Kicking a sugar addiction is hard, but it's worth it (it is worth it, right?)

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen

Hi, my name is Charlotte and I've been a sugar addict all my life. People often think this is a joke but I can assure you that I'm totally serious. I've never met a gummy candy I didn't like and I call all major holidays by their candy name. (Candy Cane Eve and Jelly Bean Sunday are my two favorites.) And I'm not the only one. According to recent data, the average American mainlines 130 pounds of added sugar every year-that's about 22 teaspoons per day. Know how much you're supposed to have? No more than nine teaspoons per day. Yikes.

Unfortunately, like any addiction (and make no mistake, you can be addicted to sugar), compulsively eating bags of colored sugar is one of the worst things you can do for your health-and I know it. I feel like crap, physically and mentally every time I do it. Yet the siren call of sweets is strong so I'm left trying to make some kind of peace with sugar. Moderation doesn't work well for me. I'm not one of those people who can eat exactly 17 Skittles and leave the rest of the bag-if it's in the house, it's getting eaten. Plus, tasting it only makes me want more.

I know giving it up for good would probably be the best choice for my health and sanity but that seems overwhelming and kind of insane-no chocolate cake again, ever?-so instead I just give it up for periods of time. (Check out 5 Lessons Learned from Going Sugar-Free for 10 Days.) Like, oh, now. It's not easy but I know I'll feel better. Here's how it usually goes down for me:

Stage 1: The goal. I am strong! I am resolute! No sugar will ever cross my lips again ever, ever!

Stage 2: Denial. Okay, I'm starting right after I finish these two bags of licorice. Really, I'm doing myself a favor, because then it won't be in the house any more to tempt me, right?

Stage 3: Grief. Now I really feel bad. Not only does my tummy hurt but my willpower lasted like 0.5 seconds! Why do I have no willpower? Why, universe, why??

Stage 4: Jealousy. Everyone else gets to have cake. Why don't I get to have cake? Don't I deserve cake too? Ah, that cake looks SO GOOD. I bet it tastes amazing. I love cake, why does it not love me back?

Stage 5: Anger. What is this "ice cream" made from frozen bananas nonsense? It tastes literally nothing like ice cream! Oh sure it looks all creamy and yummy and then you take a bite and... it's still *#$(*% bananas. I hate bananas! I hate life! Aggggh!

Stage 6: Acceptance. I can do this. Life will be fine without gummy worms.

Stage 7: Ecstasy. I feel amazing! I'm sleeping so much better, my skin is clear, I have the energy of 100 men! And I no longer panic if I run out of the candy stash in my purse (and car and nightstand). This is the best.

Stage 8: Superiority. Ha! Look at all those people eating ice cream cones! I am strong! They are weak! Suckers! Mmmm...suckers. Wait, no! I cannot be tempted! I am invincible!

Stage 9: Failure. I ate a sucker. And the rest of the months-old stale candy in the bowl at the office. While hiding in the supply closet. Then I buried the wrappers under paper towels. This is my lowest hour.

Stage 10: Forgiveness. I'm human, it's okay, it was just one mistake. There's no point in beating myself up over it. I'll just start over. And maybe not be so prideful so this time.

Stage 11: Cautious optimism. It's been two whole weeks without candy! But I still crave it. But I made it this far! But I can't hold out forever. But I can hold out today! I can do this one more day.

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