I am one, too. (Once an addict, always an addict.) I have had a plethora of mail recently from many of you who are challenging yourselves to be sugar-free in 2010. I hope to inspire those resolutions and offer helpful tips. I have successfully been off of sugar for two years now, and realize that it is one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. Looking back, if someone told me I would be staying off of sugar this long I would have keeled over laughing. Seriously, I had a major problem. I could not get enough of it. Being sick to my stomach was basically how I felt most of the time in an effort to quell the almighty sweet tooth. Although I desperately wanted to boot out sugar in my life, I had no idea if it was possible for someone like me or what it would look like in reality. Was I going to become a weird hippie or get totally obsessive? (I love hippies)
At first I did get obsessive. Sugar was all I talked about. I bored my poor friends and family to death with all kinds of details about sugar and sugar alternatives. Many people still happily indulging in sugar just don't care.
Now that the holidaze fog has cleared and it's back to the swing of things, I thought I would re-write some pointers for how to stay strong and keep sugar at bay. Keep in mind we are up against the well-oiled sugar machine. Everywhere you look we are being bombarded with ads for junk food or the actual junk food itself. You can't stand in line anywhere (health food stores included) without being surrounded by chocolate and other sugar-laden goodies. I have noticed that even at non-food stores the registers are surrounded by a sea of candy as if to appeal to our spontaneous senses. It's a sugary freak show out there. I can't believe how much sugar is everywhere. Even though our country is faced with an obesity epidemic, heart disease as the number one killer, a national eating disorder and a growing number of children with diabetes, you can find sugar anywhere. Yet try and find a piece of fruit when you want it!
Despite all the efforts out there to appeal to our sweet teeth, we can rise above the mixed messages and eat healthy.
It's not that difficult when you make a few things habit:
- Keep healthy snacks with you AT ALL TIMES. Being broadsided by hunger pains and a sweet tooth can lead you into temptation unless you planned ahead. Take a moment to sit somewhere and enjoy the flavors of that apple or those juicy green grapes. Enjoy each of the different flavors in your little bag of mixed nuts and dried fruit.
- If you forgot your healthy goodies and are hijacked by a craving, run to the nearest available water source, preferably where you can add lemon. After a glass of water you will probably get your senses back. Sip some hot tea with honey if you have to.
- When you do your grocery shopping, Do not give yourself a limit buying healthy foods. Buy a variety of healthy foods that you know you will go to when you have a craving. Keep your pantry, fridge and freezer full of these items.
- Some of you will need to empty out your kitchen of all sugary goods. Personally, I don't have a problem seeing my husband's sugary goodies around. I fear that if I remove all his sugary goodies, when I am around sweet treats I will just lose all control. I like to know that I have control even when I'm alone. Whatever works for you.
- Decide right now what your exact goals are. To give up all refined sugar? To give up natural sweeteners, too? Know whether or not you will eat artificial sweeteners because you will find a lot of sugar-free goodies and beverages out there, full of chemicals otherwise known as: Splenda, aspartame, maltitol, saccharin, etc. Many of these sugar alternatives have dubious beginnings and unknown futures based on lack long-term human trials. And take it from me, even though ingredients like maltitol seem like a benign sugar alcohol, it can really wreak havoc on your system.
- You will have cravings. Prepare ahead of time for these and know that you can get through it. Have new, flavorful teas ready to try with a drop of honey, fruit pre-washed and prepared, healthy gum to chew on, baked goods sweetened naturally, etc. The craving will pass and you will be stronger each time you don't run to sugar.
- Offer to bring an appetizer, main dish or dessert to gatherings. Make them sugar-free, of course, and have fun experimenting with different recipes.
- Explore the giant blog-o-sphere and read what other people are doing. This has been incredibly inspiring for me. There are so many people revamping their diets and eating healthier and posting recipes.