I have a confession to make….. my name is Michelle and I am a chocoholic. You may find this hard to believe but, trust me, I am not immune to the lure of the dark sweet stuff. Of course I kid myself that its the 70% cocoa kind so therefore its good for me. I can hear you now hoping and praying that I’m going to say “go for it, its full of antioxidants so eat away to your heart’s content”! Sorry to disappoint but , like anything in life, it’s keeping things in balance and moderation that are the key. So when my few squares a couple of times a week habit became daily and all I could think about, I knew I was in trouble and had to do something!
Anyway, enough of my confessions and this is all leading somewhere…… sugar addiction. There really should be a SAA (sugar addicts anonymous) on every street corner. Sugar addiction is real and can be just as hard to overcome as kicking any other addiction and has been likened to nicotine and cocaine addiction. So how do you know if you have a problem? For me it was when my love of chocolate went from a few squares a couple of times a week to wanting and thinking about it all day. Do you find yourself reaching for a quick pick me up in the afternoon; is your hand in the cookie jar or chugging back a soft drink to get you through? Do you suffer from any of these symptoms or problems?
- Weight gain or struggling to lose weight
- Depression, mood swings, irritability or aggression
- PMS or hormone imbalance
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic syndrome, Insulin resistance, hypoglycaemia
- Poor immune system
- Foggy brain, poor memory
- Fatigue, exhaustion
- Inflammation – often in joints
- Binge eating or always hungry
- Skin – adult acne
Kicking the habit is not for the faint hearted and, like any other addiction, there is a withdrawal period which can be hard initially but well worth the effort. The first week is the hardest and usually by the end of day one the headache will hit you hard, but this should reduce over the coming days. The next to visit you will be the cravings, oh almost enough to drive you mad but hang in there, you’ve done the hard work now.
I know it seems easier to just leave sugar in your life but trust me, the improvement in your health, energy, thought process, clear skin and the few extra kilos that will come off will be a great reward for the effort. With these great tips it should make giving up the white stuff just that little bit easier.
- Planning is everything. Remove temptation from the house. Trust me when the cravings hit the tempting foods shout very loud at you from the pantry “eat me, eat me”!
- Eat regularly, approximately every 3 hours to keep your sugar levels stable and keep hunger at bay
- Have plenty of healthy snacks ready to get you through – think veggie sticks with hummus, boiled eggs, apples, nuts, seeds, celery with almond spread, tinned fish
- Protein will help get you through by stabilising your sugar levels, so ensure you have protein at every meal and snacks (as above)
- Ditch the white carbs, they are just sugar in a fancy disguise
- Water – ensure your intake is 2 litres per day. If you currently already have this you may need to increase slightly to help keep headaches at bay
- Herbal teas can help keep you going by providing a bit of energy and satisfy a sugar craving. Green tea is a great pick me up, and peppermint is great for after meals to curb any cravings
- Ensure you eat breakfast, eggs, porridge, quinoa or a low GI oat based cereal
- Eat lots of fresh vegetables and lean protein for lunch and dinner to saturate your body with the much needed vitamins and minerals it needs during this phase
- Exercising – will help reduce cravings by releasing the feel good hormones
- Sleep – be kind to your body and give it some extra rest while it goes through the detox phase of breaking the addiction
Now we all have our own sweet poison, mine is chocolate. Yours could be the sugar you put in your tea, the cravings for the white flour carbohydrates or that afternoon dash to the cookie jar. Whatever it is, good luck on your sugar free journey. I’m on day four and the headaches are reducing but the cravings are still shouting at me!