When my friends and I used to go out to diners when I was in high school, I would literally eat sugar packets (I know that sounds gross to some of you but, I bet not all of you). Sugar has always been there for me. If I feel down or mad or happy, it is ALWAYS the right occasion to have some sort of sugar-filled delight.
The question I have been asking myself recently is, "at what cost?" I have been reading a lot lately that you can be addicted to sugar, that sugar addiction can be as powerful as an addiction to alcohol or narcotics...what?!?! When I first read this, I was like, "yeah, right". I can quit anytime...or can I? Case in point, there were cookies in the kitchen today at work and they were my favorite, chocolate chip. This was a perfect time to test my theory that I could quit at anytime. Any guesses what I did? Well, 5 cookies later...I guess I can't quit at any time. So, what do I do, how do I break this physical/mental/emotional tie to sugar. Well, first here is a list of five symptoms of possibly being addicted to sugar I found at http://technorati.com/lifestyle/article/five-symptoms-that-youre-addicted-to/:
1. You Crave Sugar Despite Being FullIf you are generally well nourished and have just finished a fulfilling meal, and still find yourself craving sugar, then that is a clear sign of something unnatural.
2. You Feel Guilty Afterwards, But Do it Again Soon
It is common to get a guilty conscience after an unplanned "cheat meal". If this happens to you, but you still find yourself doing it again soon, then you may have a problem.
3. You Have Tried to Quit Multiple Times
Perhaps you've realized that all the sugar you're eating may be hindering your weight loss efforts. Now you try to quit eating sugar, but still find yourself reaching for a treat several days later. Perhaps this has happened repeatedly and you're constantly angry at yourself for the lack of willpower.
4. You Make up Excuses About Why You Should Cheat
The way a craving feels is like your brain is arguing with itself, trying to sell you some excuse as to why it would be a good idea to indulge, despite having made a decision not to.
5. You Can't Quit Despite Physical ProblemsPerhaps you've got bad breath, acne or your teeth are getting damaged. You may even be severely overweight and diabetic. You know these serious physical problems are caused by your unhealthy lifestyle and still you just can not quit, no matter what.
After I read this list I realized that I could answer yes to all 5. Ugh! The one that got me the most is the fact that I have been trying to lose weight but, when it came down to it, I couldn't give up sugar for more than 3 days without going back to it. So what is a girl or guy to do to quit this habit that sabotages or health and or efforts at weight loss?
1. You need to be committed. Just like with anything, if you are not committed to something, you will not succeed.
2. Write down all the reasons why you want to quit sugar, i.e. health, weight loss, energy, etc. Go back to that list when you are especially feeling tempted.
3. Find something to fill that "sugar void". We use sugar as a reward in so many situations. Instead of "rewarding" yourself with a cookie or ice cream, do something good for yourself. Take a walk, get a mani/pedi, read, find something to do that isn't food related!
4. You need to quit for at least 3 weeks. You can't quit for a couple of days and then think that you can have "just a little bite". That, "little bite" will snowball into days or weeks of eating sugar on a daily basis. 3 weeks should give your body time to adjust to not having sugar and after that 3 weeks, you will feel so much better, you won't want to go back.
5. If you are able, do something like The Ultimate Reset, this will restore your body and help you get rid of unhealthy cravings. There is so many other benefits as well, you can lose weight and have more energy and who couldn't use more energy!
6. Drink plenty of water!!! That can't be emphasized more!
7. Eat protein at every meal; it is digested more slowly than simple carbohydrates and will leave you feeling fuller for a longer period of time. You will therefore be more likely to resist the urge to eat dessert every night after dinner.
8. If you are considering having that donut, walk away for 15 minutes and drink some water. In 15 minutes your craving should subside.
I know that this sounds like a lot. If you take it one day at a time (sometimes, one minute at a time) you can do this and reap the benefits!
I am starting a nutrition challenge on facebook next week. The challenge will last for 6 weeks. One of the requirements is kicking the sugar habit. Will you join me? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and lets do this together!