Living sugar-free is a healthy choice. But, it isn’t an easy one. So what do you do when despite your best intentions you can’t stop consuming too much sugar?
You use these 4 sugar-busting strategies to get you back on track and living sugar-free.
IS IT GOING TO BE EASY?
There are two types of people: those who can resist sugar and those who can’t.
The ease with which you banish sugar from your life is going to depend on what kind of person you are.
TYPE A: Sugar? I can take it or leave it.
This strange (to me) bunch can walk by an entire plate of their favourite cookies and not even taste one. My husband belongs to this group, and to be perfectly honest it kind of bugs me 😉
For these folks living sugar-free is easy as pie – and they might not even eat the pie.
TYPE B: You mean you can choose to not eat the pie?
This is the group that I fall in. It doesn’t even occur to me that I don’t have to eat the pie. Plus, I might only eat one piece of pie, telling myself that it’s enough, but I’m not really fooling myself. By the end of the night, I will have eaten every piece.
For those in this second group, living sugar-free is a bit more challenging – to say the least.
WILL IT BE WORTH IT?
Absolutely. If you’re with me in the second group, those who can’t walk by a sugary treat (and if you’re like me, you actually can feel the sugar calling), it’s freeing to break free from the grip of sugar.
Sugar causes me a lot of guilt, and I’m going to go out on a limb that if your relationship with sugar is similar to mine, then you probably feel it too. I know sugar isn’t good for me. It isn’t good for me just in general, and it’s terrible for my chronic condition. So when I eat it, I feel guilty.
Guilt aside, sugar does all kinds of wonky things to your body. For one, it messes with your blood sugar – which can be quite a roller coaster ride. For two, it puts you at a higher risk for Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. There’s even some research suggesting that sugar is linked to dementia (High sugar and dementia and Nutrition and Dementia) – scary stuff. Once your body is free of the sugar, you’ll feel better. You’ll likely have more energy and mental clarity. Perhaps you won’t even need your mid-afternoon coffee or nap because your blood sugar won’t be crashing out on you.
Trying to be sugar-free? Succumbed to sugary temptation? Try these 4 Sugar Busting Strategies to Get You Back on Track! Click To Tweet
4 SUGAR BUSTING STRATEGIES TO GET YOU BACK ON TRACK AND LIVING SUGAR-FREE
You’ve fallen off the sugar wagon, and you probably have some pretty negative emotions banging around inside of you. But in order to get back on the straight and narrow, you need to cut yourself some slack.
Forgiving yourself might not seem like a concrete strategy, but it’s crucial to finding your footing again. You can’t move forward if you’re beating yourself up over your past.
You’re human and sugary things are so delicious. Plus, they’re everywhere. It’s not surprising that you’re going to have some bumps on the road to living sugar-free.
If you’re like me and your relationship with sugar goes past the way it makes your taste buds sing, then every day is a challenge. And unlike when people are recovering from other kinds of addictions, like alcohol and drugs, you’re constantly surrounded by easily accessible sugar – packaged up to be so tempting.
I have some thoughts on sugar being everywhere in our society. You can read about it in my post Of Course We’re Having Candy Apples: Sugar 1 – Me O.
Yes, I’m aware that sugar isn’t really fully recognized as an addiction, but check out what this article on The Recovery Village, a website dedicated to addiction treatment, has to say about the link between sugar and alcoholism.
Yes, you’ve stumbled in your quest to be living sugar-free, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t continue the journey. You’re still moving forward, even if you’re only crawling.
So be gentle with yourself – and forgive, so you can get back on track.
We all know that if someone has a problem with alcohol, then the best approach is to remove temptation. The same holds true for sugar. It’s so much easier to not eat the pie, if the pie isn’t sitting on your counter where you can see it every time you walk by.
And when I say remove, I mean banish the sugary temptations from your home. If they’re in your cupboard you’ll be keenly aware that they’re there. In fact they will be singing a siren song to lure you into taking a bite.
One of my biggest challenges in living sugar-free is being an adult. Yup, the fact that I make my own money and have a vehicle makes the sugar super accessible. Especially now that grocery stores are open 24 hours. Plus pretty much everywhere I go has a vending machine spotlighting the sugary delights that await me.
But, let’s be honest, even though I could conceivably run (drive) to the store at any time and indulge my sugar cravings, I’m much less likely to do it than if the sugary delights are right in my kitchen.
BONUS TIP: Don’t carry change. If you don’t have change, you can’t buy things from a vending machine. Of course, this doesn’t always work anymore because some genius designed vending machines that take bills and credit cards. Let’s just not talk about the horror.
