How quickly we slide back into addiction

Picture of Dr. Jen Kerns

Dr. Jen Kerns

Since having unplanned sugar over the past few weeks, my brain chatter has quickly returned to its previous fever pitch. I’ve been feeding the fire of desire and my cravings returned full force last week, culminating in that binge on Trader Joe’s cookies and brownies that I described last week. Since then, I’ve had a dramatic increase in my desire for sugary/fatty treats, which tends to hit me mid-afternoon. Time of day in and of itself can be a trigger for habits, and my habit has been to eat healthfully in the first half of the day and then “relax” and go off plan in the afternoon. I’m on service at work right now, so was in the hospital all weekend, and yesterday (Saturday) had a mega craving for Ben & Jerry’s hit me around 2pm while I was sitting in my office finishing up patient documentation and had taken a break to go on Amazon to place a Whole Foods order. My primitive brain convinced me that I HAD to try this new flavor, Netflix & Chill’d, which Amazon was offering up to me as on sale AND containing everything delicious in the world: peanut butter, salty pretzel swirls, and fudge brownies. I got to the point of putting a spoon in my bag to carry with me in the car so that I could buy the ice cream on the way home and eat it instantly. But I managed to sit there, recognize the urge and process the feeling, and made a decision not to buy the ice cream despite my crazy desire. I put the spoon back and drove home, snacking on a 100 calorie pack of roasted wasabi-flavored edamame.
When I got home, I ate a white nectarine and a peach, and had a glass of plain kefir. I was totally satisfied and full, yet I still had that ache for sugar. Somehow the universe had decided it was a good idea to put 2 containers of unwanted rice pudding in my fridge — an accidental delivery of someone else’s groceries to us by Instacart. And unfortunately , Kevin had let Graham go the whole day without putting him down for his usual afternoon nap, so Graham was in rare form being fussy and throwing tantrums out of his own exhaustion. I spent an hour trying to get him to sleep to no avail, in between raising my voice and doling out several time-outs for misbehavior. I snapped and grabbed the rice pudding. The 1.5 containersful that were left were in my belly by 5pm. I just went offline and ate. It was a combination of my own fatigue, being on my last nerve with a screaming preschooler, and the sugary pudding staring at me every time I opened the fridge.

I should’ve just bought the damn Ben & Jerry’s. It would tasted waaaay better than that bland rice pudding, which fed my sugar addiction but missed the mark on flavor.

I’m clearly back to addiction land, so once again will try to eliminate sugar for a good month to dampen down the desire again. Just a few weeks ago I was literally so peaceful around sugar that I barely noticed a bag full of candy bars that were sitting in front of me at work. I want to get there again. It can feel like so much work to control myself in the meantime, and I’m tired right now. So much is going on in life – COVID-19, our move, my Dad’s death, and now to top it all off, I’m on day 7 of my first cold since February (quickly passed on to me by Graham after he had been back in preschool less than 2 weeks; I tested negative for COVID the second day and have remained afebrile since then, so I am pretty sure it’s just a cold). Taking doxylamine (Unisom) at night to help me sleep through the nasal congestion is likely worsening my cravings, as antihistamines are well known to increase appetite. (In fact, doxylamine is one of the most effective medicines used to treat the nausea that women experience during pregnancy via its effects on the eating/appetite centers in the brain.) So I need to get myself better and stop taking the medicine to sleep, stay off sugar, and get my mind back to peace again. I think I’m even going to stop weighing myself every morning for a week to just focus on planning healthy meals and not focus on what’s happening to my weight. This morning, it’s not pretty. I still refuse to beat myself up, but it’s not pretty. Sugar clearly doesn’t serve me.

Project 135 stats:
Starting weight: 159.6
Week 1: 157.2
Week 2: 155.6
Week 3: 155.4
Week 4: 153.8
Week 5: 151.0
Week 6: 152.8
Week 7: ? (Dad’s death)
Week 8: 150.8
Week 9: 152.6
Week 10: 154.2

Total weight loss: 5.4 pounds (3.4%)





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