Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fighting Sugar Addiction

Mmmm, sugar.  Well, it's more like 'Mmmm, chocolate' in my mind.  You know that time of day that's just past morning and right before you have to hit the rest of the afternoon?  The time where you wish you could lay down for just 20 minutes and maybe eat an entire Toblerone?  I actually hit a mountain about an hour after lunch time.  When we've been rushing through errands and play groups and routines, finally eaten lunch, and my body just begs me to stop.  I get cranky.  I get tired.  And I get cravings.

I remember one afternoon I was having a rough and cranky day (I know I'm not alone here).  Pull together a healthy lunch for the kids while they bicker over a book in the other room.  Eat a small handful of chocolate chips.  Try to answer the phone and hear my own conversation as the kids spill their milk at the table and begin crying loudly.  Eat a small spoonful of nutella.  Twenty million questions begin bombarding my ears as two small hooligans begin climbing up my body.  As soon as they are distracted I reach for the jar of nutella.  My eyes grow blurry with tears as I look at my 'to do' list and see that the full sink of dirty dishes, crumbs all over the floor, and two loads of laundry aren't even on that already super long list.  Grab the jar of nutella, a spoon, and hide myself in the bathroom while I try to regain composure.  I think I should let you know I was very tired this day.  Tired means emotional in my world.

I remember at this time I truly realized I had a problem.  I was depending on that sugar to get me through the day.  I hated to admit it because I don't like knowing my body has to depend on anything other than healthy foods, air, and exercise.  I don't ever want to feel my body telling me to give it something that it really shouldn't need, and feeling myself helpless but to obey.

I know this sounds trivial, but I am addicted to sugar.  I can feel it.  And I hate it.  
I'm not talking about natural sugars found in whole foods and fruits.  I'm talking about straight up sweets.

Addiction isn't something I've had to deal much with in my life, and quite frankly I don't really know how to handle it.  I've never smoked, drank, or used any other addictive substances, so I've never had to fight much to feel like I was in control of my body.  I'm sure my dependance and love for sugar has been with me for most of my life.  I mean, I love eating, especially yummy foods.  I've never held myself back much.  But at that moment, just as I tried to imagine my life without treats and goodies throughout the day, I truly feared that I wouldn't be able to control myself.  That really bugged me.  It still drives me crazy.

Something I do know about myself, I am an 'all or nothing' type of person when it comes to refraining from sweets.  I know that I can start my day off great, but if I let myself even lick the chocolate off a spoon, it's just going to keep coming in.  So I decided to take some drastic measures.  A few things have worked, a few things haven't, and I thought I'd share the good points with you today.
Let me just say first that I don't think desserts are absolutely terrible.  A treat now and then is actually a good thing in my mind.  But living on the edge is something terribly hard for me to do, so some of these tips may seem a bit drastic.

5 Tips for Fighting Sugar

Have a buddy and hold each other to it.  I've done stints with my sisters where we get all fired up and make a pact to not eat any sort of dessert, only to reveal a week later that we each only lasted one day.  I didn't want to allow myself any room to give in and slip up.  I knew to do this that there would have to be some sort of consequence that would keep me strong.  Something that I desperately wanted to avoid.  In our case we chose a care package.  We decided that whoever breaks the rules first has to send the other a really nice package in the mail.  Something really nice and fun.  Sounds like it'd be great to be the receiver, but I just don't have the money to send something like that!  So I remind myself of this every time I feel the need to grab a caramel throughout the day.

Keep desserts out of the house.  It's a fact that it's easier to refrain from dessert if it isn't available than if it were hidden in every cupboard of your house.  We try to buy mostly healthy and whole foods at our house.  It's just easier for us all to eat healthier if those are our only options.  Sundays are an exception :)

Have something to look forward to at the end of the day.  This one might sound a little odd, but it's the way my mind works.  I've heard of people going on drastic diets and rewarding themselves with an entire chocolate cake at the end of the month.  This is not what I'm talking about.  I don't mean 'save all of your desserts until midnight'.  I mean go and find something that isn't terribly unhealthy that you can look forward to at the end of the day.  In my case it is hot chocolate.  And I share my 'healthier' version with you at the end of this post.

Decide your rules for yourself, then follow them.  In my case, I decided that my rules would include absolutely no treats except one small thing to look forward to at the end of the day.  I also allow myself a day off, because it's easy to refrain from making desserts throughout the week, but on Sundays we all get a break :)  I can say yes if I am offered a dessert at a party, but more often than not I just don't let myself head to the dessert table.  My sister has a bit of a different goal in mind, and that's fine with me.  The point is, we know deep down inside what our goals are, and if we aren't meeting those goals, a package goes in the mail!

If you mess up, try again.  Because we all stumble.  Because none of us is perfect.  But that doesn't mean we can't try again and again and again.  Because you're worth it.

It's not easy.  I feel a gigantic urge to break down every day for about a week.  It is really hard.  But I've found that after a week or so, saying 'no' isn't that bad, it's just a fact.  I let myself have something to look forward to at the end of the day because it's easier to say no to everything else that way.  I really look forward to my sweet drink before bedtime, when the kids are asleep and I can enjoy it in peace with my husband.  That thought keeps me going strong.  This is just my own thinking.  My goal isn't to completely abstain from all sugar in life.  My goal is to be in control of the sweets I consume.

Now on to that hot chocolate recipe!  It includes chocolate chips.  The only chocolate I eat the entire day.

