In a world that has been bombarded with a barrage of sugary and processed food, it seems as if we have become hard wired to crave refined sugar over the alternatively more healthy foods. From the time I was a little girl, I remember scaling the counters in my mother’s kitchen as if magnetically drawn to the tin of cookies she kept hidden and out of sight. In a way, sugar does have a sense of power over us. Like a drug, it stimulates the release of dopamine in your brain which causes you to feel pleasure. Like everyone else with an insatiable sweet tooth, no matter how many candy bars, scones, or scoops of ice cream I’ve consumed over the years, the only thing that sugar has done for me (other than making me feel bad soon after I eat it) is leave me craving more. It wasn’t until my physical last year, when my doctor voiced his concern about my rising weight and blood sugar, that I decided to kick my sugar addiction to the curb for good. Surprisingly, the journey to less sugar and better health wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had imagined. The increased energy, weight loss, and overall health I gained far outweighed the loss of the sugary laden treats I said goodbye to.
After receiving what I felt to be an equivalent of a D- at my physical, I began researching ways that I could get rid of my sugar addiction in earnest. What I came across time and time again were the recommendations to substitute the empty sugary calories with nutritious whole foods. Apparently when we humans focus on having to give something up, the task becomes much harder. But when we shift our thinking to “What can I have?” or “What new things can I try?”, we don’t feel as deprived. I emptied my kitchen of every piece of junk food that it contained because if I was going to replace the empty calories with nutritious food, I needed to get the junk out of my house to make room for the good stuff and to ensure that I wouldn’t be tempted to grab it later during a weak moment for example when I felt lonely.
Once finished with my kitchen makeover, I perused many health food blogs and accumulated healthy, clean recipes. In this day and age there is no shortage of delicious, filling meals that are made entirely from nutritious ingredients. When I came across blogs that offered recipes for desserts that were actually good for you, I was sold. Who knew that you can make cookie dough from nothing but fruits and nuts? I became excited about this new journey that I was embarking upon and composed a detailed grocery list of all the items I needed for my meals each week. Even with my firm resolve to make this work, I knew that the grocery store would be one big temptation if I allowed it to be, so I made sure my list was complete and vowed not to veer away from it. I read somewhere in my research that you should be filling your cart with food items from the produce, meat and even frozen section (frozen vegetables and fruits are easy and nutritious) which are usually along the border of the store. So I learned to avoid the aisles in between which boast packaged, processed food full of empty carbohydrates and excess sugar, and now I make sure I only put the healthy, nutrition packed foods in my cart.
The most rewarding part of setting out on my journey to kick my sugar addiction, was realizing that I didn’t have to give up sweet foods altogether. While I had to say goodbye to added sugar, I learned that I could still indulge in the sweetest, most delicious dessert of all – fruit. Isn’t it funny how often when we crave something sweet, we head for the pantry or freezer when there are usually healthier options on the counter right in front of us? I once heard a woman say, “I always forget how good an apple tastes until it’s the only thing left in the house.”
While processed sweets fill you with empty calories, nature’s own dessert offers loads of nutrition with each bite. Containers of fresh fruit such as blueberries and strawberries line the shelves of my refrigerator, already washed and easy to grab. Dried fruit, without the added sugar, is a snack I keep in my purse and in the glove box of my car. Raisins, dried mango, even prunes have become a regular part of my grab and go snack arsenal. I like making sure that I always have a healthy option to turn to when I’m suddenly really hungry or craving something sweet. One of my favorite “treats” when it comes to fruit is experimenting with different kinds of smoothies. The best part about consuming fruit is that you not only satisfy your sweet tooth, you feel good afterwards!
Along with healthy, whole foods, I began taking Chromium daily. The mineral has been proven to prevent blood sugar swings by regulating insulin and blood glucose levels. After reading about a study where 42 overweight women found that supplementing with Chromium led to reduced hunger levels and food intake, I began taking a capsule every day and have been very impressed with the results.
Diabetes, cancer, and weight gain are just a few of the negative side effects of consuming too much refined sugar. While the growing epidemic of excessive sugar consumption in the United States is alarming and disheartening, the good news is that it is actually an easy fix! With a little bit of planning, effort, and willpower, you will find that overcoming your sugar addiction is totally doable. I did it, and so can you!
Sarah Williams is a passionate dating coach passionate about healthy living. She enjoys helping people see the beauty in life and become happy again. You can read some health, relationships and dating advice from Sarah at Wingman Magazine.