Kicking the Sugar Habit — Part 1

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Let me start by making a confession.  I love sugar.  No, really.  I. love. sugar.  I would probably have married it if I had thought of it, but people frown on that sort of thing.  When I was a kid, we would go trick-or-treating (don’t write me hate mail, my parents did the best they knew at the time).  We would take pillowcases and fill them full of candy (we lived in a very populated area).  For weeks, I would binge on that candy.  Ditto for Christmas.  And Valentine’s Day.  And Easter.  When I started getting an allowance, I always spent it on books and candy.  Then I would read and binge. Binge and read.  I was always thin, so I got by with this behavior for a long time.

Fast forward a few years decades.  My ability to eat so much sugar and such a poor diet in my forties is not the same as it was in my twenties.  I would eat some brownies and feel awful 30 minutes or an hour later. I would have crazy mood swings (shh, don’t tell my family) and have a prevailing feeling of yuck.  By Christmas, I knew it was time to put an end to my love affair with sugar.

I knew I couldn’t just “eat sugar in moderation”.  If you can do that, I am totally impressed.  I also question your commitment to your sugar habit.  For me, having one cookie only made me want another one.  The second one made me want the whole plateful.  While I was pregnant with my third child, my midwife caught on to my problem and said, “Just put a bag of Hershey Kisses in your freezer and eat one a day.”  Yeah.  Right.  Obviously she had never dealt with a bone fide sugar addict.  If I knew there were Kisses in there, I would keep eating “just one more” until I polished off the whole bag.  It would take me about 10 minutes.

“Don’t buy it and you won’t have to deal with it” didn’t work either.  I bake.  I know I can whip up a sugar laden pile of lusciousness with just a handful of staple items in a matter of minutes.  And then I am going to eat it.  (They also have 24 hour stores now for those times I don’t feel like baking, but we won’t talk about that…)

So how did I stop such powerful cravings?  It wasn’t easy.  It took commitment to my goal, determination and a game plan.

First of all, I needed to know why I was doing this.  Having a clear idea of what so much sugar was doing to my body really helped me stay on track in the early days when it was the most difficult.

Some of the Effects Sugar has on the Body:
lowers the immune system response for 6 hours after consumption
contributes to obesity (it is converted into fat much more readily other foods, including starch)
increases cholesterol
can decrease human growth hormone (which helps us stay trim and youthful)
can weaken eyesight
causes a short-term sugar high, which ends in an ugly sugar crash later
causes erratic blood sugar levels
interferes with the absorption of protein
contributes to diabetes
can cause food allergies and eczema
can cause heart disease
can cause mood swings, including anxiety, difficulty concentrating, crankiness, and hyperactivity
contributes to osteoporosis
contributes to tooth decay and gum disease
can cause an overgrowth of Candida  (Yeast) — Candida thrives on sugar and can cause a host of issues
can even impair the structure of DNA

Scientific studies in 1987, 2002, 2003, and 2008 all show powerful evidence supporting an actual addictive effect on the brain.  If you think you can’t get through the day without some sugar, there may be a reason why.  I don’t like to be under the control of anything but the Lord.  I certainly don’t want a food substance dictating my day.  I needed to decide who was boss of my food intake.  And it wasn’t going to be sugar.

For the Christian, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 6:19.)  That scripture was a powerful motivator for me, because I want to be a good steward of what He has blessed me with.  When I look at the list above, I just can’t consume a lot of sugar in faith.  Now if you know me, and we are at an event, you might just see me holding a cookie.  The difference is that now, I can stop when I want to, and I very rarely consume processed sugar or white flour.

So how do you know if sugar has control of you?

You may have a sugar addiction if:
you lose control and eat more than you planned to eat
you crave something sweet and nothing will satisfy the craving until you have something sweet
if you get irritable, become fatigued or get the shakes when you don’t satisfy the craving

You can do this test:
Check the sugar content of everything you eat in a given day.  Look at the sugar in grams, but also look at the ingredients list for things like high fructose corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, and malto-dextrin.  Stop eating these foods for a day or two.  Also stop eating honey, maple syrup, and other natural sugars.  If you can’t do it without issues, then “Houston, I think we have a problem…”

I certainly had a problem.  Next time I will tell you my game plan for beating my sugar habit.

Angela

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2 Comments

  1. I'm 20 and doing humanitarian work in Africa. Loving loving LOVING your blog! Henna hair brought me here. 🙂 So, I'm on day 3 of no sugar, and I'm crying myself to sleep at night. I've gained 20 pounds this year from the kids-starving-in-africa mentality. Truthfully, sugar sweets are cheap and available everywhere even in my village, so this is hard work! There's a small market here, but no whole grains. Just…veggies…and sugar!

    I'm swearing off sugar because my spiritual life becomes dull with "sugar highs", I feel lazy and tired, and it's a severe addiction. Any recipe suggestions? Any advice?

  2. Bless your heart. I wish there was an easy way, but it takes perseverance I find it easier to kick the sugar when I have a healthy alternative, but it sounds like your choices are very limited. If fruits are available, I would suggest eating fruits when you crave sugar. Also, making sure your getting enough protein can be helpful. Try to get a balanced diet overall, because imbalances can lead to cravings. And try to find things that you enjoy doing – things that can help keep your mind off the lack of sugar. Don't beat yourself up if you cave in occasionally. Just get back up and keep trying. The healthy changes that you're making will benefit you your entire life.

    For what it's worth, I found my diet sliding this winter, so I need to follow my own advice as I get back on track. But I have already felt the benefits of a healthier diet, so I know it's worth it. Kudos to you for trying!!

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