Do you have a sweet tooth? Do you crave something sweet all the time, and especially when you are stressed and upset? Do you find yourself enjoying a slice of cake and before you know it, you reach for a second (or third) helping? And do you feel horribly guilty a day later? If that’s you, you’re not alone. Sweet cravings are a very common problem that most of us have faced at least some point in our lives.
So why is this a problem? Refined sugar is just empty calories. You get no nutrients, no vitamins, minerals or antioxidants from refined sugar. Yet added refined sugar is everywhere. The more sugar you eat, the more you crave it (More on this in another post). And of course – when you’re addicted, you keep eating more and more junk food that just gives you excess calories and overloads your liver. Not only do you put on weight – all the excess sugar gets deposited as abdominal fat.
I needed chocolates EVERY day. Just like that. When I was happy, I would eat some, and when I was upset I would eat more. I would kid myself into thinking that I wasn’t really addicted to it. I thought I just ate so many chocolates because I loved chocolates and since I wasn’t really unhealthy or overweight (I was at least 10 lbs overweight) I could afford to indulge a little. But when I started my course in holistic nutrition I understood how bad sugar was and realized I needed to do something about my addiction. (When I say “sugar is bad” in this post, I mean refined, added sugar. Fruits and naturally sweet foods aren’t bad at all).
The good part :
Here’s what I did, and what you can do too. I decided to cut out all sugar from my diet including hidden sugars. I understood very clearly why I wanted to do this (a very important point to keep you motivated). For the first couple of weeks or so I didn’t have anything with refined sugar in it. When I craved something sweet I just ate fruits instead. (Fruits are just wonderful, they satisfy the sweet tooth without the guilt). After that period I didn’t even feel like eating sweets or chocolates . On the rare occasion that I did, I’d make myself some chocolate or brownie from scratch and use dates to sweeten it (I had this maybe once a week). After several weeks of eating no refined sugar in any form – not even in ketchup or mayo – I now do have a little every now and then but I no longer crave it. It’s very important to understand that you can STILL have a little bit of sugar after you’ve successfully managed to stay away from it for a while, so that your body no longer craves sugar and you can stop eating the cookie or pastry or chocolate whenever you want. And that’s HUGE! Imagine being at a party and able to taste everything on the dessert menu and stop after a couple of bites (despite it being absolutely delicious), and not being too worse off for it. You could still eat a small slice of cake knowing that you will not be tempted to have too much. One of the reasons for this is when your cravings stop, you are in control of how much you want to eat. The cravings do not control you. Another reason is that after being away from sugar for a while, you will start finding most dessert too sweet for your liking, and that will make it so much easier to not overeat.
The tough part:
The toughest part, undoubtedly, is starting and sticking through it the first couple of weeks. Withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on how addicted you were to begin with. Be prepared for lots of mood swings and annoyance and even anger with everything in general. Keep reminding yourself why you wanted to cut out sugar from your life. After that when cravings disappear it gets a lot easier. Now when I go grocery shopping, I no longer need to grab a candy bar or ice cream. Couldn’t have imagined this a year ago. But when hubby brings some home some brownies I can still eat a small piece. I enjoy that tiny piece and that’s it. I don’t go on to eat a whole brownie (now I find it too sweet anyway). The important thing is knowing when to stop.
Cutting out sugar is one of most important (and rewarding) steps to good health. But don’t just stop at sugar. While you’re at it, cut out all refined and unhealthy junk and nourish yourself with whole foods. Fruits and smoothies and even desserts sweetened with whole foods are excellent options when you feel like having something sweet. The more nourished and well balanced your diet is, the less you will crave sugar. Oh, and please don’t think of using artificial sweeteners. That would just defeat the purpose.
Simple steps to stop sugar cravings:
- Do not eat anything with refined or added sugar for at least four weeks.
- Eat a wholesome, nutritious diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein and good fats.
- Do things that you enjoy doing (to keep your mind off sweets when you get withdrawal symptoms).
- Do NOT stay hungry. Plan and prepare healthy snacks and meals in advance to avoid unhealthy snacking when you get hungry. As long as what you eat is healthy and wholesome, do not count calories (because you don’t need to).
- Do some light/ moderate exercise for at least half an hour a day.
- Minimize caffeine consumption.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep every day.
- Avoid stress.
PS – Also remember not to drink your sugar (as sweetened beverages). In case you haven’t already, download my amazing sugar free dessert recipes here. You’ll never know this was sweetened with wholesome, natural sweeteners.
Did you successfully cut sugar from your diet? What did you do? Let me know!!