I haven’t had a drink in almost 500 days.
I should be at least 25 pounds lighter, bordering on waif at this point, right? With all those calories I’m saving? Come on!
For me, it didn’t quite work like that—and I am completely fine with it.
This time was different. This time, I didn’t quit drinking to lose weight. I quit drinking because I realized I was becoming addicted to a drug that was hurting me both mentally and physically. I made it a priority to quit drinking alcohol, period.
I never thought I had a sweet tooth. I could say no pretty easily to cookies and cake and chocolate and ice cream. I followed the less sugar rule in my diet as much a possible. I avoided heavy carbs and dessert.
The truth was, I consciously and unconsciously saved those calories for drinking. In the back of my mind, if I avoided the sugar “eating” calories then I could justify my drinking calories much easier. I had no problem ordering another glass of wine while everyone else ate and enjoyed their crème brûlée.
Little did I know that sugar hits the exact same dopamine receptor in your brain that alcohol does, giving you all those warm, fuzzy feelings.
If I was drinking wine every day, I didn’t need the sweets as much and I could pass on them much easier. Think about it…when you eat a gooey piece of chocolate cake, do you really want a glass of cabernet after it or with it? I didn’t.
When I quit drinking, I craved sugar like crazy.
For the first several months, I drank syrupy cocktail mixers that I bought at HomeGoods, straight up in a martini glass at 5 p.m.—my favorite was lemon drop. The sugar eased my cravings for wine and got me through those really hard times between 4 and 7 p.m.
I started looking forward to (craving) those sugary drinks every day just like I did the wine. I threw away most of my sugar diet rules because my priority was to stay sober, not thin. I also bought Jolly Ranchers and Werther’s hard candies and would keep them in my car. I did whatever it took to stay sober—and it worked.
I have a better relationship with sugar now. I am grateful for the sugar getting me through those first few super hard months. The sugar cravings did subside, and I was able to wean myself off of the lemon drop martini—I just started mixing it more and more with seltzer. I appreciate what sugar can do for me in my recovery, but now I respect it the same as I do another drug. I am thankful every day that I am able to moderate my sugar intake pretty consistently.
No doubt I have more of a sweet tooth now. I keep dark chocolate around and indulge in a lot more ice cream after dinner.
I still managed to lose a few pounds, but my priority now is to stay sober—not skinny. I like this version of myself much more.