Sugar Free Revolutionist Amy Daniels was one of the first patients ever to complete the HELP: Healthy Eating and Lifestyle program. Here is here amazing story of beating her sugar and carb addiction.
I have analysed and tried to understand the ‘why’s and ‘how’s of sugar and carb addiction, but I cannot solve a puzzle to which there is no solution. My body and mind have an abnormal reaction to sugar and carbs.
Looking back, it is clear that I was hooked on sugar and carbs from a young age, but I was just seen as a greedy child with a sweet tooth, like most kids. I have childhood memories of eating whole chocolate advent calendars in one sitting, permanently stealing sweets, sneaking around for treats at sleepovers when everyone else was sleeping, and washing it all down with sugary fizzy drinks. I would be rewarded for ‘good’ behaviour with sugar. At high school, my lunches consisted of chips, garlic bread and chocolate. I then discovered that living on Diet Coke and sweets alone meant that I could be super skinny AND get my fix of my favourite taste. Then alcohol and class A, B and Cs came along, and I never ate… apart from sweets, chocolates, cakes, brownies, shortbread, muffins, biscuits, pizza, pasta, crisps, toast, cereal and croissants – to make me feel better when I had yet another hangover from hell, or I was coming down from whatever substance I had taken. Sugar comforted and soothed me, I adored the taste of anything sweet, and the way it made me feel inside. I always wanted more, and would go back to it time and time again.
For me, sugar has a mood and mind altering effect similar to drugs and alcohol, which I had 15 years’ hard experience of. I got into substance abuse recovery when I couldn’t go on as I had been doing any longer. However, when I stopped drinking, taking drugs and smoking cigarettes all at the same time, my addiction then morphed into another. Cross addiction to sugar sounded so pathetic, but I was still suffering from hangovers and feeling shockingly awful on a daily basis, as I was getting high, drunk, off my head, up, down, woozy, and in-and-out-of-reality on sugar. My mood swings were still as unbearable as they had been when I was drinking and taking drugs; I was still vile to be around and a cyclone of unmanageability. I now was stealing, lying and destroying myself just to get more of my new drug of choice: sugar.
My dark destructive addiction was dragging me across the floor by my hair. I couldn’t focus on anything, or care about anything. Another relationship ended, as I had nothing to offer him but abuse, broken promises and empty words. How could I give him love when I had no love to give myself? I hated myself; I felt disgusted, ashamed and angry with myself. I felt so alone and afraid. I felt hopeless and stuck in a depressing hole. My binges were getting worse. My face looked visibly different; my jaw and chin were hard, swollen and sore. I had angry red boil-like spots around my jaw. My eyes were black, sunken and empty. I looked like I had been beaten up. I used sugar to come up, carbs to come down. It was like something possessed my body and mind, leading my feet to trudge from shop to shop, buying or stealing sugar and carbs to satisfy my cravings. I was drunk and high at my desk, thinking no one could see me as I felt like a ghost. I was a nodding dog, falling asleep in meetings, disassociated, out of it, and always making mistakes. I was a mess; I couldn’t remember anything, couldn’t speak, and I looked dishevelled. I was missing work because I was unable to get up. I was unable to break the strong magnetic pull towards the sugar and carbs. Once I had taken that first bite I was off, there was no stopping me.
My flat resembled something out of Trainspotting, but the foil wrappers strewn around the place were from sugar binges rather than cooking up heroin. My head was constantly pounding – aching – and I felt dead inside. I suffered agonising pain in my kidneys: my guts churned constantly; I felt sick and my stomach was uncomfortably bloated; my ankles and wrists swelled. The more I used the worse it got; the worse it got the more I used. I was so unhappy and alone, yet I kept on going back. When I had eaten so much that I couldn’t physically move, or was being violently sick with mucus streaming out of both nostrils and unable to breath, spluttering, choking, coughing and crying all at the same time, I had to question whether things really were ‘ok’. I was slowly committing suicide. I lost my job due to my addiction, along with my self-esteem and self-respect. I was on the floor again hitting another rock bottom, broken into tiny little pieces.
I felt invisible, and secretly wanted something awful to happen to me so that I could be put out of my misery, but at the same time, I was too scared to contemplate suicide. I wondered how I had fallen into such despair and misery. No longer able to function in my horrible, negative, debilitating, humiliating, poisonous, shame-inducing, and very real addiction, I shipped myself off to Harmony, where for the first time, I was seen, heard and understood. Sugar and carb addiction, I was told, is real: a substance problem, just like drug addiction. I learnt that sugar-laden junk activates the same regions of the brain as heroin and cocaine, and that sugar, not cocaine, is one of the most addictive and dangerous substances in the world. I felt such relief in knowing that I wasn’t making it all up.
I had arrived at Harmony completely broken and desperate – a zombie with no emotions: nothing going on behind my eyes. Over my 4 months there, my eyes started to sparkle, I started to feel, and I came alive. I began to heal from within, physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. I was Recovering Amy – someone who had been lost for many years. I started to come out of my head and into my heart. I never wanted to go back to the gates of hell, the horror, mess, emptiness and darkness which I had come from.
Nearly 3 years on, as I transformed as a person, so has my life. I am honest and real with my family and wonderful girlfriends. I have a loving boyfriend and beautiful home where we live together. I have a dream job, inner peace and calm. I take care of myself and use my support network when I am struggling. I qualify next year to be a counsellor, as it has been my dream to get into this field after being inspired by my experience at Harmony. I want to fly the flag for sugar and carb addiction in the UK, and be the UK version of Karen, who I truly respect, adore and admire.
Amy will be sharing her sugar addiction story with me on Sunday 5 at 6pm SAST. Register for FREE by clicking the button below.