The Danger of Eating Processed Sugar
After my experience with reversing severe heart damage with whole, minimally processed plant-based foods, I started to take my diet way more seriously than at any other time in my life. However, the danger of keeping processed sugar in my diet was not on my radar.
As a fast-food connoisseur of the highest order from my adolescent years onward, the time for discarding my junk food predilections was way past due. I knew first hand the healing power of whole foods.
A virtual trash heap of fast-food habits loomed over me, so I had my work cut out. But I was confident that I fully understood the benefits and consequences of my dietary choices. I was ready to make the life-long commitment to transitioning to a healthier way of eating.
I was ready to leave all my bad habits behind.
Except for ONE – eating processed sugar.
I mistakenly believed that regularly consuming processed sugar in small amounts was no big deal. Wrongly, I had figured that since I was making tremendous changes in every other area of my diet, that a little sweet treat now and again couldn’t be all that bad.
But it wasn’t all that infrequent. And after finally looking at the actual serving size on the package of candy I regularly ate and comparing that to what I was eating in one sitting (which was the ENTIRE package), it turns out it wasn’t a little bit either.
The Catastrophe I Never Saw Coming
I was blissfully unaware of the health catastrophe I set myself up for despite all the other positive diet and lifestyle changes I was making at the time.
That all would change when I started experiencing two straight weeks of non-stop bleeding.
Uh-oh. This can’t be good.
I immediately suspected the fibroid tumors that my OB/GYN discovered when I was pregnant with Zoe. But they had been stable for nearly a decade, and I knew that I was experiencing something abnormal.
Something is different.
A thorough exam to get to the bottom of what was happening was critical, so I asked some friends for OB/GYN recommendations near my home. My doctor had long since closed her practice, and I had been getting my regular checkups through a primary care physician since her retirement. I knew that I needed to see a specialist.
Once she completed my exam, my brand new doctor matter-of-factly dropped the two-ton metaphorical bomb on my head.
The Truth Hurt (But It Also Set Me Free)
“You’ve got two possible issues that are causing your symptoms. The first is you’ve got a large tumor in your uterus. When they’ve reached the size that yours is, we tend to be concerned about malignancy. I’d recommend an immediate hysterectomy.
You also have a large cyst on one of your ovaries. Once an ovarian cyst reaches this size, the only treatment option is surgical removal. Yours is past the possibility of healing on its own, so we’ll need to remove one of your ovaries as well. You will continue to experience prolonged bleeding from now on. Surgery is the only solution. We can remove everything on the same day, and we need to schedule it right away.”
She’d also told me that I had an abnormal hormone result, which could indicate the presence of a brain tumor! She’d said it could be a fluke, but she hadn’t hesitated to share that distressing news with me.
My head was swirling.
Stay calm! Think!
“Ok,” I’d replied, taking a deep breath. “I’m aware of the fibroid tumor, and I’ve had it evaluated over the last ten years by several other specialists. How large is it now?”
I’d asked this specific question because I had my medical charts from previous exams with me, and I wanted to know how the current size of this tumor compared to the last measurements.
In the back of my mind, I’d recalled how astonished all the previous specialists had been when they’d measured the tumor, and how they’d indicated the size of it was remarkable.
But no one had ever mentioned a possible malignancy before.
The doctor shared the current measurements, and I immediately noticed it was smaller than it once had been.
I concluded that the fibroid tumor was probably not causing my symptoms since it was smaller than it was in previous exams. That left my ovary as the primary suspect. I’d decided to cross the bridge about my other abnormal hormone reading another time if it turned out a repeat test showed the same result.
I shared with the doctor that I wasn’t amenable to scheduling surgery right away. She understandably wasn’t on board with the idea of postponing surgery. Reproductive health was her wheelhouse.
“Listen, I know that you’re alarmed about what you’re seeing. But this growth has been stable and has shrunk since my last exam. If it is malignant, I’ve lived with it for ten years. I don’t see any reason to schedule surgery within the next few days. I want to take some time to think about it.”
