I am an addict. Total junkie. Sugar is my drug.
And everyone out there is a dealer. Restaurants, cookbooks, grocery stores, even the drugstores with their sugar-laden endcaps at the checkout stand. When I was just a toddler, our babysitter would bring our favorite candies no doubt to keep us in love with her. Jolly Ranchers – the big stick. Remember those?
I started baking when I was 8 years old. I made cookies and brownies. By 11, I had graduated to full on apple pie. Had to do it if I wanted the good stuff ‘cause my mom wasn’t going to do it. And I was about 12 when a friend showed me how to boil a can of sweetened condensed milk to make caramel, pour it into a prepared graham cracker crust and top it with whipped cream. And it snowballed from there, yes it did.
My Celiac disease diagnosis threw me a curve ball but I dove headlong into figuring out gluten free desserts. No auto-immune disease was going to keep me from my first love. Then came an e coli contamination. Now that was an insidious foe. It wrecked havoc upon my body in so many ways. And it took years before finding a team of doctors who had any idea of how to diagnose and treat it. It still took several years to work it all out. Annual rounds of e coli specific antibiotics, special diet – FODMAP which is NO fun – and many probiotics.
During the battle years, I’ve had this weight gain that I couldn’t explain or eliminate. Strangely, when I took the antibiotics, I lost the weight within 3-4 weeks. Over time it would creep back. It was so frustrating! Then about 6 months ago I came across Probiotics America, a brand of probiotics made by a team of doctors. It was definitely worth a try, and they worked. Like no other probiotic that I had tried. After a couple of months, the bloating ceased, the discomfort, the joint pain, all of it got better. Except the extra weight. I even joined a gym back in January and put myself on a regime that should have made a difference. It didn’t.
Then late April I worked with a chef friend, an Atkins chef. And we talked. A lot. Now the carb thing is not tough for me, as gluten free, I just don’t eat that many starchy carbs. But the sugar part was eye opening.
I have gone refined sugar free since then. No more of my gelato, no more sugar in my coffee, no more of those yummy chocolate coated toffee or caramels from Trader Joe’s. I bet they’ve noticed a change in inventory! Ha! For the first 3 weeks, nothing. No change. And then. It started. That jelly fat coating is melting off of my body. I am returning to my previous size and weight. And I feel better than I’ve felt in 8 years since this e coli enemy entered my body. I am no longer a warzone.
I must admit, I cooked for a few family friends recently and made desserts for them. Yeah, I fell off the wagon and made some for me too. Oh it was good! But battle fatigue lasted for 5 days! Yep, I felt sick, headaches, fatigue, brain fog, generally yuck, for 5 days. Is it worth it? No way.
I have found other ways to satify that sweet tooth. My Atkins chef friend introduced me to a line of sheeps’ milk Greek yogurt that I now crave for desserts. Just a small portion, with some fresh raspberries, and I’m in heaven.
Anyone who knows me well, knows how much I love sugar. Sweet tooth just doesn’t cover it. It’s a war – but now I’m winning. I’m 30 days clean.
*I will forever be grateful to the heads of Celiac research from the Mayo Clinic and Columbia University who directed me to Dr. Mark Pimental and his team at Cedars Sinai, who led me to Dr. Ben Basseri.
*My new fav yogurt, Aris Sheep’s Milk Greek Yogurt with Figs, is lactose free. Available in certain stores and farmers markets around the LA area, and on their website. You’re welcome!