Hi friends, how are you all?
Before I begin, let me say a big ‘THANK YOU’ to all those of you who often share their life-stories and feedback with me, after reading my posts. It is always an honored feeling when I go through your messages and your appreciation. In fact, I derive a major chunk of my motivation from that!
Last Friday’s post was about sugar addiction and how we develop it. Our brain gets addicted to sugar easily and we even have withdrawal symptoms when we try to quit. Do read the post here, if you missed it somehow.
The first step is to accept that we have a sugar-addiction or that our sugar-consumption is much higher than it should be. Check. Now what? How do I change it?
First of all, know that it’s a great decision, one that would bring better health soon enough. Not only would you feel better but look better too. It won’t be easy but trust me, it would be all worth it!
High sugar consumption has been linked to various illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, inflammation, faster aging, heart diseases and many other chronic conditions.
As I said, quitting sugar is not easy. Quitting any addiction is not easy, is it? The more you want to quit, the more cravings you would have. After all, the brain is involved and it wants sugar, one way or the other!
It is a slow journey and the severity of symptoms depends upon how much sugar you were consuming before you decided to quit.
The symptoms could last for a couple of weeks and could be quite uncomfortable/unpleasant. Apart from high cravings, let’s see what we might be dealing with once we start reducing the sugar-consumption. It could be any or many of the below:
- Mood swings
- Anxiety and depressive thoughts
- Sleep troubles
- Feeling tired and low energy
- Lack of focus and concentration
Ok, got it! I still want to quit because a few weeks’ unpleasantness is preferable to a lifetime of diabetes and other chronic disease. Can something help me to cope better while I give it my best shot?
What Can Help?
Cut all at once or cut out half first! For some, it is easier to just get up one fine morning and decide no sugar for them. For some, it is easier to cut slowly and gradually. Whatever works for you, works for you.
I, personally went slowly about it. I reduced my sugar consumption to half one day and after a while when I got comfortable with the ‘half’, I reduced it to further half. I had a sweet tooth but once I decided to cut down on sugar, I stuck to it.
I consider it a lifelong choice and if someday, I consume more sugar for whatever reason, I do not feel guilty about it. I just try to indulge in moderation and I get back to life the next day.
I think it is all about getting our priorities right and the motivation follows automatically.
Some Hacks That Would Help
Here are some tips for you, experience-based and research-based, should you decide to go slow:
- Have a glass of water when you feel a craving. The hunger cues and thirst cues are same for our body
- Analyze your cravings when they arise. Ask yourself if you really are hungry or just your brain playing tricks or because you feel tired/stressed at the moment
- Have a healthy, balanced diet overall. Focus on whole foods and vegetables which can keep you full for long
- Add fruits in your diet, as snacks
- Best way to reduce drastically is to – start with sweetened beverages. Cut out cold-drinks/sodas, mocktails, energy drinks and fruit-juices from your diet and replace these with water, flavored-water and smoothies etc
- Replace breakfast cereals with oats, eggs and use tons of veggies in whatever you cook
- Read labels before you pick up a food from the shelf. Especially if they are fat-free versions
- Try using cinnamon for a tinge of healthier sweetness to your dessert/drink
- Maybe make a trail mix with nuts and seeds and add some munnakka/large raisin in it and have that mix (as a snack) whenever you get a craving…way healthier than anything sugary for sure!
- How about tricking the brain a bit by giving it just a tiny bit of a healthier alternative e.g. a date for an ice-cream, a calcium chewie for a dessert (guilty of this one ?) or even saunf/fennel!
- And while trying to quit, stay away from artificial sweeteners as they can send wrong signals to your body and that could create more issues later
- Engage in regular exercise in whichever form you like. Not only would it keep your cravings in control but keep you mentally relaxed
Last but not the least, make sure you avoid your sugar-triggers…think about the time and situations that make you crave sugar more, notice a pattern and work on the stress that talks you into finding solace in sugary company.
Also, follow a few health bloggers on social media. They keep sharing tips of healthy eating habits and hacks to it. They also provide the much-needed motivation.
In the end, do know that it is something you need to do in order to have a healthier version of yourself and keep many chronic diseases at bay. You always have a choice till it is taken away from you.
Hope this post today and the tips in it would help you in making some necessary lifestyle changes. Do join me on Instagram for more regular stuff like this – on health, fitness and nutrition.
Till next Friday
Love, Health & Peace