Cocoa and Honey Hot Chocolate

Ingredients :
1 tsp baking cocoa
1 tsp honey
1 handful of chocolate chips (semi-sweet, you could use dark chips if you have them!  That would be even healthier!)
1 cup of hot water
Tiny bit of milk

Now the quantity of each of these ingredients can be changed to your own liking.  My mom loves straight up baking cocoa and hot water.  To each her own.  But I don't like an overpowering taste of cocoa or honey, so I only add in a teaspoon of each.

Add the cocoa, honey, and chocolate chips to the bottom of your mug.

This picture makes me sad ^^^ I usually use semi-sweet chocolate chips, but all we have on hand right now is white chocolate.  The darker chips have a better consistency when they melt, and aren't as sweet.  But white chocolate works when you're in a pinch.
Fill up your mug with boiling water until about 3/4" from the rim and top it off with a bit of cold milk.  That's it!  Stir it up and let the chocolate chips melt at the bottom.

My favorite part of this recipe is the melted chocolate at the bottom of the mug.  It's amazing.  It's what I look forward to at the end of the day :)

So how about you?  Is there anything that you're learning to take control over in your life?  Any tips for keeping sweets at bay?


  1. Sadly I am in the same boat as you. I have always done really well at not having sweets in the house. no, I don't eat terribly well (i'll skip meals, or substitute cereal or popcorn) but I typically don't have anything really horrible around. I have found that stress makes me want sugar. esp. chocolate. and soda. I'm finding myself buying soda (which really has no redeeming qualities). And then this last weekend Ryan was working with his dad on the house and they put several things full of cans of soda in the fridge. GRRR. I'm the one home all week! this means I have to refrain from drinking it when I know it is there! I suck at self discipline if it is in the house. I do better at leaving it outside the house, cause I rarely want to go to the store. And the thing is, sugar makes me feel more sick and stressed. I completely agree about wanting to not be beholden to anything, especially something that makes you feel and look worse (I also am finding it difficult to exercise, and a year of sitting at a computer is not helping me feel good about how I fit in clothes).

    When I was not terribly stressed, and I was doing fairly well health wise, I would drink a glass of chocolate milk once a day. The kind with the chocolate syrup you normally put on ice cream. I would even substitute it for lunch sometimes (not the healthiest, but better than skipping it all together). It actually filled me up and satisfied the sugar craving, and the milk made me feel better rather than worse. Your post has inspired me to try to get back into not having so much sugar. I could not do the whole pact with someone not to eat or else, because that doesn't work for me. I have to do it by myself or it's too much pressure and I obsess about it and give up too quickly.

    1. Isn't it hard to sit at a computer All. Day. Long? From the outside it doesn't seem like it would be that hard, but when you have to dedicate hours and hours to your computer it immediately puts children and health on the backburner. Your kids don't get your attention, so when you have time for them it's hard to make time to exercise.
      I hope they let you graduate soon Andrea. You are such a Pioneer Woman.

      mmmmm, chocolate milk.....

  2. I'm sorry you have been so stressed. I hope getting off of sugar will help you feel better and have more energy.

  3. I'm so here with you! I keep thinking I should cut down on my sugar intake, but then never do. I was forced to once and it was really hard. Our second child was incredibly sensitive to anything with caffeine or chocolate (actually, theobromine, which is in more than just chocolate, but chocolate is the main source). Since I was breastfeeding, that meant I had to cut all those things out of my diet. I had NO idea how much I depended upon those things to get me through the day. I know that my addiction to them is small compared to other types of addictions, but I went through withdrawal and intense cravings and the up and down emotional cycle for about a month. It was horrible. After about 2 months, I finally stopped craving the sugar and the stimulants. Thankfully, after a week of being off those things, I could see how much better our little baby was feeling so that was a strong encouragement to keep going.

    However, now that that little one is 21 months old and not sensitive to chocolate anymore (still reacts to caffeine somewhat), I've fallen back into depending upon them for help getting through the day. Even after breaking those bad habits for almost a year, I've let myself fall back into them. I know I function much better with less sugar and external stimulants in my system but they keep drawing me in.

    So I, too, need to once again break the cycle and control the sweets I consume rather than letting them control me. Thank you for the encouragement!

    1. You're such a trouper for sticking it out for your baby! We have never had any allergies or intolerances here... yet. One day, I see it coming. Less sugar really does help the body run more smoothly though! I really like how you mentioned the stimulants. It's like putting garbage in our system. An addictive form of it. And yet it's everywhere!

  4. All these pictures make me mouth watering - Becka, like you I'm trying to get control over my food cravings and my plan is to start a sugar detox challenge (with my husband) next Monday. I'm still kind of nervous about it because I love sweets.
    On YouTube they have some videos with some good tips. For example in "10 Tips on overcoming sugar addiction" http://youtu.be/1TE2vv0ntTY - I found that drinking more water helps me a lot to reduce my cravings.

    Wish you all the best,


  5. Coco and honey... this is brilliant!!! Meg Fee writes a lot about the harmful effects of sugar, you should check her out. I'm so 100% on board with the fact that we have saturated our diets with so much artificial and processed crap that we don't even notice --- THANK YOU for giving an alternative solution instead of just saying "don't eat it."

  6. Okay, I read the post and then the next chance I had I made some of your Cocoa Honey Hot Chocolate. It is so yummy. And you were right, the end is the best.
    Good luck with cutting out sugar. I need to work on just cutting out some foods. I feel like I get stressed and I eat whatever random thing I have around. Which isn't good because I shouldn't' turn to food when I'm stressed.



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