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12 Steps to Beating Your Sugar Addiction

23 Aug

As anyone who is familiar with the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous knows the first step is admitting you are powerless over _______(substance of choice) and your life has become unmanageable. So I admit it, sugar is my drug and I am an addict! There, I said it! Funny thing is, I had no idea I was an addict until I tried to stop. Even funnier, you probably are too. Okay, okay, I’m not accusing you of being an addict, but if you were, it wouldn’t really be your fault. There is sneaky, hidden sugar in almost all of the foods we eat, especially pre-packaged foods we had no part in preparing ourselves. The average American consumes about four times as much sugar as the FDA deems healthy, and we sure know the FDA ain’t all that conservative when it comes to what we put in our bodies.

So why on Earth, do you ask, would I want to do something as insane and tortuous as giving up sugar? It started as a test, just to see how I would feel for a couple days without it. So two days before I went out of town I stuck to a fruits and veggies only mini-cleanse, a summer detox if you will. Then I went on vacation and ate peanut M&M’s and drank wine like the apocalypse was near. Every time my hand went into the party bag of M&M’s it felt like an out of body experience, and I just wanted more, more, MORE, damnit! I couldn’t stop until the whole bag was finished. So upon returning home, feeling slightly guilty for over indulging but ready and determined to get back to healthy eating, I figured I’d return to my diet detox and life would go on as normal.

Welcome to the 8pm sugar cravings. When the sun went down, the sugar demon came out and all hell would broke loose. Let me tell you that fresh fruit, tea, a huge glass of water…NOTHIN’ made that damn sugar demon go away.  So I got curious. Why on earth did I have such a visceral response to the removal of sugar from my diet? So I did some research and found out sugar truly IS addicting, it acts on the opioid receptors in our brain, the feel good chemicals, the same way heroin, cocaine and other drugs do. I remember a documentary I watched about Meth addiction and it said Meth boosts dopamine levels in the brain, making the user feel euphoric but then needing more and more to get the same effect. Same with sugar, my friends, and that is a huge part of the reason I want off this sugar train, damnit! I don’t want some sweet, edible substance being the cause of my temporary happiness when I know I have what it takes to be blissfully happy without it.

Plus, sugar makes us fat, cranky, diabetic, and just plain sick, sick, sick.

So here are 12 ways to get off the sugar while staying sane. And remember, relapse is a healthy part of any recovery, so if you fall off the wagon get right back on! See ya on the other side!

1. Eat protein that has a little fat. Have a healthy snack of nuts or nut butter (almond is my fav), avocado, or some seeds.

2. Do something that nourishes you in other ways: take a bath, read a book, make out with your partner, snuggle your pet, etc.

3. Don’t skip meals! If you’re hungry and you realized lunch was two hours ago, sit down and eat your lunch rather than reaching for a candy bar.

4. EXERCISE. I cannot emphasize this enough. Feeling stressed, sad, angry, etc won’t go away with ice cream but breaking a sweat at the gym or taking a yoga class will releive stress and boost feel good endorphins without the crash.

5. Eat more fatty acids. Your brain loves them. You can find these in fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, olive oil and winter squash.

6. Positive affirmations! You might be telling yourself, “I’ll never be able to give up sugar, I’ll fail, I suck the big one,” and I guarantee you’ll never succeed if you keep that crap up. So instead, try “I will do this, I am stronger than my addiction, I am perfect and whole without sugar, I am vibrant, healthy and beautiful and being so is my birthright!” Try it and watch the magic happen!

7. Smoothie time! See the recipe above for a kick-ass and delicious sugarless smoothie.

8. Go ahead, indulge. If you must eat some sugar, pick dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cacao and don’t eat the whole bar! Share it with a friend or two, or go for a mini-size option.

9. Nix the artificial sweeteners. They don’t lessen your cravings for sugar, and they are linked to cancer, obesity, and diabetes. (Right here you will see me crying because I love me some diet soda)

10. Ask for help. Many of us turn to sugar when we need comfort rather than reaching out to friends and loved ones. So instead of Ben and Jerry, call your bestie.

11. Take 1000 milligrams of Chromium Picolinate. It helps insulin work more efficiently in your body.

12. Brush, floss and gargle! This signals to your brain that eating time is over.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your sugar withdrawl. It may be a long and arduous journey, but I am here with you every step of the way. Please give feedback or comments if you have successfully or not so successfully been able to make sugar eat your dust, I’d love to hear how it went!