I’ve seen sugar called the “legal cocaine” recently and I actually couldn’t agree more. I know this sounds extreme because everyone eats sugar and it is such a prevalent part of our lives. However, I know I experience addictive patterns and behaviors towards sugar. More so lately than I used to…it seems I just cannot shake the sweet tooth.
Every time I think I have my sugar habit under control, something happens (like my birthday) and it creeps back into my life. A slice of cake out at a birthday dinner turns into the rest of the cake the next day with my hubby, then brownies (which are served with the “works”), then chocolate cupcakes with chocolate mousse from my coworkers (SO freaking good), and then there are leftover cupcakes so I may as well eat one every day for the rest of the week. See how that happens??
My addictive sugar patterns:
- Starts out by eating a little sugar daily
- Then a lot of sugar daily
- Then one day so much sugar it kinda makes me sick and I vow to “never eat sugar again” or “drastically reduce it”
- Think about throwing out all of the junk sugar treats in the house (but keep them just in case…)
- After a few days away I think…what’s wrong with one dessert?
- Starts out by eating a little sugar daily
- Rinse and repeat
Until this past week, I had still been caught up in the sugar craze that started before my birthday – so about two weeks of out-of-control sugar cravings and giving into those cravings (I really never put up much of a fight in the first place). I’d like to think I’m one of those people who can eat anything they want without adverse side effects. But then I realize that weight gain isn’t the only bad thing that can come from a poor diet. Decreased energy levels, whacky moods, acne, and an overall crap feeling all have affect me when my diet is less than stellar.
That ain’t even the worst of it
And even though I may not gain weight, my body composition surely changes. I get puffy and bloated around my middle and feel weighed down. All of that hard work during runs, weight lifting, GLOW workouts, and core work can’t change it.
I’m not saying that I should never ever eat anything sweet again…I completely appreciate the happiness that an amazing dessert can bring. But there is a huge difference in a delicious and enjoyable indulgence that should be savored and eating sugar so often that it’s not exciting anymore and if feels like I’m just eating it to eat it.
Anyhoo the point I’m getting at is that after texting with my lovely friend we both realized we were on sugar overload and wanted to do something about it. We decided a 7 day no-added-sugar “challenge” was in order. It started Thursday, but if you want to join us we are now going until Friday so you can participate for 5 days with us (or longer if you so choose).
This isn’t a plan to cut sugar completely, I love fruit and it is part of a balanced diet. If fruit is your only source of sugar then you should not be afraid of over-eating it. I once had a trainer who told me no fruit after dinner and I said “sorry, but in the battle between ice cream and watermelon I feel pretty darn good about eating fruit at 9pm!”
The best part is that once you get sugar out of your system, fruit and all other foods will start to taste so much better!! We also decided that this was not the time to try and completely overhaul the diet. Nixing sugar is hard enough without you feeling like your diet has to be 100% perfect (by the way, there is no such thing). Just focus on avoiding sugar and junk treats and you will feel great!
The No list:
- No junk food with added sugars
- No candies
- No soda (probably no diet soda either, if possible)
- No white sugar/brown sugar
- No Chocolate (gasp!) Cocoa powder is okay, but not sugary chocolate products
- No sugar added products like PB with sugar or sugar loaded yogurts/cereals
Remember…just because it’s not actual sugar, doesn’t mean it isn’t chock full of it anyway…be label/ingredients smart.
The Yes List:
- Fruit…lots of fruit!! Especially the first couple of days, don’t be afraid to eat a ton of fruit to calm the sweet tooth, those cravings will eventually subside any you can decrease to a few servings of fruit a day
- Try fruit smoothies for a refreshing sweet treat
- Dried fruits with minimal sugar (dates/figs) as sweeteners
- Stevia (great in coffee or oats)
For me, a good combo of protein and fat helps keep sugar cravings at bay:
- Smoothie with almond milk, spinach, protein powder, low-glycemic fruit (like frozen berries), and ground flaxseed or coconut oil
- 1/2 english muffin with almond butter and sliced banana or strawberries
- Banana with almond butter
- Plain greek or vegan yogurt with fresh berries and ground flaxseed sprinkled on top
- Larabars (natural sugar from dates)
- Believe it or not, water is a great substitute…dehydration can make you hungry!
What do you think? Want to join us!!?
Throughout the week I will be including ideas for (processed/added) sugar-free sweet treats with my usual blog posts….keep a look out and send any ideas our way!