THE SECOND PART TO REMOVING TEMPTATIONS
There’s a second part to removing temptations. Whenever I find myself back sliding towards a high-sugar diet, I can track it back to some small decisions I made around sugar. For example, I might have indulged myself by putting a bit of honey in my tea. On the surface this action is harmless. There’s nothing unhealthy about putting a bit of honey in my tea now and then.
But for me, honey in my tea is ‘gateway’ sugar. That little bit of innocuous sugar paves the way for other sugar indulgences until I’m scarfing down the white stuff like it was a vegetable.
So, besides removing the obvious sugar from your house, you need to examine the small habits you have that might be sabotaging your efforts.
When you’re examining your behavior for potential saboteurs, don’t forget about the people you interact with. Try to spend time with people who help you in your quest to make healthy decisions rather than those who undermine your attempts by tempting you. Sugar saboteurs are a real thing.
ADD THINGS RATHER THAN TAKING THEM AWAY
Naturally, when you’ve decided to start living sugar-free or in this case get back to living sugar-free, your first response is likely to banish all the sugar. But, this isn’t necessarily the best approach.
Focusing on what you’re giving up is likely going to make you extra hyper aware of all the sugary options around you – your cravings will go through the roof. Instead, focus on introducing new and delicious foods into your diet.
When I learned that limiting my sugar was critical for the long term management of my chronic condition, I was coached by my naturopath to start increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables that I was eating each day until I was up to 6 cups. She said that by focusing on adding the vegetable and fruits in, I wouldn’t feel deprived.
Plus, when you start eating that amount of vegetables, you just don’t have room to eat all the sugary treats.
And an added bonus is that eventually your taste buds will start to change too. You’ll find the flavours of the vegetables and fruits to be amazing, while the sugary things you used to love start to taste sickly-sweet.
SET YOURSELF A SUGAR-FREE CHALLENGE
Forever is a really long time, and if you’re committed to living sugar-free that’s how long you have to resist its lure.
You don’t have to focus on the forever part. It’s not helpful – probably actually just makes you want to give up.Break forever down into doable parts. Click To Tweet
I like starting with a 30 day sugar-free challenge. I pledge to myself that I will go 30 days without eating any overt sugar. At first, I don’t count things like bread and pasta that my body processes like sugar. It’s important to keep it as easy as possible, because it’s going to be hard enough as it is.
Each day I record the number of days I’m at. I like to count up, but you might prefer to count down. Mark the number somewhere prominent so you can see it – I use my journal.
I like 30 days because I find that it’s long enough that by the time I get there living sugar-free has started to be a habit. Often, when I get to the 30 day mark, I’m ready to keep going to 45 days.
Be gentle with yourself and honest about your ability in this moment. If 30 days is too much, then start with a lower number. The point is to succeed.So set yourself a sugar-free challenge! Click To Tweet
WHAT ABOUT IF YOU’RE JUST STARTING OUT?
The above strategies, while meant to get you back on track, can also help you if you’re just starting on your living sugar-free adventure. For additional concrete strategies for reducing/eliminating sugar from your diet you can check out the following posts:
SO WHERE AM I AT?
I’m in the process of getting myself back to living sugar-free. Living sugar-free is a struggle for me. Keeping the white stuff out of my diet is a big challenge.
I would go so far as to say that I have an unhealthy relationship with sugar. It isn’t just a delicious treat for me. It somehow has become a psychological coping mechanism for when my anxiety is high; which is a pretty hard connection to break, especially when I have an anxiety disorder.
I don’t really know if sugar addiction is a real thing. There are articles on both sides of the debate. But, I do know that it feels like an addiction to me.
It takes a little while for me to recognize that I’ve fallen back into the sugar trap and need to get back to living sugar-free. But once I’m aware that I’ve fallen back into old ways, I pull out my sugar busting strategies and get busy getting healthy.
SO WHAT WENT WRONG? WHY AREN’T I SUGAR-FREE AT THIS MOMENT?
There were probably a multitude of little things that resulted in me falling off the wagon, but the biggest one was a down-turn in my chronic illness. When my pain levels are high and I’m overwhelmed, I start craving sugary things. Eating them does nothing to make me feel better, except for about five minutes after it hits my taste buds, and I can feel my mind relax.
Plus, when I’m struggling with pain or anxiety, I just don’t have the strength to resist. One more reason to banish it from the house!
WHAT ABOUT TODAY? WHAT’S MY NEXT MOVE?
But now I’m back to being committed to making healthier choices and living sugar-free. I just feel better when I’m not ‘high’ on a sugar rush. When I’m not indulging in sugary foods, I don’t wake up with a ‘sugar hangover.’ Plus getting off the blood sugar roller coaster does wonders for my energy.
I hope my 4 Sugar Busting Strategies will help you get back on track to living sugar-free.
Do you have strategies you use to tame your sugar demons? I would love to hear them – please share in the comments below.
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