As part of my goal to live much healthier, sugar has got to go. Not to mention that anxiety and depression have become a relatively big issue in my life since the birth of my second son. A good friend suggested eliminating sugar from my diet may help.
No matter your reason for doing it, there is really no good reason to keep sugar in your diet. I believe most things are fine in moderation, but there is no moderation in my sugar intake.
First of all, let’s dig into how ridiculously bad my sugar addiction is. I don’t drink water. I recently made a commitment to drink way more of it because I’m trying to lose the baby weight I gained during my second pregnancy, but usually – I don’t drink water. It just doesn’t occur to me. I’d much rather drink pop (soda, Coke, depending on where you are), coffee, juice, tea… Just about anything except for water.
The absolute best way to break a sugar addiction is to give it up cold turkey. I know this and so I’ve tried numerous times. Especially during pregnancy. The thing is, I immediately get crazy migraines from giving up the sugar habit. Even my midwife’s suggestions for dealing with migraines during pregnancy included coke.
This makes it really hard for me to stick with giving it up when I would do anything to feel better as quickly as possible so I can get back to taking care of my gorgeous boys.
Drink More Water
Honestly, drinking more water has helped immensely. I would say that’s step number one. As with any addiction, when you give up something, you’re going to replace it with something else. It’s either going to be something you fall into because you weren’t planning on needing a replacement, or you’re going to pick a healthier alternative.
For me, drinking water is that alternative. I’m currently aiming for 68 ounces of water a day per my friend’s advice, but even this is less than I really should be drinking because I’m breastfeeding.
If you’re not cutting out as much caffeine as I am, you should be cancelling out the caffeine you’re drinking with water. This means for every 6-ounce cup of coffee I drink, I need an extra 6 ounces of water on top of the 68 I’m already drinking.
Cut Out Obvious Sugar
Next, cut out the obvious sugar. For me this was sugar in my coffee, candy, and sugary drinks.
I absolutely allow myself some sugar now and then, but my ultimate goal is to have almost no sugar in my diet except for fruit (but not fruit juice!)
If you usually sprinkle sugar on your cereal – don’t.
If you coat your cereal in honey like I did, stop.
All of the obvious sugar you’re adding to your diet is a really easy one to cut out as a second step to beating this addiction.
Learn to Say No!
This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve tried (and failed) numerous times to finally quit my sugar addiction. The thing is, we travel so much and spend so much time with friends that we’re continuously faced with limited options for snacks and meals on the road, or with well-meaning friends that offer us unhealthy snacks and drinks.
For a sugar addict like me, it’s really hard to turn down that cinnamon roll – know what I’m sayin’?
Now, I’m telling everyone up front that we’re trying to give up our sugar habit, so expect some really boring houseguests. Even though they might make fun of us for yet another crazy diet restriction, they’re generally really supportive.
I’ve talked about it before, but we have really amazing friends.
Keep Healthier Options Available
We’re big snackers in our house and unhealthy options are the easiest to grab during a quick grocery trip. We’re used to having granola bars and candy at the ready.
For the past few weeks, we’ve been buying much healthier options instead. Raw almonds are a new favorite of mine.
Read Nutrition Labels
Have you ever looked at the back of your pasta sauce jar? What about your milk carton? Oatmeal packets?
Make it a habit to educate yourself about how much sugar you’re actually consuming. 4 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar. Imagine sprinkling 2 teaspoons of sugar on top of your spaghetti. Depending on what pasta sauce you buy, that may be exactly what you’re doing.
When you have the motivation to give up sugar, take advantage of it and use it to propel you to success.
I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have committed to a diet plan or a healthier lifestyle only to say “once we eat all of the junk in the cabinets, we’ll start.”
We’re basically saying “God forbid we throw away a few dollars worth of crap to live a healthier life.” How much is that sugar in your cabinet really worth to you?
Did you pay so much for those canned peaches that you’re willing to eat all of that syrup and pretend you’re just eating fruit?
Go through your cabinets, your fridge, and your freezer and purge all of the sugary things you find. Make a list as you go and decide to replace your essentials with healthier alternatives.
If you threw away granola or breakfast bars with tons of added sugar, add it to your shopping list. Going without sugar doesn’t have to mean going without. There are a few healthy bar options out there. You could even replace your dairy milk with unsweetened almond milk.
These are just two ways that we’re limiting the sugar in our home, but you can find many others in your own kitchen.
This is one area that I don’t need any help. I avoid aspartame like the plague. I heard scary stories about what it does once it enters your blood stream years ago and I haven’t been able to forget. Diet pops, sugar free candies, I avoid it all.
Sugar-free is NOT a healthy alternative to quitting your sugar habit. We have to break the addiction to sweets – not just sugar. No matter what form the sweets come in.
Also, did you know that sugar replacements can act as a laxative if you take them in high enough doses? Just ask my husband. TMI?
How to Beat Cravings
When I first get a craving for sugar, I chug a bottle of water. Seriously. As quick as I can get it down. Usually, this helps.
If I’m still grumpy and really need a sugar fix, I’ll grab an apple or banana. I know there is still sugar in fruit, but it isn’t as bad for you and doesn’t wreak as much havoc on your blood sugar like a candy bar would. This is because there is fiber in fruit that helps slow how quickly your body absorbs the sugar in fruit.
If you do give in and have something to satisfy your sweet tooth, that definitely doesn’t mean you have to go back to your old ways. One of my favorite quotes about this comes from Jillian Michaels who said if you get a flat tire, do you slash the other three?
Just get back on that wagon tomorrow. Oh and one last thing – don’t wait for Monday. If you screw up on a Thursday and have a slice of cake, don’t blow it all weekend just to start over again Monday. I’ve done it a million times. This goes back to my point about using that motivation to propel you forward.
If you feel guilty for cheating a little, use that motivation to make the next attempt even more successful. We got this!
Do you have a sugar addiction? Are you trying to live healthier? What steps are working for you? Let me know in the comments!