THE SUGAR EPIPHANY
I can’t quite remember the moment it happened. I mean, I guess I always knew it on some level – but if I remember correctly, it took watching a documentary on the dangers of sugar for me to clue in that I needed to start living sugar-free.
Not sure why I needed someone to tell me. Now that I’ve figured it out, it seems like one of those COMMON-SENSE things.Looking back, living sugar-free seems like a common-sense thing. Click To Tweet
It wasn’t like I grew up in a household where it was a sugar free for all. In fact, my mom worked hard to keep our meals healthy and limit the amount of processed and sugary foods we ate. We really only had them when we’d go camping, and that was only to prevent my brothers and me from going crazy when we’d go to birthday parties and such.
Anyway, I watched a documentary. I could probably figure out which one, if I thought about it hard enough, but the exact one isn’t important. What is important is that it suddenly dawned on me that the sugary comfort food that I was liberally consuming was basically POISONING me.
WHAT DID I DO?
I would like to report that I immediately dropped all the major sugar from my diet and started working on eliminating the sneaky sugar – the things like bread and pasta that act like sugar but might not be immediately identified as being sugar. What actually happened was that my battle with food raged on (a battle that I’ve been fighting since I was in junior high school – a topic for another time). I found myself engaged in an all-out war with sugar, and I wasn’t well-equipped for the fight.
My battle plan? Eliminate the evil stuff. It was ALL or NOTHING.
And, as you can probably predict, that is exactly how it went – I would concentrate on not eating anything sugary and end up eating EVERYTHING that was sugar that I could get my hands on.
Every morning I would get up and vow that I wouldn’t eat anything sugary. Every night I would go to bed promising myself that tomorrow I would manage to honour my vow.
MY ACHILLES HEAL
Not all sugary delights are created equal. Like all temptations in life, some are easier to resist than others. For me, there are two culprits that are particularly tenacious in their ability to woo me with their siren songs:
- Milk chocolate (especially if it is wrapped around an almond)
At one point, I did manage to give up Coke for a whole year. What happened on day 366? I let myself have one and before long I was drinking a can or more a day.
I will be honest that I’ve NEVER managed to give up chocolate for long.
AM I WINNING THE BATTLE? Am I Living Sugar-Free?
Happily, I can report that these days I’m winning more battles than I’m losing. Why? Because I’ve changed my tactics.I'm winning more sugar battles than I'm losing because I changed my tactics! Click To Tweet
Originally, I was focused on completely eliminating sugar, because I’m pretty sure that I’m a sugar-addict (the jury is out on whether that’s a real thing or not). And everybody knows that when you are an addict there is no such thing as just one. It’s true whether it’s a beer or a chocolate covered almond – for the record, I don’t like beer and can pass it up every time. Chocolate covered almonds? Not so much.Try my 5 Sugar-Limiting Strategies to get you living sugar-free. Click To Tweet
Now, I try to stay aware of how much sugar I’m consuming, but I don’t require myself to avoid it. The following are my 5 SUGAR-LIMITING STRATEGIES to get you living sugar-free.
5 SUGAR-LIMITING STRATEGIES
Setting myself sugar-free challenges (and always tracking my sugar consumption)
- My most recent was 30 days.
- I think it works because it isn’t forever, just for a time.
- It also breaks the sugary snacking habits that creep in.
- I keep track of how many days I’ve been sugar-free even when I’m not on a challenge. It’s not to punish myself but rather to help keep me honest. It makes it easier to know when I need to step away from a sugary temptation.
- It’s an enabler for me.
- It’s not that I can’t have it. I just limit when it’s acceptable – like at restaurants – and mostly these days I avoid it all together.
- I’m trying to avoid sugary beverages as a rule.
Paying attention to whether or not I actually like the things I’m eating
- This may seem obvious, but I’ve found that there are some sugary items that I consume just because they’re part of my social construct. For example: Turns out I don’t really like cake.
- I’ve also noticed that since I’ve reduced the sugar in my diet there are many items that I used to really enjoy and crave, but now I actually find too sweet. I’m trying to be aware of them, so I can remind myself in the future. I actually have a list to make it easier to remember and not be tempted.
- A few of the items on MY LIST:
- Icing (no icing and cake aren’t the same thing)
- White chocolate
- Gummy candies
- A few of the items on MY LIST:
Making sugar reduced/sugar-free versions of things in my own home
- I’m not talking about substituting ‘natural’ sugars for white sugars or using artificial sweeteners. What I’m talking about is leaving the sugar out and using things like whole fruit or vegetables to replace the sugar.
- Most recipes have a lot more sugar than they need – especially if your taste buds start to change.
- When you use the whole fruit/vegetable the fiber and other good things help to lessen the sugar burden on your body.
- You’d be amazed how sweet carrots are.
Planning ahead for social events
- Whether I’m going to a friend’s house or to a restaurant or somewhere else entirely, I think ahead and decide what my ‘sugar policy’ is going to be for today. Have I been doing well? Or have I been engaged in a sugar free for all?
- Sometimes I take my own ‘treat’ just so that I have a back-up.
- I don’t always follow my ‘sugar policy,’ but trust me it is way easier to think about it ahead of time rather than waiting until the sugary temptation is calling to you – I liken it to figuring out the designated driver BEFORE everyone is drunk.
AND STILL THE BATTLE RAGES ON
I would love to report that with my strategies in hand, I have won the battle with sugar; that I’ve faced my inner sugar-craving demons and emerged the victor. The reality isn’t quite so simple.
I still CRAVE sugary treats. I still make deals with myself like: “I will eat a few butter tart squares tonight, but then I’ll go on a ‘sugar fast’ for two weeks.” I still indulge more than I probably should. BUT—
More times than not, I’m able to walk away from the temptation. And for the first time in my life – at least the parts that I can remember – I feel in control of my sugar consumption. It doesn’t feel so much like an addiction and more like an old friend that I’ve maybe outgrown a little bit.
I have no doubt that I will struggle with my LOVE of chocolate and all most things sugar, but for the moment, I feel good about where I’m at – even if I have to stay ever vigilant so that I don’t slide back into my days of waking up sugar drunk because I ‘over-indulged’ the night before.
Because in my opinion, without the sweet things in life, living just wouldn’t be – dare I say it?- quite so SWEET.
Do you have any strategies that you employ in your battle against the evil white stuff that I could add to my arsenal? Do you have tips for living sugar-free?
Take care and excuse me for a moment – there’s some chocolate calling my name,
UPDATE 22 Jan 18: Want some more tips and strategies for living sugar-free? Check out the following posts:
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