How to Give Up Sugar - My Top Tips to Beat Sugar Addiction
My Story on Why and How I Gave Up Sugar...
I have given up eating the white processed variety of sugar for over 18 months now and I can honestly say it's one of the best things I've ever done. I do still have sugar in my diet (it's almost impossible to give it up completely). But my main source of sugar is from fruit - although I am careful how much fruit I eat too.
The main reason I decided to give up sugar is that I was fed up of having fillings at the dentist - and so far I haven't had one. But there are so many other amazing benefits that have followed - including losing lots of weight and more energy (read on for a full list).
Giving up sugar was hard for me. I have loved chocolate since I was a little girl and if somebody had said to me 2 years ago, I would give up sugar I wouldn't think it possible. I went cold turkey when giving up sugar and the worse effects lasted about 2 1/2 weeks. I did feel down, irritable and honestly at times like life wasn't worth living. But I got through it with the tips below and I am so glad I did - my life is so much better!
If you're thinking about giving up sugar - I would highly recommend it. You will start seeing benefits after the first month but the longer you do it, the more you will feel the benefits. More than a year on and I honestly don't miss it now. Please read on and find my top tips on how to give up sugar.
Photo courtesty of Apolonia / FreeDigitalphotos.net
Focus on the Benefits
There are so many benefits to giving up sugar and many are completely suprising. Here are some of the benefits I noticed which you can focus on when you're in the middle of conquering the addiction:
Losing Weight - You will lose weight. I have always been quite fit and exercised but when I gave up sugar I lost at least 10 pounds without doing anything else. I am on the slim side anyway, so if you are overweight it will just drop off.
Clearer skin - I used to get spots on the sides of my cheeks. After giving up sugar these have disappeared and never come back. My skin is less greasy, a lot clearer and doesn't dry out as much either.
Increased immunity - I don't get as many colds and if I do (I have two small children that bring them home regularly!) they are a lot less severe and I get rid of them much more quickly.
Less energy fluctuations- I used to always feel like I had to lie down about 4.30 and 5pm. I think this was due to a fall in sugar levels. I don't get the same urge to just go to bed in the afternoon. My energy is a lot more even.
Teeth feel cleaner - My teeth just feel cleaner (less like their is a sugary film coating them!)
Don't Deny Yourself The Sweet Taste Completely
Use this tip with caution!
When I gave up sugar I was focused on giving up the white processed stuff. Currently I also don't eat food with artificial sweeteners. Sweeteners can be really bad for you (you can also get addicted to sweeteners!). If you can give up sugar without using sweeteners I would recommend it. However, in order to get to this stage I did do some homebaking which included using a sweetner (Truvia). As I had to homemake this was an occasional occurence but it did help me when I felt I just couldn't get past that sugar craving. Now I never bake with it - I just don't feel the need. What I do occassionally do is make cakes, desserts and pudding using fruit as a sweetener. There are lots of recipies which you can follow but my favorite is Banana and Blueberry Muffins.
As time has gone on, I feel the need to make fruit sweetened desserts less and less. I just don't crave them but for me it really helped get me through that transisiton phase. As I have said you do want to use this tip with caution. The last thing you want to do is replace your addiction with sugar to addiction to sweeteners.
Also remember fruit can have a huge sugar content so keep eat in moderation and eat plenty of vegetables as well.
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Truvia Sweetener on amazon
I have used truvia as a replacement for sugar when I was first giving up sugar in my homebaking. I don't use it anymore but if you can buy it on amazon if you want to use it while giving up.
If you are really struggling to beat that sugar carving, get up and start the blood pumping around the body. Run up and down the stairs 10 times, do 10 star jumps, or press ups. You probably don't need me to tell you, that eating sugar can make you feel good but so does doing exercise! Exercise helps the release of endorphins which is the natural high people talk about after an exercise sessions. This is good to help with any feelings of depressions you may feel when giving up sugar. I know at times I felt irritable and down when I was craving sugar and exercise helped me deal with these feelings. Read more about how exercise can help treat addiction.
Get rid of the Pschyhologial Triggers....
Another trigger for my sugar addiction is boredom. There are many other pscychological triggers when we often turn to sugar such as feeling lonely, upset or just down. Another reason for craving sugar can be force of habit. My way of relaxing in the evening was to look forward to a cup of tea and a chocolate bar while watching TV after the kids had gone to bed. When you're craving sugar, look at the reasons why. Are you looking for something to do? Is there a habit that's triggering your sugar craving. Perhaps you treat yourself with cake in the afternoon at work or a sweet dessert after dinner. When you have determined what's causing your craving it will probably make it easier to act. You could remove yourself from the situation or location. Or perhaps give yourself an alternative treat like reading a chapter from your favorite book or indulging in your favorite magazine.
Find Alternative Treats
Giving up sugar is hard. I would recommend finding alternative savory treats that you can eat when you are trying to fight the sugar craving. This is what I did. Of course try and make them as healthy as possible but don't beat yourself up if they're not super healthy while your withdrawing from sugar. The best thing you can actually do for your health is give up sugar. Do this first and the you can work on getting your diet healthier and healthier.
Never Let Yourself Get Hungry
My Top Tip
The hardest time to not give in to that sugar craving is when you are hungry. Never let yourself get hungry and it will be much easier to beat that sugar addiciton.When you're hungry your sugar levels will fall making it much harder to resist the cakes and biscuits. Even now after having giving up sugar for 18 months, the only time I really fancy chocolate or a cake is when I'm hungry.
Beware of Hidden Sugars!
We know that cakes, biscuits and chocolate are all full of sugar. However, food manufacturers are sneaky and put sugar in almost every food. They know we are more likely to buy food again if they put sugar in it. So they put in everything including things like bread. Check through your cupboards and check the sugar content of food and get rid of all those that are high in suger. Check labels in supermarkets. To be on the safe side, try and make your food from scratch as much as possible.
What You Have to Look Forward To
We have talked about the benefits of giving up sugar which are a lot to motivate and look forward to. But there's more to look forward to as well..
Discover the natural sweetness of foods - Giving up sugar doesn't mean giving up sweet tastes. Since giving up sugar I've discovered lots of foods are really sweet. Some things really surprized me (onions and mushrooms taste extremely sweet to my tastebuds, for example). Having less sugar means you can appreciate the taste of natural foods more. My taste buds have definitely adapted and changed. You'll enjoy healthier food more and it'll be easier ot eat. And the thought of eating really sugary foods actually makes me feel a bit sick.
Sense of achievement - for me, I felt a really sense of acheivement having quit sugar. It's actually given me confidence to try doing other things I never thought I'd be able to do.