Remember when you were a kid and you’d eat too many Pixy Stix – or whatever your poison was then – and get really hyper and energetic, running, jumping, climbing, your mom yelling not to knock over the lamp, and then…total shutdown. Seemingly out of nowhere you were exhausted or cranky (probably both) and were either crashed out in front of the TV, picking a fight with your brother, or trying to score more sweets off your mom like the conniving little junkie you were.
We all know about the sugar crash. We know the stuff is a drug, we know what it does to our bodies, and we know we feel better not eating it. Aside from using a little honey to sweeten things when I bake, snacking on fruit, or indulging in a square or two of good dark chocolate, Brad and I have both been avoiding sugar for nearly a year now. A couple of mornings I have a little orange juice with breakfast, because I just love it too much to give it up completely, but other than that I really only drink water – no sodas. I don’t have caffeine very often anymore either – especially now that I’m pregnant. On the weekends I might pour myself half a cup of coffee with heavy cream and stevia when Brad makes a pot for himself. The result of these changes is that we rarely get irritated with each other anymore, and neither of us suffer from the mood swings, afternoon fatigue, headaches, and other ailments that used to plague us pre-Primal. But I’m not revealing any groundbreaking new concept here.
So why am I telling you this? Don’t worry, it’s about to become relevant. I thought I’d share a little cautionary tale of my own. Fast forward from sugar-fueled childhood to a sugar-free adult me last weekend…
Picture a beautiful, sunny, Southern California Saturday. Brad and I are strolling down Ventura Boulevard, chatting, laughing, and looking in store fronts, when we come to one I haven’t paid attention to in months. It’s one I loved pre-Primal, because as I’ve said before, I was a chocolate fiend. It’s the old-fashioned candy and soda pop shop, and glancing through the window I’m suddenly struck with a craving. “Hey, let’s get a Cream Soda,” I say. A seemingly innocent request. After all, what could just one full-sugar caffeinated soda hurt? Right…?
Cut to Brad and I leaving the store, happily sipping our sugary, syrupy, way-sweeter-than-we-remembered treats, the whole afternoon stretched out ahead of us. We nibble on a piece of candy we bought to share, because – why not? If we’re gonna splurge, let’s splurge! We quickly pick up the pace, both in our walk and our talk. We bounce around ideas for what to do next. Rearrange some furniture? Finally paint the walls? Shopping! We’re in the middle of redecorating a couple of rooms with baby on the way, so with all of our new-found energy we decided a trip to Target was in order. We practically raced the rest of the walk home, laughing, drinking, jumping from topic to topic. And so was made the worst decision on the face of the earth.
Traffic and parking were a nightmare. People were all over the store, constantly in the way. I felt scattered, having trouble finding things on my list, or forgetting what I was looking for halfway through the search. Deciding between two different shades of green bathmats was a monumentally daunting task. Meanwhile Brad had become restless and impatient, wandering off to look at DVDs or books. I was getting annoyed; He already was. Then came time to check out.
We debated over which lane would be the better choice. Brad’s chosen lane stalled – some problem with a price that needed to be checked. Obviously, I decided, his choice had been wrong so I moved us to another lane. It closed just as we lost our place in the original one. From Brad’s irritated mumbling I was able to ascertain that this was somehow my fault, so I snapped back in return. We decided to go upstairs to see if those lines were any less crowded. But suddenly the escalator, just as we needed it, was out of order. And a crowd of 20 people – carts in tow – were waiting for the only two elevators. Brad had reached his limit, cursing under his breath, racing off ahead of me, until I finally caught up with him and hissed “Why don’t you just go wait in the *@#&$^% car?!” He stormed off, I smashed my way into an elevator to the second floor with 10 or so other people and their carts, joined a line just as long as the original one, and ended up behind a woman who literally handed each and every item in her cart to the cashier, one at a time, finding the barcode first, and saying with each one, “Here you go……(rummage through cart)……here you go……(rummage, rummage)…..here you go……” and so on. Somewhere along the way, my fun little afternoon had become a farce.
We exchanged some snarky text messages while I waited in line and Brad waited in the car. “Thanks a LOT for leaving me in here.” “You TOLD me to leave!” “You were being a jerk!!” And etc. I turned off my phone. By the time I finally made it back to the car (as you can imagine, it took a good fifteen minutes for the woman in front of me to finish impeding the poor cashier’s job) I realized what had happened, and so had Brad. We laughed, we apologized, and we swore off the old-time soda pop shop for good.
The moral of this story? Well, for starters, don’t go to Target on a Saturday afternoon – that was just stupid. But the more important lesson here is that sugar makes you an asshole. How many irate customers, seemingly bipolar coworkers, moody spouses, road rage incidents, or countless other confrontations could be blamed on the excessive amount of sugar most people take in every day? We eat a candy bar or drink a Frappuccino, get that little energy boost we think we need to make it through the afternoon… Race around like overexcited kids, and then crash. But there’s no one to make us lay down for a nap until we’re not cranky anymore. So the next time you’re tempted by the sweet stuff, do your part to make the world a nicer place – just say no.