I've been there, I know what it feels like. My sugar cravings used to be out of control! I was a chocoholic and could easily polish off half a block of chocolate if not more in one sitting, no sweat. When I went on my health journey and changed my diet and lifestyle (before graduating as a nutritionist) I put steps in place to quit the terribly addictive and health destroying stuff. You can too! Trust me, you just have to be committed and dedicated to reaching your goals.
I've now been off sugar now for almost 5 years, I feel so incredible since removing it from my life. Don’t get me wrong, I am human and I do indulge in sugary desserts and treats now and then, but that’s what I call balance. I allow myself to indulge in whatever I want 2-3x per week. This makes me look forward to those meals or unhealthy treats even more, and once I’m finished them I actually don’t want them anymore because I enjoy the taste of real whole foods so much. Plus my energy levels, digestion, skin and mental clarity are so much better when eating healthily.
Sugar seriously is a drug. I've helped so many of my clients break their sugar addiction, helping them to restore their taste buds, boost their energy levels, lose weight and improve their overall wellness. So if I can do it, my clients can do it, you can too!
So I want to give you some tips and guidance on how to stay clean from sugar.
1) First off - you have to be ready to quit!
Like any addiction, you have got to want it! If you think you’re not ready to give up sugar, or you feel a little bit scared, then maybe you can commit in another month or two. If you don’t really want it you won’t make it a priority, and you will just spiral with getting on, and getting off it. This can be really challenging to yourself mentally. So you have to really really want it, commit to it. Ask yourself honestly “Do I really want this, am I ready, am I committed?”. If the answer if yes, then keep reading!
2) Full abstinence may be best
Quit all types of sugars. I personally went to the extent of removing all fruit from my diet for one month, along with removing dried fruits, honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup. Any form of sweetness can trick your brain into thinking it needs sweets, so for some people (such as myself) full abstinence was best. If that is too much for you, maybe keep one or two low GI fruits in your diet such as fresh berries or green apples.
Try experimenting with stevia instead for a few weeks. Stevia is a leaf that doesn’t spike your blood sugar. I often like to add a few drops into smoothies to add a natural form of sweetness. It’s also great to bake with or just add it to any drinks you like, such as hot chocolates, made using almond/rice/coconut milk and raw cacao for a delicious and comforting evening drink. Start to play around with it and see what works for you.
3) Exercise – go for a quick walk outside!
We underestimate the effects of a brisk walk, fresh air, and a dose of vitamin D can do for us. Many times, that's all you need to feel rejuvenated, energized, and ready to take on the rest of the day.
Sugar gives you a “feel good” response and that’s part of what you become addicted to. So, the key is to add in other ways to get that response instead of sugar, and exercise will do the trick, as it can increase your happy hormones. So get outside and get some fresh air for 10-15 minutes when you feel a sugar craving coming on!
4) Be present, tune into your body
Be present with your thoughts and feeling, go inside. Maybe even ask yourself: What does my body really want right now? More often than none your body is sending you another message and is trying to tell you something other than the craving, a hug, some rest (this is a big one!), a sweat session, a change of scenery, a listening ear, a break from stress, or maybe you haven't nourished yourself enough from your previous meal.
5) Increase your protein intake
Protein helps with satiety (keeping you fuller for longer) as protein takes longer to digest in the body. Protein also helps stabilize blood sugar levels which leads to more sustained energy levels and weight loss. Try incorporating one protein source with each meal. Options include: Breakfast – eggs, nuts/seeds, nut butters, protein powder, wholegrains high in protein such as buckwheat. Lunch/Dinner – organic meat, eggs, fish, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, beans, legumes, nuts/seeds.
6) Keep snacking
At least in the early stages of quitting sugar. If you've been consuming large amounts of sugar for a long time you might have some hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) issues, which is often why people get those dreaded 10am and 4pm slumps. Eat enough so you feel satisfied, and regularly enough so that you feel stable, consuming 3 main meals and 2 snacks which are high in protein and fat can help curb these cravings in the early days. For a healthy snack try my sugar free protein bliss balls.
7) Stay hydrated
Drink more water. Sometimes cravings are actually a sign of dehydration. If you feel the need to indulge try having a glass of water first, then wait 10-15 minutes.
The next time a sugar craving strikes, try one of these techniques and observe how your body and mind react. And remember to be kind to yourself! Throughout this processes remember that you are doing the best you can. Don't be so harsh on yourself if you slip up, your only human! It's a hard journey and many people out there are fighting the same battle. Just keep reminding yourself why you are doing this and keep moving forward.
If you need an extra helping hand please get in contact with me today! I’d love to help you break your sugar addiction so you can feel and look your best!
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