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Experts still discuss whether sugar addiction is real or not. Some says that eating sugar is equivalent to taking cocaine while others say that sugar addiction is a made up diagnosis and that claimed sugar addicts just need to get their shit together!
Frankly, I don’t know the truth here! But I do know that I’ve had periods in my life where it seemed impossible for me to not eat sugar. Regardless of my rational mind and how much willpower I used for the task. I also know that I experienced withdrawal symptoms when I finally managed to go more than a day without eating sugar.
If you experience addiction-like behaviour around sugar or that eating sugar can make you happier than anything else and at the same time provide you with some of your darkest moments, let me tell you this: You’re not alone!
I’m not an expert. I’m just a person with a lot of practical experience in giving up sugar. I’ve tried so many different strategies and I’ve had so many failed attempts before I found the method that was more efficient than anything else I ever tried. You and I might not work the same way but maybe you can use some of my hard learned experiences.
The guide below gathers my best tip to get through those first days or weeks. The rules are very restrictive and they wouldn’t work as a lifestyle strategy for me. I use them purely to get rid of the sugar craving immediately. Briefly, they eliminate all foods that could potentially stimulate your urge to eating sweets until you feel strong enough to reintroduce them.
Let’s get to it!
FOOD: WHAT TO EAT AND WHEN
1. Protein and healthy fats for breakfast
My breakfast really sets the rhythm for my whole day, especially in the first days of giving up sugar. Starting the day with a protein and fat based breakfast makes a huge difference. Fry up a couple of eggs, use plenty of butter, have some meat on the side and let that be your first meal of the day. A breakfast consisting of primarily protein og fats will stabilize your blood glucose and help you resist the urge to eat sugar in the afternoon.
2. Cut the carbs
Cutting the carbs is essential to taking care of sugar cravings. My advice is to cut the carbs as low as you can for the first couple of days. All the way down to 20-30 g carbs per day, if you can. Let your meals consist of meat, eggs, veggies (choose leafy greens and kale over root vegetables), full fat cheeses and lots of healthy fats like butter, coconut oil, olive oil etc. Avoid all grain products (including pseudo grains like quinoa and amaranth) and be careful with dairy products like cream, yoghurt and sourcream. For some people those can be a trigger food.
3. Eat enough food
Push away the thought that you have to compensate for eating way too much yesterday by cutting calories today. Being in af calorie deficit creates sugar cravings from hell! Forget about yesterday! Eat all you like (in real food like meat, veggies and fats) and forget about calorie counting. Your appetite will probably be raving but after a couple of days, it will normalise. Believe me!
4. Eat plenty of healthy fats
Nothing eliminates sugar cravings and stabilizes your blood sugar like af low carb high fat diet. Add free amounts of healthy fats to your meals. Also try taking 1-2 tbsp of oil (fish oil or linseed oil) in some juice if you feel your sugar cravings are getting the best of you. Wait 15 minutes and see if the cravings are gone. It works almost every time. You can also add coconut oil to your coffee or tea instead.
5. Don’t forget you veggies
Eat plenty of veggies these first days. Your body needs all the micronutrients it can get to calm down and believe that it will be treated respectfully from now on. Consider adding a few greenies (green smoothies) but watch the fruit content.
6. Drink lots of water
I hate when people tell me to drink water to eliminate sugar cravings but I must admit that there’s some truth to it. Being dehydrated (and most of us are a lot of the time) gets the body to crave all kinds of things so take a conscious decision to drink more water already today. I promise, you’ll fell the difference. Still water works best for me (like 8 large glasses throughout the day – in between meals, not with meals) but sparkling water, herbal teas og even green or white tea are also acceptable choices.
7. No sweeteners
If you’re very sensitive to sugar, you’ll probably have to eliminate sweeteners as well. Both artificial sweeteners and so called natural sweeteners like xylitol, stevia and erythritol. Just leave them be in the first days or weeks of your sugar rehabilitation.
NON-FOOD RELATED TIPS
1. Don’t start too many new projects at once
It’s very easy to start this new life with an intention to stop eating sugar along with start running 10K per day, making 100 crunches and do yoga every day. But by taking in too many projects at a time, you risk to not succeed with any of them. Your focus should be on not eating sugar! You can lie on your couch all day long, if you please. As long as you don’t eat sugar! All your other projects can wait. Imagine of the time you’ll be given when you no longer have to think about getting your next sugar rush!
2. Move your body
However, exercising is a good idea. Not to burn off the calories but simply to move your body because it makes you feel good. Go for a long walk outside, get some fresh air, feel the sun on your skin, get some daylight and feel your serotonin and beta endorphins rise naturally.
3. Consider meditating
Many people benefit from meditation when it comes to learning to live without sugar. I’m really no expert here and I must admit that I really have some work to do here myself. In those short periods where I’ve actually managed to meditate, I’ve benefitted tremendously from doing so.
Meditation helps a lot if you usually use sugar to deal with emotions. Both good and bad. For me meditation is just sitting in silence for 10 minutes each day while focusing on my breath. In those 10 minutes I silently recognize the feelings that come to me. Feelings like anger, boredram, restlessness, joy, desperation etc. I don’t judge, I just accept that they’re there. The idea is that by learning to be with those emotions, I get better at dealing with them in my real life. And then I won’t need to eat sugar!
You need a list of distractions to do when you’re tired in the afternoon or feeling sad or whatever situation where you would normally eat sugar. I’m not a big fan of relying on willpower but in these first couple of days, you will need to activate it a bit. So get out of the kitchen, go for a walk (leave your wallet at home), take your kids to the playground, read a book, listen to music, watch your favorit series on Netflix. Just do something not related to food. Make sure you’re not craving sugar because you’re hungry. Eat a slice of ham rolled around a bite of cheese or take 1-2 tbsp of oil with some juice and an extra glass of water. Be good to yourself!
5. Be extra careful on day 3 to 5
Day 1 and 2 usually pass without great trouble and I always think that this was much easier than I expected. Then day 3 and 4 hit me and the cravings are all over me! Sugar? Where? Who said cake? Birthday anyone? Sometimes all the way to day 5. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve done day 1 to 3 only to give in on day 4. If you experience this, make sure you’re extra carefull those days. For me, starting on a Thursday has been a great help. That way, I face the most difficult days during the weekend when I’m with my family.
6. Be good to yourself and mind your thoughts
Make sure you treat yourself with respect. You ARE actually doing your best! Stop any thought that you’re fat, weak, stupid or whatever less flattening things you could be tempted to say or think about yourself. This is the sugar talking. If sugar succeeds in making you feel bad about yourself, you’ll be much easier to lure back into eating sugary stuff. If you find yourself actually consider eating sugar, postpone your action for a day or two. Tell yourself that if you still want sugar just as bad in a day, two days or whatever time is right for you, you can have it. Chances are that by then sugar has lost its grip on you.
Okay, those were my best tips! That sounds easy, right? Well, it isn’t necessarily. Sometimes it’s easier than expected and other times it takes several attempts. The problem with all these tips is that reading them won’t do the job. You actually have to follow them too! And I know that that’s easier said than done! I wish you the best of luck!
Make sure you let me know in the comments below, how you managed to get ditch the sugar!