I’ve got to try a different street

March 14, 2012 | My Jottings

Once upon a time, a long, long, long, looooong time ago, I didn’t eat sugar.

I also didn’t eat much white flour. And my little girls didn’t eat sugar either.

When my daughters grew old enough to attend birthday parties where cake and ice cream were served, I decided that they had to be allowed to occasionally eat cake and ice cream at birthday parties if they were going to speak to me have a normal life when they grew up. But we didn’t buy candy or other kinds of sweets, and when we did partake, it was a very rare event.

Then I moved to Minnesota in 1981 when I married Michael. Minnesota is the Land of White. Snow and long white winters, white noodles in the ubiquitous Minnesota hotdishes with thick white sauces, white skin on all the Scandinavians (my pale skin fits in well!), white mashed potatoes, white milk and cheese from Wisconsin right next door (The Dairy Capital of the World), white, flaky butterhorn rolls, white Cool Whip in white rice pudding. White, white, everywhere.

And so we started doing as the natives did, which was eating all those white things. Well, except for Cool Whip. I still wouldn’t eat Cool Whip if you tied me up with a white rope and beat me with a white stick.

Slowly over the years, the pounds crept onto my 5′ 10″ frame. Since childbirth I’d always seesawed back and forth — losing and regaining fifteen-twenty pounds, but after moving to Minnesota the fifteen became thirty and then fifty and then….bleh. You get the picture. Minnesota is a beautiful place to live, but it can be so mean!

And I’ve read all the books about how sugar is white death and contributes to heart disease and inflammation all over the body, but when you’re young and energetic, you can be foolish and try to ignore things like that because they haven’t caught up with you yet. Until you reach your fifties and your knees scream at you and your energy flags and your extra poundage feels like a sack of boulders you’re carrying around that can never, ever be laid down.

Not everyone has a problem with sugar, I know. But I have long known that I do. It’s like a drug — I don’t need very much, but I want just a little bit three or four times a day. And of course there have been days when fourteen Miniature Reese’s seem like the more reasonable choice than two. Insanity.

So I’ve decided to give up sugar, starting today.

Here’s a little autobiographical story by Portia Nelson (she was a nun in The Sound of Music) that I read on a popular blog recently, and it reached down through my throat and grabbed me violently by the pancreas:

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Chapter 1

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost…I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.


Chapter 2

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.


Chapter 3

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in…it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.


Chapter 4

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.


Chapter 5

I walk down another street.

I know that this is going to be impossible for me unless God gives me strength. I know He’s willing, but I know that for decades now I have been unwilling. Today I’m willing.

I even think sugar has become a sort of idol for me, as awful and possibly ridiculous as that sounds. In Community Bible Study this year, our class is studying The Divided Kingdom, which covers many books of the Bible. Every week we study how Israel and Judah would not lay down their idols and turn to the Lord, no matter how much things were falling apart for them. We of the 21st century can sit on our high horses about this because WHO would be brainless enough to bow down before an image carved from wood or stone, or actually BELIEVE that a forged golden calf could do even one thing for them? Well, I have no idols made of stone or wood or gold in my house, but I’m learning that an idol is what I turn to, again and again. For comfort, for help, for something to do; it’s something I focus on. And I think that foods with sugar have been something I’ve turned to over and over again. I love sugar and I hate sugar.

I know it’s futile to say “I will never ingest a granule of sugar again so long as I live.”  There may come a day when I feel I can have a treat at a family gathering. I don’t know. And I have no idea if I will succeed. So I ask for your prayers. If you think I’m being silly, pray for me. If you see how serious this could be, please pray for me. If you think I’ve gone overboard, pray for me.

For years I have lived and worked and played on Sweet Street.

Today, I absolutely must walk down another street.


  1. Helen in Switzerland says:

    I think I might follow suite! I could do with dropping a few pounds too – especially at the moment and not being able to run my weight is probably at it’s heaviest ever – and I hate it!

    It’s funny, but I never imagined that you were a tall person – somehow I have a picture of you in my mind being 5’4″ just like me!!!

  2. Just Julie says:

    I have never been a runner like you, Helen, but would like to be a more regular walker. We are a family of long-femured women. Sharon is 6′ 1″, Carolyn is 5′ 10″, and Sara is closer to normal height at 5′ 7″. My mom was 5′ 10″ too. Many tall men as well. Wasn’t that fascinating? :p

  3. Jessica says:

    I find it very interesting to read this today. For the past month and a half or so I have been trying to give up sugar and it has been a real battle. I went cold turkey, had a ton of die off effects but forged on. Then I had a weak moment and fell off the wagon. Then the wagon ran me over. Then I got back on the wagon. Then I dragged one foot behind the wagon. Then I had a panic attack (unrelated to the sugar situation) and I ate no sugar for a week (also had major withdrawal again) and then I got a bunch of company who came bearing sugar laden gifts. Now I am slowly weaning myself off again. I won’t intentionally go cold turkey again. It was too hard for me. But I do notice some improvements in things like my wrists and thumbs that have decided to become really achy and weak. When I don’t eat sugar, they feel better. So, I need to do it. But it’s INSANE how hard it is. I am a candy junkie. JUNKIE. In the process I’m also trying to gear a little more towards a “caveman diet.” Which is also not easy. I will probably never be 100% off anything but I hope to be mostly off sugar and other unhealthy things.

