There’s only one answer to that question: Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, yes I was totally addicted to sugar. And do you know what? You probably are too.
It’s so long since I started eliminating sugar from my diet that I now struggle to think back to what it was like eating a ‘normal’ amount of sugar. After all this time can I still remember the physical effect the white stuff had on my body?
Luckily in February 2016 I documented my journey in a blog but that journey had started way back in 2014. A few weeks later I wrote another blog about the surprising effects that being sugar free had on me.
But yes, I remember clearly what it was like to have sugar slow me down and make me feel like a mere shadow of my current self. I just didn’t know I was feeling substandard because I knew no other way. And I certainly didn’t know that eliminating sugar would make me feel so good!
So exactly how do I know that I was addicted? It’s so clear now that I craved something sweet all the time. And I mean ALL the time! Breakfast always ended with toast or a pastry with jam or honey. Mid morning snacks were usually biscuits. After lunch I craved chocolate. A mid afternoon snack would often be cake, or even more biscuits. And then in the evening after dinner… more of the same. Topped with sweets.
I have no doubt that a lot of my eating habits were just habits, coupled with emotional eating. But sugar truly is addictive, and I was an addict.
I totally understand the desire to eat a certain food to help relieve stress, or to treat yourself. I am sure there are well documented chemical processes that happen in our brain causing us to crave, seek, eat and feel relief. It’s probably the same as wanting and craving a glass of wine after a long day. Luckily for me I’ve now been able to break the habit of treating myself with certain foods, it just happened naturally as I gave up sugar.
I have a good example of my own emotional eating. I was 27, I’d had my first baby, she was 5 months old. I was struggling to adapt to my new life on maternity leave. We had just started a house renovation. Then my husband had a motorbike accident making him not only unable to help out with the baby and the house, but also needing to be cared for. To say I was stressed would be an understatement. To help me through, I bought a few packs of my favourite Swiss hazelnut chocolate bar, hid it and would eat 2 or 3 chunks at a time when I felt the most stressed, allowing the chocolate to melt away on my tongue leaving the crunchy hazelnut pieces to devour. I probably did this 3 times a day or more. It was my vice and it really helped me through.
If this sounds familiar to you and you think that you’re addicted to sugar or that eating it helps you get through times of stress, but you’d like to reduce the amount you eat or eliminate it from your diet altogether there’s one just piece of advice I can give to help you achieve your goal: prepare yourself mentally before trying to change your ways.
This is exactly what I did. I initially tried just 3 days without sugar, then a few weeks later a whole week. A few weeks after that I prepared myself for another week-long stint, at the end of which my husband decided to join me and give sugar free a go so I carried on and I just never really stopped. I was so ready to give it up, so mentally prepared, so up for it that it just happened. Yes I kept ‘slipping up’ over the odd ice cream or slice of cake, but after a few hours of headaches and feeling sick I’d happily revert back to sugar free living.
It’s really not necessary to eliminate sugar completely from your diet like I did. Just one spoon less a day is 365 spoons a year. One can of soda less a day is 5-7 spoons less sugar. That’s over 2500 less spoons of sugar a year. 2500!!
If you really are ready to give sugar free living a go you must truly want to do it, pick a day to begin. Remove temptation and surround yourself with healthy alternative snacks – and make sure you do snack, you’ll need it. Above all believe you can do it and you’ll be far more likely to succeed… and succeed you will.
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