Monday, April 18, 2016

April 18th, 2016 Like A Pinball Machine: Sugar & Me

April 18th, 2016 Like A Pinball Machine: Sugar & Me

I've received several questions since the Today Show appearance about my abstinence from refined sugar. I found a question from a reader and my reply in the archives. So instead of rewriting the same information, I'm republishing the excerpt. By the way, did you know the archives are searchable? Enter your search words in the upper left hand corner of the web version--and hit enter!

I've updated and added to my reply in the following excerpt--

Question from a loyal reader:
"As always your food looks nurturing, delicious, healthy. Ok so with that being said never a glass of wine or a piece of birthday cake? I know you have said would people say these things to an alcoholic trying to abstain.? I gave that some thought and with an alcoholic you can never have it again. But food you have to have it daily. I know it's all about the sugar for you. You do not feel there's ever a time when you can indulge? I don't ask any of this from a judgmental mindset but rather a curious one."

Your question is a very natural one! I didn't eat a piece or even a bite of my daughter's wedding cake!

And it was still one of the most wonderful and memorable days of my life.

There is a common misunderstanding about food addiction when compared to other addictions. It's not necessarily all foods. It's specific substances within the foods we eat. For me, it's sugar. For some, abstaining from flour, sugar and even grains, or a combination of those, is what helps them.

I've never had a binge on carrots.

So the common phrase, "it's different with food addiction because you have to eat," really doesn't apply 100%. Yes, there is another side when we start talking about emotional and stress eating...but if we're talking about the bio-chemical/addictive reactions and subsequent behaviors, for me, it's sugar.

And knowing this about myself is wonderful information to possess. I still get to eat well. I still enjoy my food. I get a bunch of naturally occurring sugars in my daily nutrition--so I still have sweetness... I just can't do refined/added sugar.

Because when I do, it sets my brain off like a pinball machine--and suddenly I don't want to stop.
And as I successfully abstain, I enjoy a peace and calm--like the binge switch is turned off... I feel a calmness I didn't have before and in that, I'm able to navigate my choices without too much instability.

I was very apprehensive about trying this. But now, 719 days into it--I wouldn't trade this feeling for all the cake in the world. And that's what it would be.

If I choose to eat cake or consume refined sugar in whatever form--It would require me to sacrifice my peace and calm. And that's too important for me to give up.

Before I committed to cutting out refined/added sugar, 100%, I talked with people who had what I wanted: Long term weight loss maintenance. Each one had maintained their weight loss successfully for years--we're talking, 27 years, 22 years, 11 years, 5 years and 4 years. Their individual food plans varied to a degree. Their lifestyle varied as well. Different people, different worlds--except there was one common denominator: Abstinence from refined sugar.

I had to give this a shot. 

The amazing thing that happened for me was, once I gave it an honest try for ten days or so---I was completely convinced of the benefits. To this day it is without a doubt the single most important nutritional decision and recovery decision I've ever made.

With all of that written-- not everyone responds to sugar the same way. Some people can eat a piece of cake occasionally and they're fine. They're NOT immediately off the rails for days, weeks, months--or who knows how long? They don't have to white knuckle it, trying to reign it in for some semblance of control.  

It's like me and alcohol. I can totally have an alcoholic drink if I want-- it doesn't affect me in the slightest, beyond whatever buzz it might create in the moment--- but friends of mine who are in recovery and hold their sobriety in the highest regard--they dare not do what I can do with alcohol...because they know, it would devastate their lives...and so they cling tight to their elements of recovery; their daily disciplines, because letting go would mean sacrificing the peace, calm, freedom and stability their sobriety provides.

When this level of importance is placed on something-- a sacred level--it becomes a very transformative experience-- mentally, spiritually and emotionally---and in the case of sugar and me, the peaceful and calm balance my abstinence provides, creates a more stable foundation for consistent weight loss--and now, weight maintenance.

I hope that helps!

 photo FullSizeRender 5_zpsbi6y104d.jpg
Hoda, Kathie Lee, Joy and me--looking at thirteen cups of refined sugar, the estimated amount I consumed each week as I maintained a 500 pound-plus body weight for nearly two decades.

If you think sugar might be a substance triggering addictive food behaviors in you, there's a list of questions to ask yourself at Also--giving it (abstinence from sugar) an honest try for ten to fourteen days might be all the convincing you need! It was all I needed.

Today was Italian day. I had veggie pizza for lunch and pasta with mini meatballs and sugar free all-natural marinara for dinner! See the Tweets below.

Today was super busy at the studio. My show went well--production time was heavily involved--and I worked hard to leave on time, and did. I made it home in time for a good lunch, a nap, a fantastic Monday night support group conference call, an amazing dinner and a wonderful workout.

Today was truly a gift. I maintained the integrity of my maintenance calorie budget, I remained abstinent from refined sugar, I hit my water goal and I worked out-- Oh, and I published this blog page. 

I'll go for another day like today, tomorrow!


Today's Live-Tweet Stream:

Thank you for reading and your continued support,


  1. Great read, your blog helps immensely. I quit smoking 14 years ago and I know that if I had just 1 more cigarette just for the heck of it, I would be right back at it. So I get it now!!!Robin W.

  2. Are all Quest bars sugar free or only certain ones ?

  3. 8,375 days of sugar abstinence for me. I cannot believe the difference it has made in my life. I do use stevia to sweeten things, and that's all I need.


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