Does it feel like sugar controls you? Do you wish you could take it or leave it, not crave it? If so, this blog is for you.
What I see in my range of clients is 4 types of relationships with sugar. There are people who –
- Eat a lot of sugar with high concern, regret and worry about this
- Eat a lot of sugar with no concerns or worries
- Eat a little sugar with high distress about it
- Eat the right amount of sugar as part of a balanced healthy diet, with no concern about it
When I take on clients who have issues around overeating food, they are usually a 1 or a 2, but want to be a 4. This blog is to help with that.
It has been described as having a sugar devil, a monster that lives inside their body. 😈 A love/ hate relationship with this strange substance that seemingly has all this power. And to think of regaining that control seems a momentous, miserable task.
What to do? How to find that place where you feel good in your mind AND your body feels good too, about your sugar. And as we all know now, sugar is everywhere – sweet AND savoury foods. If you buy foods that have ingredients, you are quite likely to be buying sugar even without realising.
This blog isn’t about how much sugar to eat, or what sugar does to your body. This blog is about reducing your sugar intake to a point where you feel it is right for you – physically and mentally. That might be different for all of us.
By sugar I mean, in this blog, the added sugars – table sugar, honey, molasses etc. I am ignoring fruit sugars here as it can get complicated.
So here are my top 10 thoughts on making peace with sugar.
If just one of these resonates with you then I am pleased to have helped.
- Be aware of the words you use. Does this sound familiar?
‘Once I start I can’t stop’ ‘I have a sweet tooth’ ‘I need sugar when I have PMT’
If you say these to yourself or others, then you believe them. These are stories you are telling yourself, and perhaps others to reinforce the point further. Perhaps you have a reputation for how the sugary foods you eat? How about starting these sentences with the words ‘I used to be the sort of person who ……’ You might not believe this yet, but you can, if you say this frequently enough. Mind over matter.
- Acknowledge your cravings, don’t fight them. On your next sugar craving try this:
- Say to yourself, ‘I notice I am having a craving. I accept this craving in this moment, thank you mind’
- Can you feel it in your body? Put your hand there. Take a deep breath and be still for a moment. See if this helps the craving pass.
- HALT – is a great acronym for building on this when cravings strike
- H – am I hungry (thirsty) or hormonal?
- A – am I anxious (or stressed, overwhelmed)?
- L – am I lonely?
- T – am I tired, or tearful (emotional)?
When you have worked out what is really going on, then think about what YOU need right now – will sugar really help? Perhaps you need instead a hug, a cry, to move around?
- When you do eat sugar – try try try not to feel guilty about it, no beating yourself up please. Get yourself back on track with your next food choice. Having some sugar does not mean that your healthy eating is blown out of the water, it doesn’t have to mean all is lost and you might as well eat ……… try to forget and move on.
- Sugar is just sugar – reduce the power of sugar in your mind by recognising that it is a neutral food substance. It is OUR associations to sweet foods that give them the power, not the sugar itself.
- Ensure your blood sugar levels are kept as steady as possible. It is the crashes after consuming a lot of refined sweetness that lead to cravings and hunger that needs to be fed NOW. Eat enough, and often enough, to keep yourself functioning well. You can read more on blood sugars here
- Clean your teeth after eating – if you always want sweet after savoury, get out of the kitchen and head to the bathroom to clean your teeth
- Love your healthier food – make a point of buying and cooking with your favourite wholefood ingredients. Load up flavour with herbs and spices, add natural sweetness to main meals by including root veg.
- Legitimise some sugary foods – this may sound counter intuitive, it isn’t. Planning desserts occasionally and giving yourself the OK to have your favourites, without being secret about it, can be the start of a new relationship with sugar.
- Find a new hobby or activity. Might seem like nothing to do with how much sugar you eat, but think about it – did your sugar consumption go up in lockdowns? Have you corrected your social life / fun / face to face connection to others since? Starting something new, meeting people, is a great distraction at any point and ever so important now after the disconnection we all felt. Put more focus on life and less on sugar.
Sugar is part of our food world, like it or not.
To try to go without it completely is pretty much impossible, not to mention unsociable. This doesn’t make it right, but the alternative of cutting it out completely is just too hard for some. And stressing over having tiny amounts will cause more overall damage than good. Finding a way to balance the amount of sugar that is right for you, with how you feel about it, is perhaps a better way forward.