Hi, I’m Teresa and I’m a sugar and bread addict.

I once weighed almost a quarter ton and today I weigh, well, a whole lot less. I’m nearing normal weight, even though the body mass indicator says I need to lose 17 pounds in order to enter that classification.

big family

Yep that’s me the biggest one in the picture. We were laughing at my daughter who didn’t want to be in the picture. I certainly wasn’t laughing at my 430 pounds. That was no laughing matter.

That terminology is actually very misleading. Normal, in my book, means what the average person weighs.

Actually, more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, according to the Weight-control Information Network. Only 31.2 percent of adults are normal weight or underweight while 33.1 percent are overweight, 35.7 percent are obese and 6.3 percent are in the extremely obese category.

On average, we are not normal! On average, we are way above normal.

The potential problems with this are staggering. They include a greater risk for serious medical conditions such as: cancer (including breast, colon, endometrial and kidney), stroke, heart disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, gallbladder disease and gallstones, gout, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, breathing problems such as sleep apnea, asthma, according to WIN and WebMD.

Of course there are all sorts of postulations as to why Americans are gaining weight faster than the U.S. debt is accumulating. One of the ones talked about a lot is family history or genetics.

“A predisposition to fatten easily or remain lean is obviously determined in large part by our genes—a heritage passed down from generation to generation,” says Gary Taubes in Why We Get Fat.

Those who are overweight have a strong propensity to gain weight if they eat foods with high carbohydrate content, in other words simple carbs, like processed sugar and bread, otherwise known as the American diet. However, there are those without this genetic disposition who can eat carbs and not gain weight. I, however, can just look at a carb and gain weight.

The problem according to Taubes and Kathleen DesMaisons, an addiction nutrition, PhD, and author of Potatoes Not Prozac, is something called metabolic syndrome.

Those who have this issue are “born with a body that responds to sugar, alcohol and refined carbohydrates differently than other people,” DesMaisons said. Yep, she’s talking about me right there.

Both say that sugar is addictive. Taubes points to research by Bartley Hoebel of Princeton University, that says “when you eat sugar … it triggers a response in the same part of the brain—known as the ‘reward center’—that is targeted by cocaine, alcohol, nicotine, and other addictive substances.

“Sugar seems to hijack the signal to an unnatural degree, just as cocaine and nicotine do. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are addictive in the same way that drugs are for much the same biochemical reasons.”

The answer they agree is to avoid foods high in carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, potatoes and sugar. Taubes encourages eating protein and fat in combination.

DesMaisons says to make sure there is a strong mix of protein and fiber at three consistently timed and balanced meals a day. Both have more specific recommendations in their books.

Personally I discovered both of these books after I lost 260 pounds. I would say I am clinical evidence what they are saying works. My basic diet is meat, fruits, vegetables and nuts. I don’t limit fats.

I do, however, greatly limit carbohydrates although I don’t really count them. I just do not eat processed sugar or items containing gluten. This helps me steer clear of traditional processed breads, chips, cookies, cakes and candies, all things, which are very addictive to me.

For me it is a simple way of determining what I will and won’t eat. If it is a meat (not breaded with flour), vegetable (not drenched in sauce), fruit (not in a pie or covered with sugar), nut (not candied) or fat (avacado, egg yolk, real butter) then it is all right for me to eat.

I steer clear of processed foods. If I can’t pronounce an ingredient I don’t eat it.

Making the change to this lifestyle is like kicking a life-long habit. However, I can say it has been the easiest hard thing I have done. I know it’s God’s power that has seen me through. His grace is like the wind at my back propelling me forward every step of the way.

It took me several years to get completely free of cravings. If I ate sugar again, I would start craving again. In those times, God’s still small voice, quietly spoke into my spirit. “What are you doing?”

That was enough to remind me how much better I feel without eating sugar. If I do get off track, I get right back on. I haven’t had processed sugar of any kind in almost a year.

If you are reading this as a morbidly obese person or a person with sugar cravings, you understand what I am saying. If this resonates with you, I invite you to join me on this journey.

If you haven’t read my book, Sweet Grace, you must get it now and read it. Get Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction and study it while you read the book. I know these two books can help jump start you on your journey.

Then, join me on my Facebook page or comment here and let me know how you are doing.

Remember, nothing tastes as good as freedom feels.

Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.

Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach and speaker, who has lost more than 250 pounds. Her book, "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor", is the number 1 Christian Weight Loss Memoir on Amazon. Her other books include: "Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy", "Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help", "Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation" and "Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God".

She also offers Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy and VIP one-on-one coaching program, both available under the weight loss tab. To book Teresa for your next event, check the Speaking tab on her website. Also check out her blog and Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast under the tabs by those names.