It's normal to crave sugar from time to time - but what if that craving spirals out of control? When I was a little girl, I remember scaling the counters of my mother’s kitchen as if magnetically drawn to the tin of cookies that she kept out of sight. In a way, sugar does have a sense of power over us. Like a drug, it stimulates the release of dopamine in our brains, which causes us to feel pleasure.
Like anybody else with an insatiable sweet tooth, no matter how many candy bars, scones, or scoops of ice cream I consumed over the years, the only thing that sugar has done for me (other than making me feel guilty when I eat it) is leave me craving more. It wasn’t until my physical last year, when my doctor voiced his concern about my rising weight and blood sugar, that I decided to kick my sugar addiction to the curb for good. Surprisingly, the journey to less sugar and better health wasn’t nearly as difficult as I imagined. The increased energy and overall health I gained far outweighed the loss of the sugar-laden treats I said goodbye to.
Step 1: Toss Out Your Junk Food
After receiving what I felt to be an equivalent of a D- at my physical, I researched ways that I could get rid of my sugar addiction in earnest. Time and time again, I came across recommendations to substitute empty sugary calories with nutritious whole foods. Apparently, whenever we focus on having to give something up, the task becomes that much harder.But when we shift our thinking to “What can I have?” or “What new things can I try?,we don’t feel as deprived.
First, I emptied my kitchen of every piece of junk food. If I was going to replace empty calories with nutritious food, I needed to make room for the good stuff. What's more, I wouldn’t be tempted to grab a sugary snack whenever I felt stressed, emotional, or lonely.
Step 2: Plan Out Your Groceries
Once I finished with my kitchen makeover, I browsed healthy food blogs and bookmarked a few recipes full of wholesome ingredients.When I came across blogs that offered recipes for desserts that were actually good for you, I was sold.Who knew that you can make cookie dough from nothing but fruits and nuts? I promptly put together a detailed grocery list of all the items I needed for my meals, and I vowed to stick to that list alone.
When I went grocery shopping, I filled my cart with items found along the edges of the store: meat, fruits, vegetables, and even frozen produce. I learned to avoid the middle aisles, which boast pre-packaged food full of empty carbohydrates and excess sugar.
Step 3: Substitute with Fruit
The most rewarding part about overcoming my sugar addiction was realizing that I didn’t have to give up sweet foods altogether.While I had to say goodbye to added sugar, I learned that I could still indulge in the sweetest, most delicious dessert of all – fruit. I once heard a woman say,“I always forget how good an apple tastes until it’s the only thing left in the house.” The same rang true for me.
While processed sweets fill you with empty calories, nature’s desserts are packed with nutrients.Containers of fresh fruit line the shelves of my refrigerator, already washed and easy to grab.Dried fruit, without the added sugar, are snacks that I keep in my purse and in the glove box of my car. Raisins, dried mangoes, and even prunes have become a regular part of my grab and go snack arsenal.One of my favorite “treats” when it comes to fruit is experimenting with different kinds of smoothies. The best part about consuming fruit is that you not only satisfy your sweet tooth, you feel good afterwards!
Step 4: Supplement Your Diet
Along with healthy, whole foods, I began taking a daily supplement called Chromium. The mineral has been proven to prevent blood sugar swings by regulating insulin and blood glucose levels. After reading about a study where Chromium led to reduced hunger levels and food intake, I began taking a capsule every day.
Diabetes, cancer, and weight gain are just a few of the negative side effects of consuming too much refined sugar. While the growing epidemic of excessive sugar consumption in the United States is alarming and disheartening, the good news is that there is an easy fix! With a little bit of planning, effort, and willpower, overcoming your sugar addiction is totally doable. I did it, and so can you!
About the Author
Sarah Williams is a passionate life coach, blogger and foodie. She enjoys helping people see the beauty in life and become happy again. You can read some health, relationships and dating advice from Sarah at Wingman Magazine.