My Personal Struggles with Sugar

I thought I was living a healthy life. And in comparison to many, I was.

I was training for marathons and exercising almost daily. I thought I was already eating a "clean" diet because I had cut out gluten and dairy.

What I didn't realize is that all those gluten-free cookies and candies, that I had given myself the "green light" to eat weren't healthy like I thought they were. They may have been gluten-free, but they were also full of sugar.

And for a long time, I didn't realize how abundant sugar was in my diet. 

That led to almost daily sugar highs, then crashes that left me moody, irritable and full of anxiety. My unstable blood sugar levels resulted in hypoglycemia, which then caused me to suffer from irregular sleep patterns and debilitating insomnia. 

Poor sleep combined with excessive overtraining then led to a poor gut, hormonal imbalances (adrenals and thyroid), chronic inflammation, constant injuries and eventually Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Yet, it wasn't until I learned that I was developing Non-Alcoholics Fatty Liver Disease did I finally answer my wake-up call. 

Having had a history of being obese, I had suddenly begun to gain weight, despite hours and hours of marathon training every week. I was desperate to figure out why this was happening.

So I consulted my primary care physician who ordered a round of routine blood tests.

My results showed an elevated liver panel. "It might be a fluke." my doc said, "Wait two weeks and get tested again.

So I did. 

And the second test came back even higher than the first. So I had to get an ultrasound. Then an MRI.

The result? Signs of early Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.

Hearing this scared me. I didn't even really know what that was, but I knew it wasn't good. Like seriously, not good. 

When I thought of liver disease, the first thing that came to my mind was Mickey Mantle (what can I say, ever a baseball fan). But he drank excessively. I don't drink at all.

I worked out all the time. I ate what I thought was healthily, so how could this be happening?!

My gastroenterologist told me that unhealthy people get this disease and I needed to start exercising and clean up my diet.


When he said this, I was offended.

Didn't he listen to me when I tried to share my health history with him? Did he not realize that I was working my butt off, running dozens of miles a week?! Didn't he hear me when I said I had already cut out gluten and dairy?! What more could I do?!

But deep down, I knew what else I could do.

Inside, I knew that I had a sugar problem. I just wasn't ready to admit it.

I had already given up gluten and dairy; I didn't want to feel even more deprived than I already had.

When I took an honest look at my food journal, the truth was staring at me in the face. I was eating a high sugar diet. And here's the kicker...


Or at least that's the lie I told myself. 

Yes, 9 out of 10 times I will always choose salty over sweet, but that doesn't mean I didn't like sweets. And that didn't mean I wasn't eating more than my fair share of it.

That single moment of realization was the catalyst for me finally choosing to give up sugar. It was at that moment that I finally had the courage to commit to quitting sugar.

I valued my health, and I refused to give sugar power over me.

I'm not going to lie to you - it was hard. 

Those first 7-10 days were tough. Not agonizingly hard, but hard enough.

I had the headaches and mood swings. And I almost said, "Screw this!" on more than one occasion. But I stuck with it.

I found that the more I educated myself on the damage that sugar did to my body, the easier it became. The more motivation I had to stick with it. 

Eventually, my taste buds changed to the point where I no longer crave sugar. 

In fact, my tolerance for refined sugar has dramatically declined. 

Now, I recognize noticeable changes in my body when I do eat sugar. The brain fog, the headaches, the anxious jitters - it all comes back like unwanted guests.

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Naomi Nakamura is a certified Holistic Health Coach who takes a holistic approach through functional nutrition. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, coaching programs, and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with acne and other chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop! Connect with Naomi at: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest.