How to stay sugar free

The Everyday Life of PaleoIt’s maddening… truly. For someone like me with an addiction to refined sugar, walking through a grocery store, can be torture. Sure, I stay away from the center aisles as much as possible. And things like cereal or cookies don’t pose a threat at all. It’s easy to stay away from gluten filled foods. I know they’re bad, and I know they don’t fill me. But how do you stay away from all the other sugary treats? The chocolate and gummy bears, the m&ms and ice cream?

First, let me tell you though, why it’s virtually impossible to feel full after eating sugar. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you just ate an entire bar of chocolate, and now it’s time for dinner, and you are still able to eat a steak and broccoli without even flinching? What gives? It’s actually pretty simple. Okay, there is big science behind it… but here’s your nutshell explanation. Your body is not designed to recognize sugar as food… because it isn’t. And so, you can eat and eat and eat that smooth and silky milk chocolate, and your brain never gets the message, that your body is full, that you’ve had enough. What it does trigger is a feel good hormone, called serotonin. Thanks, sugar, I feel fantastic, and I want more of you, so I can feel more fantastic. Only… after eating all the sugar, my rationally thinking part of the brain sets in and says something like, “Are you insane? Don’t you know by now that this stuff is bad, bad, bad?” That’s when the guilt sets in, and the negative self talk… You get the drift.

Back to our steak and broccoli. These foods, filled with great nutrients, protein, and fat get digested, and after just a few bites, our brain does receive the signal from our body, that it has received food, and it can stop being hungry now. Each bite of food becomes less appealing, and finally you feel full and you stop eating. Have you ever overeaten on broccoli? I haven’t. I can’t. I love broccoli. But when I’m full I’m full, and then I don’t want even one more bite.

So, this is what happens. Also, in 2010, the average American consumed 132lbs of sugar. That’s just slightly down from over 150lbs in 1999. Fascinating, isn’t it. Can you imagine how many bars of chocolate it takes to get 132lbs of sugar? Ouch!

But how do you stay away from it? Not eating sugar is as much about willpower, as it is about stress and emotional binge eating. Here is what I do, and considering that I don’t fall off the bandwagon for some stupid reason, this actually works pretty well for me.

1) In stress situations, I find something else to do for my hands. Drink a big glass of water, sit down and knit something, read something, leave the house to go for a walk. Find a way to eliminate the stress without reaching for that chocolate.

2) Don’t buy anything with sugar. End of discussion. If it’s not in the house, you cannot eat it.

3) Sometimes, sugary things still end up in my pantry, be it by way of husband or children or a gift form a well meaning neighbor or friend. In that case, if I really want something sweet, I will opt for a spoonful of virgin coconut oil. I love the taste of it, and fat pretty quickly satisfies my craving for food.

4) Work out. I never crave sweets as much on days I work out. If you don’t like working out, again, go for a walk… run for half a mile, do some interval sprints, get your body moving, inside the house or outside. It helps!

5) Ask for help. Once you’ve admitted to yourself that you have a problem, you may want to fill that family of yours in. Ask them to be supportive of you, because it’s going to be so much easier for you, if you have the loving support of your family (or of a friend). Help them understand that this is a real addiction for you, and they will very likely be understanding and supportive of you.

6) Read labels. Seriously, sugar is hidden in just about any food item these days. Ketchup, teriyaki sauce, soup, even mustard, and mayo sometimes have some sort of sugar in their ingredients list.

7) Can you be trusted around sweets at all? If so, then make your own. I will never overdo it on paleo brownies or cookies, because I don’t want them all to disappear. For one I don’t want to be the one to have to admit that I ate it all, but I also don’t want the goodies that I made myself to disappear too quickly. To me, paleo treats are precious… and I want them to last.

Sugar is not alcohol, and it is not cigarettes. But the damage it can do to you is significant. Once you start eating a lot of refined sugar, your tolerance for it increases. That makes it easier to eat more. And research suggests, that sugar consumption cannot only lead to weight gain, but also to type 2 diabetes, depression, migraines, autoimmune disease, gout and more. So, you really are NOT doing yourself a favor indulging in it.

I hope this helps. And if it does… please share with your friends and family, too. 🙂


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