I decided to say goodbye to one of my favorite things to eat…sugar. I know what you’re thinking… ‘you’re crazy, there’s no way I could do that, I’d crave it too much.’ Well, that was the main reason I decided to give it a try. It’s like being an addict… you eat something that has sugar or artificial sweeteners or additives in them and then what does your body do? You guessed it, makes you want more. I’ve read about this topic and watched documentaries about the scary food world we live in today and they put it perfectly for all of us sugar addicts out there… everything is laced with sugar of some kind by the food industry. So the question is, how do you overcome this addiction when we live in a world where it’s nearly impossible to do? If I can take steps in the right direction, you can too. Trust me, I lead a healthy, active lifestyle and most people would say to me that I work out a lot so I can pretty much eat whatever I want. I agree to a point because one small reason out of the many reasons I lead the life I do is so I can enjoy life and not restrict myself on special occasions. But I don’t always have the willpower people think I do.
Here’s a little story about why I decided to end my toxic relationship with sugar. On my birthday this year I got the most delicious 11×14 pan of cookie butter bars from a client. What are those you ask? Well let me tell you… they are a layer of cake mix, a stick of butter and an egg, followed by a layer of Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter (which is cookies ground up into a peanut butter consistency… eat-it-with-a-spoon good) mixed with a can of condensed milk to make it seem almost like caramel… but better. Then it is topped off with three kinds of chips… chocolate, butterscotch and white chocolate. I mean these puppies are dense, rich and absolutely delicious and in moderation during my birthday week they would’ve been totally fine. Well, I came to realize that moderation does not mean eating three quarters of the pan in four days. If that didn’t slap me in the face as a sugar addiction problem, I’m not sure that anything would.
So I bought a book a coworker recommended with the catchy and appropriate title of ‘I Quit Sugar’ and off I went on my quest to be bigger than my addiction. How many times do we tell ourselves that we can’t do something? Is it because we can’t do it or we don’t want to? I always said I could never give up sugar and the truth of it was I didn’t want to. So I decided to stop being a victim of the ‘I can’t’ and move forward with the ‘Why can’t I?’ attitude.
It’s hasn’t been easy, I’ll admit that but I went into it knowing it most definitely wouldn’t be. I knew I’d be hungry, cranky and want to quit and go back to my old ways but since I went into it knowing this would happen I was able to push through and stay strong. Now I feel like I should pay it forward and help others tackle this addiction once and for all. I should preface all of this by saying that I won’t go the rest of my life without sugar. There will be parties and holidays and happy times that I want to celebrate and enjoy but what I will be able to do is find moderation with my sugar servings and know that I can stop eating it after that appropriate portion size and feel satisfied instead of feeling like I want more. I will be bigger than my circumstances because I am in control instead of the addiction taking control.
So how did I go about all of these eating habit changes?
1. Take an honest look at your daily sugar intake. It’s amazing how much we consume without even knowing it. Right now, according to the documentary Hungry For Change, an adult consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day on average. Can you imagine eating 22 spoonfuls of sugar a day? Of course there are natural sugars in foods that are good for you on a daily basis but even too much of a good thing can be bad. It’s important to take into account ALL sugar… good and bad.
2. Start to read food labels more carefully. Sugar is disguised on many food labels and a lot of times it’s in the form of something we can’t pronounce. The heavy hitter when it comes to sugar is fructose.Your body doesn’t acknowledge it when it is in your system so instead of metabolizing it, it holds onto it and eventually turns into fat. Also, one thing to know when looking at a dairy product label is that the first 12 grams of sugar is in the form of lactose which your body can use and can also recognize it and in turn use it to help your body. So in general, awareness is the first step to ‘recovery’… recognize the problem and slowly learn how to be proactive about doing something about it.
3. Give yourself some time to slowly start eliminating the ‘bad sugars’ first and start incorporating more healthy fats. Keep natural sugar in your diet such as fruits or plain whole fat yogurt but start saying goodbye to the artificial and processed sugars. Start adding in more healthy fats such as avocado, meat and cheese. These food ideas should all be full fat as opposed to low fat because low fat just means they had to alter the food somehow to take some of it out. Fat will curb your hunger faster and satisfy you enough to curb your sugar cravings.
4. Give your body time to get used to the change. The women who wrote the book I read did an 8 week detox from sugar including natural sugar as well to get it completely out of her body and then she could reintroduce it and her body would react differently to it. I’m not saying you have to do an 8 week no-sugar diet but find what works for you. If having an apple or some full fat yogurt will help get you through the day, have those types of snacks in moderation.
This is a lot for your body to take on depending on how much sugar you intake in a day but allow your body to function without it and just see how you feel. There are a lot of great sugar free recipes out there made of natural ingredients and will give you the sweet taste that you need but won’t be harmful to your body. Be bigger than your cravings and addictions and test your willpower. Like I said before, in order to do something you have to want to do it for yourself. Take care of your body and fuel with it real food and tackle that sweet tooth once and for all.