Why I am On (or is it off) the Sugar Wagon

18 Dec

Christmas cookies. What’s not to love?

My husband has recently lost a significant amount of weight. During this time we’ve gone gluten-free and he has gone sugar free. I, on the other hand, haven’t. But I know I should cut back on sugar. My “eye-doctor” told me during the exam. He asked, “What is your cholesterol level?”

Well now that wasn’t really any of his business and I politely told him so.

Then he asked, “How much sugar do you consume every day?’

Now he was really getting personal.

He explained, through visual images, that my eyes had “spots” on them caused by an elevated cholesterol level. Explained he knew this because his wife also is a sugar-holic. Then came the bad news, these spots (my non-technical description) will never, ever go away. They are more like scars. Permanent.


Sugar-filled candy. The peppermint ones are my all time favorite.

Sugar, my friends, caused this. All of those chocolate chip cookies, the brownies, the german chocolate cake while momentarily delicious, was doing a number on me. The doctor went explained that when sugar isn’t burned off during the course of the day it is stored in the liver. The liver converts this sugar into cholesterol. Yes. Cholesterol. This clearly explained why I have such an elevated cholesterol level. Sugar, my friends, is slowly killing me.

And I haven’t even addressed what sugar does to those who have arthritis, or who-like me-have joint pain.

Fast forward to Sunday night, it’s our church Christmas dinner, the beloved has no dessert. I am trying. Really, trying, but there was a coconut cake and I partook. Later I felt guilty. I felt unsupportive. How cruel of me to enjoy a piece of cake while my husband remained so strong. So Sunday night I said, “No more.”

The American Heart Association has specific recommendations regarding the amount of sugar Americans should consume. For women, no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar. For men, 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons. Here is the link. Just as an FYI, a Coke contains 9 1/3 teaspoons of sugar. As a sugar purist I won’t touch artificial sweeteners. Won’t happen. Can’t make me.


Beware! Tis the season for sugar to wrap her syrupy tendrils around your heart.

Sugar is a sneaky beast. It is everywhere, especially in “low fat” foods. It hides in catsup, is kneaded into bread. Salad dressing contains sugar. I even noticed it in can vegetables for Pete’s sake. Not to mention the bag of dark chocolate M&M’s I love. So my sugar-free vow hasn’t been easy, and I am only in day three!

Monday: In hindsight, getting on the sugar wagon during a full moon isn’t advised; nor is swearing off the sweet stuff during one of your child’s most important times of the school year, final exams. Then there is the holiday baking season. Monday was torture. Not to compare my addiction with other more powerful demons such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs, porn, gambling or shopping, but Monday was rough. I was lethargic. My head hurt. I was hungry. Starving. Regular food did nothing to satisfy my craving.

Tuesday: Tuesday wasn’t much better. My head still hurt and I craved candy. Literally, I wanted to grab a bag of chocolate chips from the counter, rip open the bag and pour the contents into my mouth. I have never felt such emotions regarding food. When I was pregnant years ago I eagerly gave up sugar for over a year. But now, I was weak. Angry, I wondered, how could I be so weak-willed. How did sugar get such a hold on me? I’ve increased my water intake, allowing myself one cup of tea with one teaspoon of unprocessed sugar. Then I immediately drink 6 ounces of water.

Drinking water isn’t for sissies.

Not joking. It is an acquired taste.

By the end of the day my eyes were floating, my head pounding. But by golly, I held firm. Take that sugar!

I still wanted the chocolate. I have never felt so out of control in my life. To keep myself from cheating during the day (I work from home), I literally locked myself in the writing room with just myself, sheets of paper, pencils and a stick of gum. That, my friends, is hard stuff. No phone and certainly no sugary sweets. But I do feel better physically.

Tomorrow is another day. Day three of being on the wagon (it is off the wagon when you stumble). Tomorrow I will feel better, and the next day, and the next. Eventually, my liver will reward me with lower cholesterol. Joint pain will lesson. But I shall wear the scars on my eyes as a reminder to take-and maintain-control of what I eat.

So tell me, what have you struggled to overcome? Please share in the comment section. Your journey may benefit others.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories; True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Please download her e-book short story collection today. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination.  In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at



Posted by on December 18, 2013 in A Glimpse into My Life, Wrinkles and all


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2 responses to “Why I am On (or is it off) the Sugar Wagon

  1. Satin Sheet Diva

    December 18, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Hang in there Renea! I have a sweet drink addiction – sweet tea, sodas, and Vitamin Water. I haven’t had any noticeable issues, outside of my Buddha Belly and emerging back fat which I’m sure cutting back on the number of sweet drinks I ingest would help with. You’ve given me pause though as I had no idea my cholesterol could be affected by my sugar intake. Wow.

    • Renea

      December 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      Yes Ma’am. In my case, it is sugar. I am allergic to eggs. Rarely eat meat, and we know I exercise like a crazy person. Mine is sugar!


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