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8 Simple Tips To Beat Sugar Addiction Forever

8 Simple Tips To Beat Sugar Addiction Forever

Picture this; it's evening and you and your partner have settled in on the couch to catch up on your favourite TV show. You've just had a lovely dinner, and you're feeling pleasantly full and warm. Suddenly, as the opening credits begin, the craving hits. Your body tenses up, and all you can think about is chocolate. That unopened box of Favourites in the pantry starts to call to you. You clench your fists and try to resist, but the craving is overwhelming. And then the little voice starts up in the back of your mind: "I had a really hard day today, I deserve a treat. I've been so good all week. I could just have one or two pieces". Finally you give in, and before the episode is over, you’ve eaten through half the box. You feel sick, guilty, and furious that you've done this to yourself yet again.

Sound familiar?

You're in good company. As Naturopaths we see so many people who feel out of control and addicted to sugary foods. Many of the people we see have tried to give up sugar at least once before. Most of them are frustrated and angry with themselves for not having the 'willpower' to stay away from sugar. In many cases, a few gentle tweaks to their approach makes a huge difference.

If you're having trouble giving up sugar, read on for 8 simple tips to help you beat sugar addiction for good.

1. Decide on your approach

There are many ways to approach giving up sugar. You could give it up entirely, or just reduce your intake. You could go cold turkey, or gradually wean yourself off. You could try a self-help method like David Gillespie's 'Sweet Poison Quit Plan' or Sarah Wilson's 'I Quit Sugar', or get a program tailor made for you by a Naturopath or other health professional. What you decide to do really depends on what kind of person you are. Think about the last time you gave something up or formed a new habit. What helped you? Be willing to try a few things before you find what works for you.

2. Declutter your pantry

Round up all the obvious offenders -- chocolate, lollies, cakes and muffins -- but also think about culling hidden sources of sugar, like fruit juices, pre-prepared meals, sauces, dried fruits, muesli bars and other 'healthy' bars and sweetened yoghurt. Get rid of these by donating unopened long-life items to charity, and giving the rest to a family member or friend who doesn't have sugar issues. If it's not in the house, you're less likely to be tempted, and having to brave the cold to go get chocolate may make you think twice about whether you really want it.

3. Be aware of your triggers

Sit down with a pad and paper and think through all of your sugar triggers. Do you get cravings after a bad day, after a good day, at work, or after dinner? If your cravings come after a bad day, make a list of sugar-free treats you can have instead. Perhaps a mug of delicious herbal tea, a hot shower with some fabulous smelling shower gel, or a quick shoulder rub from your partner would lift your spirits just as much as eating a chocolate bar. Write down a variety of strategies for dealing with each trigger, especially focusing on strategies that don't take too much time or effort.

4. Plan your meals

It's much easier to reach for sugar when you have no alternative. If you're out and about and you get hungry but don't have a snack on you, often a chocolate bar is the easiest and most convenient option. Planning your meals and snacks at the beginning of each day means you're never caught out without something to nibble on.

5. Crowd out the bad stuff

Instead of focusing on giving up the 'bad stuff', crowd it out with the 'good stuff'. Work on adding healthy foods and habits to your day: getting 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit per day, or making sure you get 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. Eventually you won't have enough appetite left for sugary foods, and you won't want to wreck that awesome, relaxed feeling you get after a work-out by getting sick on sugar.

6. Manage your stress

Stress can make dietary change harder. When you're stressed, your brain and body want you to stick to old patterns because they take the least amount of mental and physical energy. Don't neglect your downtime or your self-care, or you could find yourself reaching for sugar to bring that sweetness back into your life. If you're struggling with stress, your Naturopath can provide you with natural stress relief.

7. Track your progress

Mark off each day you manage to stick to your sugar goal. You could put a star in your calendar, add a coloured Post-it to your wall, or colour in a swirl map like the ones at Map Your Progress. When cravings hit, or you feel like quitting, standing in front of your Post-It wall and seeing just how many days you've managed to be sugar free will get you back on track.

8. Be kind to yourself

Many of my patients who struggle with sugar addiction come from families who rewarded successes and placated negative feelings with sugary treats. If this was the case in your family, it can be very helpful to start really rewarding your successes and acknowledging your negative feelings. For example, if you manage to avoid buying a chocolate bar, you could say to yourself "Well done for not buying that chocolate bar, you’re so good at looking after your health!” and give yourself a fist bump. It sounds cheesy, but giving yourself positive reinforcement can really help. If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up. Show yourself the same understanding you would show a friend. You can always dust yourself off and get back on track!

If you're having trouble reducing your sugar intake, and would like a tailor made plan to help you call the girls at reception to make your booking today!

Gauri Yardi, Naturopath Melbourne, specialises in stress and anxiety, digestive and skin disorders, and has experienced the detrimental effects of sugar addiction first hand! To get Gauri's help beating your sugar addiction, call 1300 21 44 25.


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