How To Quit Sugar

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Sugar and pastry are the usual culprits for overweight. One thing is for sure – there are more sugar addicts than drug addicts around. About 90% of people I get to talk to on diets face a problem with sugar – this is the latest addiction!

I want to help you stop being a sugar addict. I used to be a sugar addict myself. When I became a student in the capital city of Sofia (back in 1994), every day I would eat a bar of chocolate, sometimes even two. I shivered with anxiety at the thought of buying a fresh bar of chocolate and I would eat it up on the way back to my flat.

It took me years to quit sugar and it happened in several stages. First, I reduced the quantity of sugar I would eat, later on I stopped buying pastry products. It was until an year or so ago that once in a while I would still eat chocolate bought from the supermarket.

My latest status, however, is like this: no sugar unless it’s home-made, unless someone offers it on a celebration or unless I pick up raw cakes from the store – all three occasions tend to happen less and less often. At the same time, I eat as much fruit as I wish.

Additional information: the nutrition plans that I prepare contain a limited quantity of fruit – up to 1 or 2 fruits per day. So clients often ask me if they can eat more fruit, like I do. My purpose though is not to lose weight but to keep fit (also, I don’t eat any bread, rice, oat flakes; I rarely take potatoes and legumes). Once you’ve become in good shape, you too will be able to eat as much fruit as you wish and substitute fruit for sugar.

Perhaps you’ve already realized that you are about to enter a serious and tough battle. You can grow addicted to sugar and if you’ve already become a sugar addict, you face a long struggle ahead of you. The abstinence is physical as well as mental.

If you are used to getting fast energy boosts from sugar, your body will be craving for fast power again. When you quit sugar, you might turn up with a 3 or 4-day headache. Some people get a headache for a whole week. Usually, after the seventh day you start to control your craving for sugar.

However, have a single bite and your you’ll excite your appetite again. Well, there are people who satisfy their craving for sugar with 2 pieces of chocolate. I will discuss this case later on.

Quitting sugar in six stages

Stage one. Sugar on certain days only. For example, you can eat sugar only on Saturdays, when the whole family get together. Alternatively, if on Fridays you work out more intensely and longer than usual, the sweet thing can be your prize. During this period you not only eat sweets on certain occasions only, but sugar is not forbidden altogether. If you feel like eating something sweet during the rest of the time, you can still have some. Usually the very thought that nothing is forbidden gives you strength. This stage can take as long as 6 months.

Stage two. This stage is like the first one, with the difference that the sweet products must be homemade. The difficult part comes from the fact that you have to find the time to prepare them, which functions as a certain limitation. Duration: 6 months.

Stage three. This stage resembles the second one, but you begin to reduce the quantity of sugar and flour in sweets. You replace them with fruit. Duration: 6 months.

Stage four. Now your hunger for sugar is under control and you should not feel any craving at all. You are happy with the fact that you cook “more healthy” versions of sweets and you eat them with consciousness and plan. Duration: 6 months.

(I don’t particularly like the word “healthy”, because it is practically meaningless. It usually denotes that someone starts thinking of their health. People who have been watching their food for years never use the word “healthy” because they always make “healthful” food choices. This means that food is always healthy and and there is no need to specify anything more).

Stage five. You can sit and watch someone eating sweet and this does not cause a sugar craze in your brain. You wonder if you yourself looked so crazy before. You are proud that you can resist the temptation. You eat sweet only if someone buys you something or if you are in a cafe. Duration: 6 months.

Stage six. The thought of sugar doesn’t cross your mind, and if it does you think of it as something which will pollute you. It seems to you like drinking water from a pond. You eat clean food, you choose your food carefully and you refuse to pollute your body as a conscious decision. This is the stage when I am particularly careful not to go nuts and develop a sugar phobia. I have no such phobia and I can eat sweets if I want to. Let me give you an example.

There was this time when I spent 3 days in my hometown and mum cooked a gluten-free cake (she used rice, almond and sesame flours instead), with apples, cinnamon, and butter. Oh, this was super yummy. I ate two thirds of the whole thing in 3 days. But I know that mummy knows what I eat and what I don’t eat and she had put a lot of effort in this cake. I wanted to make her happy and the cake was grand!!! It might have tasted this way because I hadn’t eaten any sweet for ages, but I enjoyed it a lot. But I know – this cake and this cake only. Period!

