Sugar is hiding everywhere. It obviously lurks in desserts, sodas and fruit juice. But have you considered the store bought granola bars (a.k.a. candy bar) you give your kids, or the vanilla yogurt you eat for a snack? What about the sports drinks we (thanks to the marketing genius of Coke and Pepsi) insist our kids need (as if plain old water doesn’t count towards hydration anymore), or the barbecue sauce you used last night, the cereal you ate for breakfast and bread you made your kids sandwich on?
Is it any wonder that most of us are self proclaimed sugar addicts? There are some experts that say sugar is as addictive as heroin, and if you have ever tried to pull a popsicle away from your three year old, you know what I mean. Even though we are gaining weight at alarming rates (kids included), have frightening levels of diabetes and heart disease, we still can’t get enough of it.
It’s not always easy kicking our inner sugar addict to the curb. But with these three tips, you might be on your way to sweet freedom.
Sugar Addict Tip #1 Get clear information as to why all of us need to cut sugar out
Knowledge is power. Consider this: in the 1800’s the average American ate only 12 pounds of the sweet stuff a year. Diseases such as obesity, cancer, heart disease or diabetes were almost nonexistent. Sugar is not a necessary nutrient in our diet but somehow we adults today manage to eat an average of 132 pounds of it a year.
You know those mysterious 10 pounds that have slowly crept up over the years and have landed right on your belly? You can probably blame that on sugar. Excess sugar turns to fat and collects around your stomach and your liver. Sugar has also been linked to irritable bowel syndrome, depression, mood swings and fatigue. You can’t argue with facts.
Sugar Addict Tip #2 Get clear as to why YOU want to cut sugar from YOUR life
Now let’s get back to you. Sometimes there are deeper reasons that have to be addressed if we are going to cut out, or cut back, on sugar. Sugar is a quick fix and we physically crave it because we are truly hungry. Or we are in a sugar cycle of lows and highs that we can’t get out of. When meals are made up of protein, fiber, whole grains, fruits and vegetables we tend to stay fuller longer and have fewer drops in blood sugar. When we skip breakfast and begin our day with coffee with milk and sugar, we are setting ourselves up for a day of ravenous swings that only a quick fix like sugar seems to cure. By 3 o’clock you just might be caught rummaging through your kids old Easter candy. By 5 o’clock you are fatigued and reaching for a glass of wine to make yourself feel better.
Have you ever had a bad day, walked into your house and immediately grabbed a handful of cookies? It has happened to all of us. Sugar has so much emotional baggage tied around it, it might as well be hired out as a therapist. We all live surrounded by stress – money, kids, marriage, our body image. Most of us have been conditioned from childhood to reach for something sweet to soothe us. Sugar temporarily raises serotonin levels, the feel good hormone. But it will never take away what is bothering us in the first place. Think back to all the “rewards” we give in the form of a cookie. Think back on your own life when sugar became a habit, or a way to comfort yourself.
Tip #3 Find a better way to work through your physical and mental issues than eating sugar.
Now that you are aware that eating sugar is not only a physical habit, but an emotional habit, its time to figure out how to deal with it.
For the physical:
- Get the triggers out of the house. Sugar needs to find a new home. Purge your cabinets, get to know what names sugar takes on, and restock with healthy fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients like pure cacao powder to make this delicious sugar free dessert.
- Make breakfast a priority! Starting your morning on an empty stomach is akin to starving yourself. Your brain needs fuel. People who don’t eat breakfast tend to eat more throughout the day, never totally satisfied.
For the emotional:
- It is high time we learn to soothe ourselves without turning to sugar. The next time you are having a stressed out moment try calling a friend who will listen, take your dog for a walk, relax in a warm bath, try a gentle a yoga class.
- Are you tired? Don’t feel guilty about resting. Fatigue can make anything feel worse, especially a craving for sugar after an exhausting day.
Embrace sugar free:
After a while, your sugar threshold will lower and an orange will taste as sweet as a candy bar. I have a good for you, creamy dessert that is sugar free and yummy. Try it today and let me know what you think.
Need more help? I am available for one-on-one nutrition counseling to help you say goodbye to your inner sugar addict and hello to a world of balanced energy, healthy weight loss and delicious, nutritious eating. Email me today to chat.
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