How To Break Your Sugar Addiction

This blog was originally published at N.E.W. Motivation Coaching in October 2019. NMC has closed and blogs are now posted here. Blog follows…

The most harmful thing about your sugar addiction is the story you tell yourself about being addicted to sugar.

Who cares if sugar is addictive or not? I say this because it’s not the type of addiction that forces you to make poor decisions that ruin your life.

This means you have more control over the addiction than it does over you. Therefore, the words you use to describe how you feel about sugar and that delicious sweet flavor are powerful. It is where you give away control over your choices (easy path because I’m addicted) or you take control of your choices (difficult path because I’m making a choice). You can read the full blog here.

Welcome to the onset of the Holiday Eating Season. Hello Halloween! I see you and your big bowl of candy is on my kitchen counter waiting (hoping!) for all the kiddos!

How to manage the big bowl of addiction sitting in your house?

We all know to buy candy we don’t like so we aren’t tempted to eat it. Which… is another argument that sugar is not addictive or you wouldn’t care what candy was in the bowl. If you can pass over a gummy candy but not a peanut butter cup, then you are in control of the impulse. It’s not an addiction.

We all know to wait until the last minute to buy the candy. The hope is that it doesn’t tempt us for so long that we eat it all before Halloween… then buy more for the trick-or-treaters.

We all know to keep candy out of sight, so we are less likely to see it and decide to eat it. The concept is to put the foods we want to choose more often in our line of sight and the ones we want to choose less often out of sight. We know they are still there; but not having them in our face can help us think about them less often.

I want share with you what I hear from many of my clients who are trying to lose – or maintain – weight over the holidays. This story may sound familiar to you.

It starts with a bowl of candy on the counter for Halloween. You tell yourself you cannot have any of that candy. And, well, you really love candy. Who doesn’t? It’s sweet and delicious.

So, what happens?

All you can think about is how you cannot have any candy. In other words, your Inner Voice keeps yelling CANDY, CANDY, CANDY to you all day long.

Listen, there is not enough will power in the world to avoid something you love 24/7 for a few days.

You hold out as long as you can before you give in to that voice. What happens? You scarf down as much candy as you can since this is your one-and-only time to eat candy. You are being “bad” so it can only happen once. You better make the most of it!

Then what happens after the candy-binge? Yep. Guilt and shame come over you like a tidal wave. You resolve to never eat candy again.

Back to square one. You just started the typical dieter’s cycle all over again.

It’s probably the worst way to approach the situation if you stop to think about it. Yet, many of us go through this starting with Halloween and ending with the New Year’s Celebrations.

Here is one of my favorite tips that you may not have heard before. It’s from the Holiday Survival Guide: How to Enjoy a Guilt-Free Holiday without Sabotaging Your Health. It is Tip 11: Eat What you Want, Just Not as Much as You Want.  

Break your sugar addiction

Eat some damn candy. Yes, go ahead. Eat some candy. Every day.

When you Inner Voice knows that you are going to allow yourself to enjoy a small piece of candy every day, it calms down. It stops yelling CANDY and it starts to relax knowing that you are not depriving yourself of something you love to eat. Even better, choose a time of day to have the candy. That way you can talk back to your Inner Voice and tell it, “I got you baby. Just wait until 4pm.”

Then you eat candy. Wait – you ENJOY the candy with no guilt or shame because this IS your plan. You are no longer being “bad.”

If weight loss is your goal, try to stick to something that is around 100 calories. In theory, that should give you an amount that satisfies your craving for something sweet without derailing your weight loss efforts or giving you too much added sugar to put your health is at risk.

What this tip does is take the power back from the food.

It shows you that your sugar addiction is really just a preference for sweet foods coupled with a habit to pick them over other types of foods.

Your personal story about addiction doesn’t even give you a chance to overcome the addiction. It lets you off the hook so you can keep making choices that, while delicious in the moment, you know are not good for your health and do not move you closer to the goals that are really more important to you.

Here is how I know that. Let me ask you: Do you want to lose weight, be healthy, reduce heart disease risk (insert your big health goal here)… or be able to eat candy?

I bet you believe your weight and health are more important. What makes this difficult is that these goals take time and patience to achieve.

You are worth making the hard choices.

And you deserve to enjoy foods you love even if they have (gasp) sugar in them.

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