People always get this really surprised look when I say I have a sugar addiction. As if the fact that I talk so much about healthy eating means I don’t get tempted. Because I totally do. The difference between the old me and me in the present is how I handle my addiction.
For much of my life, I ate something sweet with every meal. I had a ‘lightly sweetened’ cereal for breakfast. My lunch included a protein bar. And I’d top off dinner with some low-fat frozen yogurt. Something I thought was healthier, but was filled with sugar. Talk about a sweet tooth.
And those were the days when I was being good. Forget about the days when all hell broke loose. On those days, I took in more sugar than I now do in a couple of months. Sugar addiction is real people.
So I want to talk about how I quit my sugar addiction. Because it wasn’t all willpower. I went through a transformation that lessened sugar’s grip on me. Maybe if you’re struggling with sugar addiction, my story will help you see it’s possible to find a way out. Or maybe it will help you find your own way.
So here’s what I did to quit my sugar addiction.
I ate more fat
Before I gave up sugar, I’d been fat phobic. I worked to keep my fat consumption relatively low. Once I gave up sugar, I discovered that eating good quality fats really helped quiet my cravings. I found snacking on nuts and seeds especially fulfilling.
The secret was that I had to keep my consumption of bad fats low. Think things like fried fats and saturated fats. But good quality fats are digested slowly. They helped keep my blood sugar even, reducing cravings, and keeping me full.
I focused on fruit that was in season
When I quit my sugar addiction, I didn’t give up all sugar. I gave up added sugar like in soda, ice cream, cookies, and cakes. I also read food labels to rid my diet of added sugar in soups, pasta sauces, bread, and more. However, I let myself eat a moderate amount of healthy fruit, full of nutritious fiber.
The trick was to eat fruit that was in-season. This fruit was perfectly ripe, sweet and so fulfilling. And this helped take the place of all that added sugar. Substituting a better quality sugar helped me transition from a high sugar lifestyle.
I didn’t count calories
When I quit my sugar addiction, my goal wasn’t weight loss. That was just a happy side effect. My goal was to eliminate added sugar for disease prevention and wellbeing. So after years of focusing on weight loss, I stopped worrying about calories and focused on nourishment instead.
It became liberating to not feel guilty about eating until I was full. And this was my consolation prize for parting ways with all my sweets. I of course focused on healthy foods. But I found healthier foods that made me happy. And as I mentioned before, I very naturally lost weight.
I created a new reward system
I used to have sugar treats scattered throughout the day as little rewards and pick-me-up. Getting rid of added sugar meant I had to make big changes to my reward system. I had a gaping hole in my life where sugar used to sit. This had to be filled.
My answer was to light candles in the evening. I’ve always found candles really relaxing. And this new ritual became associated with rest and relaxation after a hard day. So maybe this wan’t exactly the same as a bowl of ice cream. But it was pretty fulfilling.
I read food labels like a madwoman
Added sugar is in almost everything. And I had been eating tons of hidden sugar without even realizing. So I started paying extra close attention to food labels. I didn’t buy anything without reading the label first. And doing so allowed me to eliminate so much sugar.
The interesting thing is that this was sugar I didn’t even appreciate. It was innocently hiding in foods that weren’t even supposed to be sweet. And removing this improved my sugar cravings after meals.
I let myself have sugar once a week
This certainly won’t work for everyone. For some, this may trigger an all out sugar binge. But for me, allowing myself a once a week treat worked magically. I couldn’t cut out sugar without allowing myself to have it in moderation.
Having sugar once a week enabled me to turn it down on other days. If I was offered something sweet, I would ask myself to just say no for today. I could have it later in the week, but not today. And my sugar addiction really liked this bargaining tool.
I noticed how good I was feeling
It’s hard to give something up without getting something equally desirable in return. And for me, taming my sugar addiction had some great rewards. Things like clearer skin, more stable hormones, and feeling less lethargic in the afternoon. Oh- and also weight loss.
Whenever I’d have moments when I’d want to go on a full blown sugar binge, I’d remind myself how good I was feeling. This was a lot to give up for a little sweetness. So I constantly reminded myself of the benefits. And this went a long way for keeping me on track.
Do you consider yourself a sugar addict? Have you struggled with sugar addiction in the past? If so, what did you do about it? Let me know in the comments!