Confessions Of A Sugar Addict.
“Consuming sugar produces effects similar to that of cocaine, altering mood, possibly through its ability to induce reward and pleasure, leading to the seeking out of sugar.” Rodent studies have shown that sweetness is preferred even over cocaine and that mice can experience sugar withdrawal. - Guardian
According to the Australian Diabetes Council, Australians consume on average more than 20 teaspoons of sugar daily. Not only does it make us fat, but it's also rotting our teeth, contributing to the type 2 diabetes epidemic, is highly addictive and can even lead to cancer.
I spoke to a friend of mine, Sally Piper, who has had a battle with sugar addiction most of her life. As a wife, mother and brilliant businesswoman, this obsession has affected her in many ways throughout her life.
Sally has kindly written for us her journey of sugar addiction with us, and her top 6 tips on how to kick the habit.
By Sally Piper
Are you like me and can’t wait to go to the petrol station so you can fill up your car with petrol and buy a chocolate bar at the same time? Or go to the supermarket for groceries and buy a packet of lollies that you eat on the way home? Sometimes I can’t wait for my weekly big shop so I can buy a 250-gm fruit and nut chocolate bar and eat it for lunch – yes, the whole bar. I stash the additional two bags of chocolate coated licorice I purchased in my larder (so no one can see it) for the next day or even the very same night.
I get a warm sense of excitement knowing there are chocolates, lollies or biscuits in my larder waiting for me to munch on – usually in secret so I don’t have to share and can devour them all by myself.
Last week I bought a bag of chocolates from the Post Office – I wasn’t hungry, but they were right there while in the line, so I justified the purchase by saying I was worth it. Again, that warm sense of happiness flooded through me, and I saved them for the next day at work where I ate the whole packet within half an hour at 8.30 am!
I am ashamed but not enough to stop. Being addicted to sugar is no different to being addicted to drugs, smoking cigarettes or being an alcoholic – it releases dopamine’s that make us feel fantastic and on a high, then when we get low we are on struggle street, so we get some more, and the cycle continues.
However, unlike drugs, sugar is everywhere and infiltrated into every part of our lives. Sugar not only lives in the obvious homes of sweets and chocolate but also in sauces, refined carbohydrates, processed foods, drinks and even some protein. As a society, we are continually consuming sugar, and we don’t even know it. Our bodies have adjusted to this sugar high, and we are getting fatter. I have put on 30 kilos in 18 months. Or if your metabolism is kind enough not to showcase your addiction on the outside of your body like me, your inside is taking a battering with an increased risk of diabetes, stroke and heart issues.
But it is not all doom and gloom for us sugar addicts. The good news is that sugar addiction can be conquered with a healthy mindset, sound strategies, and support from your family and friends. We don’t have to hide in the shadows eating chocolate and feeding our inner child, but the choice has to be ours and ours alone. Only a sugar addict will know when the time is right (sometimes with a little nudge from their friends).
It is not easy to beat a sugar addiction. Everyone is different, but the key is to take away the temptation whether it is because you are too full to eat your usual sugary treat, you are distracted, or you take yourself away from the source.
I am proud to say that I am on day fourteen of my no sugar journey and I am excited. My husband has admitted I was starting to look old and now I am looking healthier and younger.
My work colleagues think my face looks thinner. And after two weeks, I feel calmer, more explicit and have more energy and it’s only going to get better each step that I take.
How did I do it?
Step 1 - I needed to be ready to stop sabotaging my body.
Step 2 - I have changed my way of eating to a low carbohydrate high-fat diet which ensures I am full most of the day which has curbed the cravings (and habits) and has stabilized my blood sugars. This way of eating also encourages my body to burn ketones (fat) instead of glucose (sugar).
Step 3 - I have joined a Facebook self-help page and I am getting support from family and friends.
Top tips from a sugar addict for kicking your sugar habit
1. Throw It Out
Like a drug addict, a sugar addict is always susceptible to falling off the wagon, so you need to recognize this before you kick your habit. Make sure all your sugar hits of choice are out of the house including any hiding spots.
2. Seek Support
Ask your family and friends for support as you start your sugar detox. You may become "hangry," (hungry and angry), so be kind to yourself and let others help you. There are also many support groups online or on social media for recovering sugar addicts so do some digging and select your tools of choice to help you.
3. Stay Away
Try not to put yourself in the firing line while you are in the critical stages of detox. Stay away from people eating your favorite sugary treats or places selling your favorite sweet treats. We don’t put drugs in front of a recovering drug addict, and we shouldn’t put sugar in front of a recovering sugar addict.
4. Change Your Habits
Change your habits such as your ‘way of eating’. Be prepared with food and make it easy so that you don’t reach for sugar when there is nothing else to eat, and you are hungry. Stock up on no sugar foods such as your favorite fresh vegetables, protein, cheese, and natural yogurts. Limit your amount of fruit as it contains fructose. Fructose is better than glucose because it comes accompanied by fibre and vitamins, but can still be addictive. Nuts and seeds make a great alternative.
5. Find A Role Model
Do you know someone who eats healthy, is full of energy, and loving life? Think about how they look and feel. Think about how healthy their insides are, especially organs and blood.
6. Hang In There
If you do have a weak moment don’t give up! Try to understand what caused you to reach for sugar. Once you identify the cause, recognize it and put in place strategies so you can’t fall for that old chestnut again.
Think of Scarlett O'Hara's famous quote: "Tomorrow is another day," so dust yourself off and start again.
After the first few days of going sugar-free, you could feel tired, achy and moody but hang in there because the longer you go without sugar in your system the easier it will become.
I have been two weeks and so far, so good. It is becoming easier each day with my new mindset and eating plan.
"Sugar isn't evil, but life is so much better when you get rid of it."
Kathleen DesMaisons, PhD and bestselling author of The Sugar Addict's Total Recovery Program, Your Last Diet, Little Sugar Addicts, and Your Body Speaks.
Read about "The Hidden Ingredient Of Mass Destruction" here.
Are you addicted to sugar?
Or were you addicted to sugar? If so, what helped you?
Thank you for reading and please feel free to share. You never know who you will be helping.
Special thanks to Sally for kindly sharing her journey. Raw and real. I am sure many can relate.