For some reason, I didn’t have peace about scheduling an immediate surgery. In hindsight, I now know why. I didn’t need surgery to heal my body.
My Sweet Tooth Nearly Cost Me Two Organs
Shortly after my OB/GYN visit, I’d mentioned that I had an ovarian cyst to two different health practitioners: a functional nutritionist and a chiropractor.
When they both said the same thing independent of each other, I knew I’d better pay attention.
In my life, that has been a consistent way that God confirms something for me: different people will start sending me the same message within a short period of time.
Both of them said there was a link between ovarian cysts and blood sugar issues.
Blood sugar?!! How can that be? I don’t have diabetes, and I’ve never had an abnormal blood sugar reading!
Still, the fact that they’d both brought up blood sugar in the context of my symptoms had to be meaningful.
And there was one habit that I’d yet to break on the quest to better health.
Gummy worms. Haribo® Sweet and Sour Twin Snakes® to be exact.
Processed sugar was my drug of choice (it still is my kryptonite), and I partook in this particular vice with regularity.
The next time I came across a package in the grocery store, I flipped it over and looked at the label. For the very first time, I understood how many grams of processed sugar I was eating.
My eyes popped out of my head. Not only were there a whopping nineteen grams of sugar per serving, but a serving size was only five gummy worms!
I didn’t ONLY eat five gummy worms at a time. I was devouring the entire bag in one sitting, which meant I was inhaling sixty-six and a half grams of processed sugar every time I ate a bag. (Many health experts recommend an upward limit of about twenty-five grams of sugar per day for women, while many others insist even that’s too much).
And depending on my stress levels, It wasn’t unusual for me to eat more than one bag within a few days of each other.
Holy moly! This must be related.
Ditching Processed Sugars: Faith Without Works Is Dead
Immediately, I went cold turkey on processed sugar. I stopped eating candy and other sweets. But I also stopped adding sugar to my coffee and tea. I started checking food labels like I was searching for the holy grail. And I also started taking a natural supplement, suspecting I might have some deficiencies caused by my constant sugar gorging over the years.
Four months passed before I decided it was time to face the surgical music. Even though my symptoms had not returned, I decided that I shouldn’t wait any longer to take care of things. It was time to gird my loins.
I mentally prepared myself to be operated on and lose two organs by the time everything was said and done.
The day I went in for my follow-up exam was a logistical nightmare. Our recent change in health insurance companies caused some system errors. They took nearly two hours to fix before I could be seen by the doctor.
Right when I was seconds from walking out the door with steam flowing out of my ears, the nurse finally called me back.
Half an hour later, I’d be sitting across from the doctor waiting for her to schedule surgery.
She walked in smiling. That was unexpected.
Why is she smiling?
“Everything looks good.”
“I’m sorry, what? What do you mean ‘everything looks good’?”
“Your ovarian cyst is gone.”
“It’s gone?! But you said there was ZERO chance it could heal without surgery.”
She shrugged, looking away uncomfortably.
“And what about the fibroid?”
“It shrank by 30%.”
“Yes. And your other previously abnormal blood test results are back within the normal range.
You’re good to go, and you don’t need to book a follow-up appointment. Congratulations.”
The Proof Was in the (Unsweetened) Pudding
I’d just experienced another burning bush moment.
Another healing miracle that didn’t require medical intervention.
My vision was becoming clearer with every experience.
The promises of God are directly linked to following His principles.
Once again, I reaped the direct health benefits of aligning the way that I ate and lived to biblical health principles.
And the rewards were great indeed.
But there was still one major health obstacle on the horizon that I had yet to overcome.
Another burning bush moment that would stretch my understanding and faith well beyond any limits I’d previously experienced and solidify in my mind that whole health goes far beyond the foods we choose to eat.
NOTE: This post is part of a series about my personal health journey. You can read the previous installment here.
Check back soon for the next part of my story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DALILA JONES STITZ
Founder and CEO, Health Insurrection LLC
Dalila is a native Houstonian and currently lives in Switzerand with her husband and two kids. She received her health coach training through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Hallelujah Acres and teaches in-home bible studies and online courses.