Control on the sweets

Once a week/month you can eat as much as you want and whatever sweet things you want. If possible, before the Big Eat, go ahead with a longer than usual power training. On the next morning you have to do low-intensity aerobic exercises, for more than 20 minutes.

(Low-intensity aerobics means doing exercises maintaining a steady pace, such as rope skipping and running.)

My personal experience with such a big-eat day is not good. My power drops considerably, I don’t feel well, and on the next day I usually feel a very strong hunger for sugar. But it works for some people.

If you are among those who can make do with little, you can eat some cookies or pieces of chocolate every day (this does not mean that I approve of this and that I can give you green light; it only means that I agree that we are all different and we need different approaches. Also, we stand at different stages in our development, which does not mean that some people are ahead of the others or are lagging behind).

If you are under great pressure, quitting sugar/cigarettes… will induce stress. It might not be the right moment for you, so take your time to read this piece of information and some day, when the time comes and you are not under stress try cutting or quitting sugar altogether.

The fact that you’ve tried fighting sugar once with no success should not be a reason to give up. Keep trying. You will be surprised to find out that it gets easier every time.

Additional information: a client of mine told me that during the holidays she managed to keep her nutrition plan, and then one evening she ate anything and everything she thought she wanted to. The result was diarrhea and shaking limbs. The good thing about this was that now she has a bad memory from overeating. Next time she feels like stuffing herself with sugar, she will remember how she trembled and felt bad. This is how things change – through negative memories of things delicious before. Also, her body obviously wanted to get rid of the food and so she got diarrhea.

If you’re on a diet and you happen to eat too much sugar – fine – it’s no use crying over spilt milk. After all, you are a human, not a machine. Don’t blame yourself that nothing human can be alien to you.

You have to realize that quitting sugar means a change in the way of life, and not something temporary, here today, gone tomorrow. You will make steps forward, you will make steps back – what matters is that you make steps forward more often than back.

What now seems impossible to you will make you wonder how you could have been so weak. At least that’s how I wonder.

If you have small kids (younger than 2 years old), think about it – do you want them to become Sugar addicts. I think that kids who are 2 years old and older can change hard, because they have already tasted chocolate and candies and it will be tough to explain why something so tasty can be bad for the health. If one day I have kids, I wouldn’t let them eat any sugar. At least that’s how I think today but I can imagine how difficult it is, when there are so many commercials kids can watch on TV.

By the way, don’t eat anything you see in commercials. I can’t think of a single commercial of fruit and vegetables.

Additional information: I have several ideas for kids’ nutrition but I am just a “theoretician” in the sphere so I don’t know if these ideas are applicable at all. I believe that kids should never taste sugar and pastry. They should eat when they eat, that is at meals, and not chew on something all the time.

It is a common thing to see mothers of small kids carrying a package of pretzel sticks in the prams. When the kid starts crying, they shut its mouth with sticks and crackers. I can understand that mothers are human too and they need some rest… So, what do you do when the kid whines and you don’t feel like giving it a stick?

To wrap it up: I think that food will be getting worse and worse. The world is heading in this direction. On the other hand, there is no way for me to produce all my food; I believe this is something drawing you backwards (although I have to admit I like it, and I used to help granny in the garden and on the farm, but this means literally working to provide food, which is what we actually do, just sitting in front of our PCs. But food productions is something else…). Perhaps this is why people go back to their home villages at a certain age.

Former Sugar Addict,
Rumi

P.S. Let me share with you a curious fact about the traffic on my website. On Mondays and Tuesdays the traffic on the website goes to the sky; on Wednesdays there is a slight drop and by Saturday the traffic has decreased. On Sunday it starts to grow again. My explanation for this is that following Wednesday people start thinking of parties and fun, and from Sunday on they feel guilt and a wish to lessen the effect of the weekend. You think I’m right?

