You Can Beat Sugar Addiction, Too
It’s been four and a half months since I cut sugar out of my diet and I am not craving sweets all the time. In fact, most desserts that I used to enjoy taste too sugary now. I eat a little dark chocolate as my main sweet/comfort food but only in small quantities. On a really stressful day, I may hit a chocolate bar several times, but that’s about the only sugar I have. It’s also clear that I’m better off without the processed foods that I now won’t go near because of the added sugar. I now see this commitment to stay off sugar as a practice to go deeper.
Eating with others is one of the blessings of being a social human and we all have rituals and expectations around food – primarily that we eat the same things, together. It’s still hard to go to a party or a restaurant and forgo alcohol and dessert but it has gotten easier with time. When I do indulge, I stop sooner and have fewer problems with late-night indigestion. Also, more of my friends are starting to eat Paleo, gluten-free, or avoid sugar. That helps mitigate the social cost of eating differently. As I deepen the healthy habit and am more conscious about my eating, I’m holding a boundary for myself that I used to let slide. I’m also building new friendships with people who are also willing to make big-picture choices for the health of their bodies and the planet.
Support yourself to change habits
Make gradual changes that you can sustain and build on. Support yourself by having healthy food available, prepared ahead of time. You can prepare healthy food on Sunday to set yourself up for the week. Substitute White Bean Beanitos or Harvest Snaps Snapea Crisps for Doritos, Fritos, and the standard chips. Shop at the health food store for most of your prepared foods as they usually have healthier ingredients and less sugar.
As you substitute for healthier foods, your palette will shift such that you will prefer them.
Battling Sugar bugs, to win
When my kids were little and my teeth felt coated and yucky, I used to say that I felt the “sugar bugs” on my teeth and had to go brush them. Carving candy meant that the sugar bugs wanted feeding. We would notice that the “sugar bugs” got heavy and bloated after the load of pizza and cake at a birthday party. When we’d gone too long between cleaning we’d say, “Whoa, sugar bug attack!”
Emotional eating is part of the problem. As I substitute healthy foods for junk and eat better, it has become obvious when I am eating to satisfy emotional cravings. If I find myself foraging in the cupboards for comfort food to soothe an emotional upset, I don’t have quick-fix foods to grab any more. That slows me down enough to realize I’m not hungry, I’m upset. At first it was hard to sit with my uncomfortable feelings but the more I unhook from the addictive habit, the easier it gets. The trick is to start small and build gradually.
When you’re in the gunk, you probably don’t recognize where it comes from. As you transition out of it, you can feel the difference. I can only describe what I’m feeling now as less gluey-ness. I’ve gone on cleanses over the years but this is different. I’m committed, this time. My focus is different. I have less inflammation in my joints. I think more clearly. Avoiding gluten and cow’s milk products wasn’t enough to restore my balance – though it did help my allergic symptoms. For more complete health, I had to eliminate sugar from my diet as well.
Life is Better Off Sugar
My tongue is clean and pink (no coating) and my joints feel much better. Doing fine work with my fingers had become painful and I had to stop sewing and making jewelry. Now I’m back doing those things I love without impediment. I attribute that to the decrease in inflammation from cutting out sugar. It feels like my metabolism is slow and my body isn’t letting me loose weight. And I’m starting to talk to the bacteria in my gut. I thank them for helping me digest my food and tell them I’m working to improve their living conditions. As odd as that might sound, that seems to be making the biggest difference. I really do love my body and I appreciate how much it does for me, allows me to do for others, and just generally lets me enjoy being in a body!
It’s great to feel I’m not a slave to sugar anymore. The sugar bugs are definitely not running me now and I have a quieter field to hear what does run me. Without the louder call to eat sugar, I’m hearing more subtle messages and diving deeper into my health. I wanted to find the sweetness in life without sugar and that is just what is emerging.
It feels like my skin and muscles are communicating better, with less interference. When I brushed my teeth last night, I noticed that my tongue is losing the thick, nasty white coat it usually wears and it’s looking more pink and baby-like. It feels less glue-y, like it can breathe better. I don’t remember my tongue ever looking this good.
I’m fully aware of the cost of sugar addiction. I watched my obese, diabetic mom struggle with her health her whole life. Her lifetime of eating the Standard American Diet without exercise, lead to anti-depressants, diabetes, breast cancer, and dementia. So many of us are in a similar unhealthy state – physically surviving without thriving. We can change that.
THIS time, I’m determined and I am not going back. Here are Dr. Harmon’s 10 detox ideas for getting off sugar. Stay tuned as the pounds melt away, my gut goes back on-line, and my body, mind and emotions come back into harmony! Maybe my journey will inspire you. 😉
Lemon Water in the Morning:
I am still drinking the juice of a lemon with water 20 min before eating breakfast to alkalize my system, stimulate enzyme production, aid digestion, clear the skin, etc. For a list of the benefits of this practice, click here. I was diluting the fresh juice with cold water but have switched to warm water over cold because it felt like it was a shock to my system. I also started using a straw to drink my lemon water in the morning because my lips were reporting signs of acid burn/dryness and I was worried about de-enameling my teeth. One blog said to brush the teeth before drinking the lemon juice and rinse with plain water after. You definitely don’t want to leave that much acid on your teeth for long but he benefits are huge and the effects on the teeth can be minimized with rinsing. Lily at BalanceMeBeautiful has plenty more to say about lemon water.
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