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,
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?