  4. Jessica says:

    Also, I appreciated seeing Autobiography in Five Short Chapters today. Thank you. I haven’t seen that in a long time and it resonated with me on a lot of levels.

  5. Just Julie says:

    Thank you for all you shared here, Jessica. I have talked to others who feel sugar is like a drug for them, so what you shared isn’t a complete surprise. But I’m bracing myself. I’ve known for a long time that sugar affects my joints, and so do corn chips! Isn’t that weird? A few corn chips and salsa in the evening? The next morning I’m moving around like a crippled woman. Yikes! I’m glad you enjoyed the Five Chapters….it struck a chord with me too. God bless your week, friend. xxoo

  6. Tauni says:

    Boy, I am so with you on this! I actually gave up not sugar per se, definitely white sugar, but more about the “dessert” stuff. I too would consume a little here and a little there and before I know it I have eaten two or three candy bars worth of sugary stuff in a day. I am so much of a junkie as well. I, in a last ditch effort to support my husband in his efforts to quit smoking again recently, just said out loud to him, “I will show my support to your quitting smoking by quitting my sweet-tooth “fixes,” to which my husband, so very lovingly, responded, “You don’t have to do that.” I let him know that I know I didn’t have to, but really wanted to support his efforts by giving up something that consumed my thoughts almost as much as his smoking did his. Truthfully, I have not missed it that much. Oh every now and then I ponder how great a piece of chocolate would taste after dinner, but not much any more. The only time I have broken this is when he and I enjoy a dessert together. As you and Jessica have mentioned here, I feel much better and feel not so much better when I choose to partake, even with “permission.” I am getting to where I just am able to say no more often. PRAISE GOD!!! Historically I would have dealt with it much as an addict does ~ hiding it in a few places and sneaking it. Well, that was a disclosure 🙂 ! Anyway, Julie, I will support your efforts definitely in prayer but also in your struggle. We can be accountability partners if you would like ~ I know I could use it!! Thanks for sharing, had read the Autobiography a while ago and found it very enlightening. Good to reread it. Love to you and yours ~ Taun

  7. Just Julie says:

    You are a great woman and a great friend, Tauni! Yes, I would love to know someone so far away is joining me and praying for me in this. Thank you!! LY…

  8. Patty says:

    Glad that I read this before the week-end. I was contemplating sending you a little something from the Chocolate Mill back with Sharon. I won’t do that now. I can’t tell you that I will ‘along’ with you on your journey to a sugar free life, but I will be with you in spirit, and I will make attempts at ridding myself of the unhealthy items in my menu. Mind you, I just finished a bowl of instant Quaker Oatmeal with maple and brown sugar as I read the blog so you know I have a looooooonnnggg way to go.

  9. Just Julie says:

    Thank you for being so thoughtful, Patty. I also have a long way to go. My first day went okay, but I did find myself wondering several times yesterday what I could eat. Fruits and vegetables I love, but I had to rethink several items I normally would have had. I will think of you this weekend, Patty!

  10. Ember says:

    Jessica, what you said up there is the story of my life! Thanks for posting this, Julie. I keep zig-zagging insanely in and out of this. I keep trying to tell myself; refined sugar is NOT A FOOD. I love that story you posted – I have read it but not got it written down anywhere, so I’m delighted to come across it here.
    When I arrived on Earth I didn’t think I had grasped that the small things would be so tenacious and so hard to do.

  11. Just Julie says:

    Thank you Ember….it’s nice to know others understand, isn’t it? xxoo

  12. Ganeida says:

    Arriving late ~ but arrived I have. 🙂 I thought sugar was a food group! 🙁 We are talking seriously addicted here. I got a ways with breaking the habit then stuff happened & I promptly reverted. I haven’t unreverted yet. It takes energy I don’t have just now. Much as I keep telling myself sugar is not proper food my inner woman insists I am wrong. How can something that tastes sooo good be so bad for you? That just can’t be right? Passover coming up. we might try giving sugar up for Lent? Or not….

  13. Just Julie says:

    I totally get it, Ganeida! Are our sweet taste buds meant only to taste the sweetness of fruit? Or honey? Why do they respond so heartily to stuff that isn’t good for the body? 🙂 God bless all your “stuff” that’s happening.

  14. Treva Kelleher says:

    Hi Julie:
    I enjoy all of your posts and can relate to many of them. Your post about giving up sugar gives me renewed willpower to do the same.
    I attend church with Larry and Christy and missed her so much while she was visiting. I’m very glad she was able to get away. Also, just watched the precious video about Lil Drac (the bat). I’ve never been a fan of bats but this could change my mind. I never realized they had such cute little ears. 🙂 Thanks again for your inspirational posts.

  15. Just Julie says:

    Treva! I feel so honored that you stopped by here. Christy has told me about you and Eric and how much she loves you both. Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment. Please take good care of those two that I love so much. 🙂 God bless you Treva….

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