I would never have thought to talk about this subject until I shared in one of my emails my history with sugar and someone asked me how I conquered my sugar addiction. Thanks, Sheryl for the suggestion.
My first thought is that I’m not a food professional, so how could I help? But sometimes it’s nice to hear a “normal” person’s history that can inspire and resonate with us.
I get asked many times how I stay in such good shape at my age. Here are my secrets because I haven’t always been healthy. Want to see me 20 pounds heavier? It’s in my journey to a healthier eating article.
Quote of the day: “Meal prepping is hard. But having hypertension and diabetes is harder. You can choose to have your hard upfront or have something harder down the line. Choose your hard.” Dr. James DiNicolantonio
Even though I’m not a medical doctor per se, I did attend the University of Colorado Health Science Center Dental School from 1988-1992. The subject of science and biology has always been an interest to me as I think the human body is an amazing machine.
Yet like any student going through medical or dental school, you only learn what the institution teaches you.
Once you graduate you are overwhelmed with how to put it to work and how to make a living. Of course, continuing education is part of your life, but you can choose what you want to learn more about.
And diet is rarely one of those things that Western medicine health professionals focus on.
What I’m trying to say is that Western medicine doctors aren’t bad, but they only know what they know. I remember my beloved doctor of 20 years poo-pooed supplements. Yet, I can tell you from personal experience how many supplements really help me.
In all reality, how could they not? Just think of how healers helped people back before pharmaceuticals.
I’ve written other articles about health and even have a tab on my site where I share healthy eating links
- Telehealth Function Medicine
- Nutrient Dense Diet
- Healthy Convenience Foods
- Anatomy of a Nutrient Smoothie
- 2 Favorite Gluten-Free Breakfast Options
Insider tip: Even if you have a doctor that you respect and like, it’s always good to have other professionals working on your health. Everyone knows different things. Just like with the rest of your body. You go to someone different for hair than your nails. Seeing a different kind of doctor can give you a different perspective. It certainly can’t hurt and your health is your best investment EVER.
My History With Sugar
To say I was addicted to sugar would be an understatement. You would think that a dentist would know better, right? But it’s how I was brought up and how my mom grew up. Desserts were part of every meal and chocolate was considered its own food group.
I remember being college-age and buying a ton of Valentine’s Day candy after the holiday when the drug store would have them half-price (my frugalness even applied to sugar). And I found it impossible to eat just one. I would binge on an entire box and feel terrible afterward, mentally and physically.
When I married Rob, we had a dessert wedding only. I made my favorite Hungarian cake called Dorbas torte, a bunch of cheesecakes, and then my mom also added to the mix by making a bunch of other sugar-laden items. There was a huge display of desserts because that was my favorite food item, and isn’t your wedding supposed to be happy?
It didn’t stop there. Many times when Rob and I would go out to eat, we would start with dessert first. It always was hard on the servers because that wasn’t how most people ordered, but I followed the motto of “Life is short, eat dessert first”.
It’s hard to really pinpoint when things changed.
I do know that our personal trainer from 15 years ago shared many healthy facts with us, which did have me starting to at least look at the ingredients in our food.
That’s when we really started to focus on making sure everything we bought did not have added sugars.
Many of the “healthy” things we buy have a ton of crap in them that makes them unhealthy. Yet they are marketed as good for you. A couple of ones you should definitely check are:
- Yogurt. Any flavored yogurt has extra sugars in it which is ridiculous. If you want it flavored, just add your own fruit to it.
- Granola. It sounds healthy, but make sure you check how many added sugars are in that item. Even when you make your own, you can reduce the amount of maple syrup or honey because you don’t need it that sweet.
- Oatmeal. This is another one that when it’s prepackaged and flavored is full of crappy ingredients.
- Protein drinks. Just because protein is good for us doesn’t mean these drinks are. Be wary of what is in them.
- Gluten-Free. Most people think that gluten-free items are better for us. Sure, if you are gluten intolerant they can be better for your digestion, but many of the items add extra sugar to make them taste better.
- Salad Dressing. With the bad oils and an incredible amount of other crap, this is something you are better off NOT buying. Just make your own or use olive oil and vinegar. You’ve seen the great flavored kinds of vinegar, right?
Moral of the story: You just HAVE to look at the ingredient list on everything before buying it. I know, I know, it takes more time, but your body is worth it.
