Why I Broke Up with Sugar


I spent my childhood drinking CocaCola, Kool-Aid, Town Club’s Creme Soda, Faygo’s Rock & Rye, and Orange Crush.

Enjoyed summer days riding bikes to Bob’s Drugstore for... Licorice, candy cigarettes (another toxic learned behavior), Fun Dip, Dots, Sweet Tarts and Snow Caps.

Many days were spent swimming in our pool, awaiting the ice cream truck. Indulging in more sweet treats like, snow cones, chocolate eclairs, bomb pops and toasted almond bars.

I walked to school with my sisters or friends nearly everyday. Lunches were homemade and contained in a brown paper bag, usually kept in classroom coat closet. Chocolate milk was purchased at school.

Dinners at my grandparents were always a feast. My grandmother served several different entrees like breaded veal, steaks with anmoglio sauce, spaghetti and Lebanese dishes. I helped her fill cannolis and as a result, was usually full before dinner! I vividly remember feeling stuffed every time we left my grandparents home.

Mom was a fantastic cook too. Her meals felt lighter and I felt less stuffed. Mom worked so I often recall preparing banquet chicken, hot dogs, hormel chili and chicken pot pies in my teens.

Overindulgence was the norm and it was rarely frowned upon. Dad would make comments about weight gain, yet never encouraged healthier food choices. Aside from my grandfather’s diabetes, nobody ever spoke of sugar or processed foods being unhealthy.

Having sisters, some were cheerleaders and played a few sports, I never did. I enjoyed walking, swimming, or biking to my friends and the candy store.

Until my mid thirties, I maintained a tiny waistline without much activity. As the years went on, so did the weight. Very uncoordinated and self conscious, I was reluctant to join a gym. I remember seeing a personal trainer whose profound words still resonate with me, “No one ever taught you”.

After an ACL tear, I found Brent Steepe, an expert in biomechanics. I trained with him and was in the Best shape of my life! Unfortunately, it became costly and I stopped going. Big Mistake as professionally, I sit in a chair all day!

After learning I was BRCA2 positive in my forties, I had prophylactic mastectomies and an oophorectomy. The surgical menopause precipitated a nearly forty pound weight gain, joint pain and dreadful symptoms of surgical menopause. I found all of this far worse than losing my breasts! I accepted it as opposed to the possibility of ovarian cancer.

Brent miraculously cured my joint pain(I’m sure omitting sugar helped too). He’s a gifted healer! I discontinued training sessions once again. The weight gain continued.

Hot flashes and night sweats became unbearable. I refused to take hormones or other medicines. I began doing my own research.

Experimenting, preparing healthier meals, I noticed I wasn’t experiencing hot flashes or night sweats. They began again when I drank red wine. Noticing became my priority. I utilized mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy techniques and recognized all of the unhealthy eating habits were learned. I felt calm and empowered, knowing I had choices!


I created a new normal by listening to my body. This process contributed to a major lifestyle change. Years of learning, listening, obtaining knowledge, then contemplating and implementing the process of change.

I noticed how my body felt after eating in restaurants. I made mental sticky notes as reminders of what I’m able to tolerate.

We’re all different and I am not a physician, dietician or nutritionist, but for me, sugar is toxic. My body notices and speaks to me immediately after eating sugar....it begins with the residual funny taste in my mouth, hot flashes, night sweats and a stomach ache.

I’m far from perfect yet grateful I’ve become aware of the detrimental impact sugar has on me. I’m learning to appreciate the natural sweetness of fruit!

Lifestyle change is a process. I might not be exactly where I want, we’re all constantly becoming. Thankful to the internet for easy access to recipes. I enjoy swapping ingredients, creating new versions of family recipes.

Learning to listen and nourish my body, eliminating what no longer serves me! Returning to the physical activity of my youth has been life changing and fun!

Just Remember

There is no such thing as Can’t. Seeing is believing! Consistency is key!

Be Well,


Marla Ruhana