You did it! You survived the holiday season. Well almost, New Years is still around the corner. We don’t have to wait until then to start talking about pulling the reins back in and getting off the sugar train. The solution doesn’t have to be complicated, hard, or require a special diet.
Your favorite holiday drug …
If you’ve ever been to one of my presentations you probably know that I’m a professed recovering sugar addict. The kind of thing you don’t like to admit as a “Health Coach.” Sugar is addictive. If you don’t believe me, consider this….a substance is classified as addictive if:
- Eating a small amount creates a desire for more (who eats one cookie?)
- Suddenly quitting causes withdrawal symptoms such as headache, mood swings, cravings, and fatigue (sound familiar?).
- Loss of control (the “standing in the freezer sneaking ice cream bites” syndrome)
- Continued use despite adverse consequences (when you can actually see your butt expanding but you don’t care)
- Relapse rate is 97% (the “what’s one bite?” syndrome)
- Progressive and terminal (the more you eat, the more you want and the more you eat, the worse it is for your health)
In the past few weeks if you indulged in some sweetness, did you find yourself craving more (probably at the same time of day)? I did. And did you give in? I did. And have you found yourself sneaking a few small treats every day swearing to yourself that come New Years, you’ll stop or start exercising or something along those lines? I did. Don’t beat yourself up. You’re up against an addictive and delicious foe.
So what to do now…?
Am I asking you to give up sweets? Absolutely not! I’ve done that and it’s a road that doesn’t lead you to a healthier place. It actually leads to a crazy place where you feel starved no matter how much you put in your belly. A healthy life is a balanced one – so expecting yourself to forever abstain from something your body naturally craves doesn’t seem very plausible.
My point is that it is really easy to get addicted to sugar and start an unhealthy habit vs. indulging in a well-deserved once-in-a-while treat. Follow these tips and I guarantee you can get off the sugar train. I do it every time I feel myself slipping and you can too.
Get off the sugar train…
1. Go cold turkey – I’m serious. The longer you keep eating it the longer it takes to break the craving cycle. Get it out of your body and the cravings will stop. It takes 3 days for me. That’s it.
You’ll want to cut out all refined sugar. I would also suggest taking out fruit juices for a while if you drink those a lot. You can also choose to cut out refined white flour products as well because they act as simple sugars in the body.
2. Make a plan
- Clear the temptation out of your house as best you can. Out-of-sight out-of-mind works too. All of my husband’s stuff gets banished to “the drawer”.
- Buy alternatives that make you excited about food and will help quell the yelling sweet tooth. Plan out your week. What are you going to eat for meals and snacks? Are there any events you need to navigate? If you don’t plan – you won’t make it. Take 30 minutes and get your butt to the store.
Here are some naturally sweet ideas:
Roasted root veggies with coconut oil and cinnamon
Fruit smoothie (with real fruit)
Sliced apples with nut butter
Dried fruits/nuts (GORP)
Mix raw honey into unsweetened Greek yogurt
Sweet herb teas
Celery and nut butter and raisins
Fresh or dried figs with a hazelnut
- Baked sweet potato
- Stevia (a natural alternative to artificial sweetener and the only one I recommend)
3. Eat a solid delicious breakfast – you hear this one all the time…because it’s TRUE! Starting off with something that’s going to keep you satiated and well-nourished goes a long way to set you up to be immune against pesky cravings. Here’s a list of awesome breakfast ideas.
4. Walk it off – just a small walk can do wonders for your mood and it beats cravings. Half the time we’re just bored when we open the refrigerator door. Get out there and get your endorphins going. You’ll be a different human when you get back. If a walk isn’t your thing – just move somehow.
Walk Motivators: Go with someone to spend time together, call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while on the way, take the dog, take time for you and leave everything else at home, or listen to an audio book.
5. Ditch the caffeine habit – don’t unsubscribe yet just hear me out. I know to some of you this sounds completely impossible. I promise, I understand the fear that strikes your heart at the idea of a morning without coffee. Here’s the truth about caffeine. It may help you temporarily but it sets you up for a crash later that leaves you more tired and craving quick energy like simple sugars.
Try it and if you don’t have more energy and less cravings … go back. I’ve had many clients thank me for getting them off the habit.
6. Drink more water – the bonus here is that your skin will look amazing instantly if you can master this.This is how much you need…
Why it really does matter…
Excess sugar consumption is tied to almost every disease including many types of cancer. It’s also tied to things like premature aging, wrinkles, weight gain. So basically, too much sugar makes you sick, old, fat, and wrinkled before your time. Awesome. All very good reasons to get it under control.
How much is too much? …
You might be thinking that this is all great for people who abuse sugar but that’s certainly not you, am I right? You only sweeten your coffee so what’s the big deal. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 tsp for women and 9 tsp for men. The average adult consumes approximately 22 tsp while the average child consumes 32tsp per day because it’s nicely hidden in so many of our fav foods. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you eat food from a box?
- Do you eat out?
- Do you eat white bread or flour products (pretzels, cookies, crackers, waffles)?
- Do you drink sodas or sweetened drinks of any kind (tea, redbull, soda, gatorade)?
- Do you love sweet dairy…(yogurts, ice cream)?
- Are you a Starbucks junkie?
- Do you order fries to eat the ketchup?
- Do you eat cereal or any kind of pastry for breakfast?
- Do you read labels to see what your food is made of?
If you answered yes to these questions and no to the last one – I can promise you’re getting more added sugar than you suspect you are. You’re not alone. We do sugar in a BIG way in this country. Check out this article for some stats that you won’t even believe.
The bottom line…
You can break your sugar habit. As you learn to eat without so much sugar you’ll stop craving it and start to notice how it impacts your energy and general well-being – so it’s easy to keep it up. 80% of the time I do my best to eat well and 20% of the time I say eff it and eat what makes me happy. Luckily a lot of the time, the healthy stuff is what makes me happy because I feel the best and you will too. You can do it. And if you can’t, I can help. Talk to me.