13 comments

  1. Katerina 29 March, 2013 at 02:00 Reply

    Hi Rumi,
    I really like your post and I completely agree with you. I used to buy chocolate every day too. Almost a year ago, I decided to do a challenge. I spent a whole month without white sugar. I didn’t eat any white bread as well, because it usually contains sugar. It was a tough month, I admit, I had very bad cravings and low energy at first. After a week, my energy level was normal but the cravings were still there.
    When the month passed, I had a piece of cake. I was amazed that I found it too sweet. I also felt the butter and vegetable fat in the chocolate I bought. I still feel the same, chocolate doesn’t taste so good to me anymore.
    I eat fruit and berries. I also eat figs, dates, honey and this is enough for me now. I used to have a problem when other people ate sweets, I would get cravings and eat as well. A few months ago, I decided to have an early breakfast and have my last meal around 6 pm, so that I am done eating around 6:30 pm. This eliminated my cravings, so now I can calmly watch other people eat anything and not want to eat it myself. Again, the first week was hardest. After a month, I felt sick if I ate later in the evening.
    This however is my experience, I don’t think it will work for everybody. I wasn’t sure it was right for me when I tried it, but it turned out to be just what I needed 🙂

    • Rumi 29 March, 2013 at 02:13 Reply

      Katerina, thank you for sharing your experience. Actualy meal timing is not so important. If you try to have first meal after 12 pm and then have dinner at 22, you can get used to this for a week and after a month if you try an early breakfast you will get sick too. It is what you are used to what matters and you can change this habit for 1-4 weeks. The thing that matters the most is the fasting period – it is the same if you have early breakfast and stop eating after 6 pm, or having breakfast after 12 pm and stop eating after 22 🙂

      • Katerina 29 March, 2013 at 06:15 Reply

        I didn’t know this, I may try it during weekends. My cravings for sugar and white bread have always been the worst at night and it is easier for me to plan my breakfast than plan a late dinner (because of going out). Still, it is good to know that I can have a late dinner and than eat my breakfast later too, a change will do me good some times. Thanks 🙂

      • Julia 27 April, 2014 at 18:20 Reply

        Hi Rumi,
        So how long should be the “fasting period”? This is the first time I read about the concept of “fasting period” as an interval between your last meal of the night and the first meal of the morning.
        Thanks!

  2. Jacquie 29 March, 2013 at 06:26 Reply

    I bounce somewhere between the stages and have for years. I can’t seem to get away from the packaged store-bought sweets. They’re the ones that I’ve been eating since childhood so it’s hard to stay away!
    I make absolutely all my meals from scratch and try to keep a good balance and small portions but every couple of months my body will end up CRAVING fatty and sugary foods. I try to combat it by having a peanut butter and honey sandwich instead of junk food but it seems like the cycle keeps happening. It’s probably every 3-4 months that the craving will hit and it will last an entire week! I end up breaking down every time! I really, really want to be able to give up the store bought sweets all together but they keep creeping back. Part of it is I find home-making sweets to be a waste. I don’t want to make an ENTIRE batch of cookies, I just want one or two. But I have no one to share the extra cookies with so I buy some candy from the store instead. Any advice on how to stop the cycle?
    Thank you!

    • Rumi 29 March, 2013 at 09:19 Reply

      Jacquie, I don’ think having a sugar food once a month or so is bad. You can make a small portion of sweets too like I do. I just made very delicious browny and will post the ricipe soon. Also try to have more vegetables like salads because you have cravings for micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. Start to eat really enourmous salads – a head of lettuce, 2 red peppers, 1 avokado, 1 tomato – you need volume to feel full. Try very big salads 2 times daily for a week and let me know if you feel the difference. Thiis is a masive load of vitamins and minerals!

  3. Maria 3 April, 2013 at 22:07 Reply

    Hey Rumi I Was Wondering How Much You Took To Have A Really Nice Body!? I Wanna Lose Weight And I Would Love To Know Like How Much It Will Take Me, My Current Weight Is 15O Lbs /: Probably This is Way Off The Topic But Hopefully You Can Answer My Question (:

    • Rumi 4 April, 2013 at 01:41 Reply

      Maria, it is different for everybody. Some people lose weigth fast, other slowly, it depends on your genes, hormones, yor diet and exercise. Losing weight is easy, the gardest part is to keep it off after. Usuallu people lose 3-4-5 kilos (6-8-12 pounds) per month.

      • Maria 4 April, 2013 at 21:58 Reply

        That’s True But Hmm Do You Know If Is It Bad To Eat Just Fruits Or Around 4OO Calories A Day!? I Mean Maybe That Can Help Me &’ Then I Can Just Work Out!?

        • Rumi 5 April, 2013 at 01:20 Reply

          Maria, 400 calories per day is too low. I would not go under 1200 calories per day and this is the minimum, I usually eat app. 1600-2000.

          • Maria 5 April, 2013 at 01:23

            Yeah I Think It’s too Low. Well Thank You For Giving Me This Information (: I Bet it’s Gonna Help Me A Lot!!

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