Conquer Sugar Addiction
So the big question is how you conquer this sugar addiction that is so rampant in society. The way I see it is to do it a little at a time or cold turkey.
Insider tip: It’s not just sugars that are toxic to our bodies, chemicals are bad too. So just because something is sugar-free doesn’t make it better.
I consider the way both Rob and I conquered our sugar addiction was little by little, so I can give you our personal experience on that.
But what I’ve heard about going cold turkey is it’s like any addiction (and biologically we know that sugar IS an addiction just like alcohol or drugs) meaning it will be H.A.R.D. for a while. That may include headaches and mood changes.
If you Google how long it takes to detox, you will read anywhere between 3-21 days depending on how much sugar you usually eat in a day.
Here’s how we did it:
1–Ingredient Detectives. We had been inspecting ingredients for the last 15 years, so we didn’t have those hidden or sneaky sugars lurking in our food. Going out to eat is a whole other story, but you can only control so much.
2–Mindset. When Rob first started his naturopath program, they had a series of videos to watch about changing your mindset. And as woo-hoo as it sounds, our minds are very powerful and can make a huge difference in our lives.
If you always say, I could never give up sugar, then it will be true. You might as well set yourself up for success by changing that conversation to “I’m conquering my sugar addiction.”
3-Eat foods that give your body what it needs.
One of my favorite sayings is “The foods you eat either fight disease or feed disease.” Once you start eating the things your body really needs, it won’t crave sugar as much. This is proven now that we have glucose readers that can monitor how our body reacts to sugar and other foods.
Insider tip: Get the book Glucose Revolution or follow her on Instagram (most info is there and she has a second book coming out). It’s eye-opening. One point is you don’t have to give up ALL sugar, but learn how to eat in such a way that your body isn’t addicted to it.
Here are some of her tricks:
A. Eat food in the right order. It’s okay to have ONE dessert a day, but make it at the end of the meal.
B. Eat and then move (take a walk).
C. Snack on savory items. We eat nuts and fix guacamole almost daily.
D. Breakfast is important because it can keep your body balanced for the rest of the day.
E. Sugar is sugar. Don’t be fooled by thinking dried fruits are a fruit. They have nutrients but your body sees them as sugar. You can eat them, but limit them and eat them after your vegetable and proteins.
Same with honey and maple syrup. It might be less processed and “better” for you, but it’s still processed as sugar by your body.
4-Gut Health. Your gut health is something that Western medicine is behind on in order of importance. If you have heartburn, are overweight, or have many other issues, they might be due to inadequate bacteria in your gut. There are millions of strains so even if you take a probiotic, are you taking the right ones?
That’s where having a gut test can be hugely helpful. I got mine through my functional medicine provider Blue Coral. Set up a free 15-minute consult with her here and read about my experience.
So here’s something we did wrong and then changed.
Many times, we are hungry while we are fixing dinner. So I would grab a dried date for each of us to eat while preparing our food.
We did this for months. Yet something wasn’t right.
I’m not sure why I changed my thinking except that I know dried fruits are sugar-laden and sugar is evil. So we started munching on fennel that we bought already washed and trimmed at Trader Joe’s.
After reading The Glucose Revolution, I realized how the dates were spiking my glucose and setting me up for failure. Now we make sure to eat some vegetables during meal prep time as our appetizer.
Insider tip: Trader Joe’s has many vegetables already cut up for you that make it convenient to eat and go. Making eating healthy convenient is the way to create a successful way to conquer sugar addiction.
Other Resources for Conquered Sugar Addiction
1-Dr. James DiNicolantonio Instagram account is a great resource. Not just for weight loss but for overall health.
2-YouTube video about what happens when you quit sugar. (under 5 minutes long)
Another great documentary is The Magic Pill. If you have trouble viewing it on Amazon, Peacock is another option. Or consider buying the DVD and then sharing it with friends.
4-I share a ton of healthy snack recipes from Instagram and other channels in my emails. Make sure to sign up for them below.
You should definitely sign up for the emails below. Besides the free eBook, my email family gets personal tidbits of what’s going on in my life along with other happenings, sales, information, giveaways, extra photos, and interesting articles.
1-Don’t give up. You can do it.
2-Give yourself grace. Even reducing half the sugars in your diet is better for your body. Perfection is not obtainable.
3-Ask a friend to join you in this challenge. Having a buddy makes a difference.
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