How I Quit Processed Sugar and So Can You… If You Want To… No Pressure ;)
I first gave up processed sugar about 2 years ago. I have eaten it a few times since then (mostly in that first year). But it has been about a full year now since I have eaten that addictive white stuff. I may have had some “accidentally” when eating out when we are traveling. But I have not gotten ice cream, or had any store bought crackers or cookies in quite some time. It was tough at first but this way of eating has become so much a part of my life that it now just comes naturally.
Sure there are times when it would be nice to go to my local Dairy Queen (my favorite ice cream chain), and pick up a blizzard. But now that I know how to make whole food desserts at home I am able to satisfy my sweet tooth whenever I want to without eating processed sugar.
I know a LOT of people who have adapted the 80/20 rule (they eat great whole foods 80 percent of the time and 20 percent of the time they don’t worry about it.) That would be more like how my husband lives. I think this is awesome and works REALLY well for many people. I on the other hand have an “all or nothing” type of personality. If I’m in, I’m all in! If I splurge and eat a piece of DQ cake, I make sure it’s worth it and eat a HUGE piece of cake. I know that’s a crazy way to be, but it’s me, and I have come to accept it. This is one of the reasons I no longer drink alcohol. But I’ll save that for another post.
Also, processed sugar is HIGHLY addictive. I find that if I stay away from it I don’t crave it. But if I give in I have a hard time getting back on the “healthy eating horse” so to speak.
So, if you are considering “quitting” processed sugar, or maybe just cutting back a bit, I will tell you how I did it. I don’t expect others to live this way, nor will I look down on you if I see you drinking pop or enjoying a candy bar…or 2. I have just personally come to enjoy eating much more without sugar in my life and many people have asked me “how do you do it?” So if you are interested in how I quit my habit read on…
How I quit sugar:
- I quit cold turkey. I ate a giant bowl of ice cream the day before I quit and didn’t look back. Do I suggest having an ice cream binge before you quit sugar? No, but I wanted my one last fling with mint chocolate chip ice cream before I said goodbye. It took me a few weeks to stop craving the sweets. I don’t remember any headaches from “withdrawals” like some people say they have but I was a bit moody from time to time (like on nights when my husband was eating ice cream and I was eating a late night snack of eggs).
- I ditched most high glycemic foods. A first I ditched a lot of sweet fruits and foods (such as honey, dates, and bananas). I wanted to truly kick my sugar habit (even overdoing natural sugars). I didn’t want to just replace my late night ice cream with a giant bowl of fruit. And while fruit would be a better choice, I would still be turning to sugar (even if it was in its natural form) for comfort. I wanted to get away from that habit.
- I gradually added back some of my favorites for special occasions. Once I was over my “addiction” to the white stuff, I gradually added back in some “treats”. To me, eating clean isn’t about deprivation. It’s about eating quality food that make me feel good. So for birthdays I made cakes with maple syrup or honey. For anniversaries I made date sweetened brownies. And guess what, I was just as satisfied with these treats as I would have been with grocery store ice cream. AND, I didn’t have that “sugar hangover” the next day.
- I try to make healthy choices when away from home (don’t go hungry). I try my best to satisfy my hunger with nutritious food when going out to eat or at a party. I try to pick a good source of protein and couple that with lots of vegetables. I often opt for fruit for my dessert in those situations if I feel like having any. But I also know that I don’t HAVE to have dessert at every party, event, or restaurant we go to. I just make sure not to “starve”. If I am satisfied I am less likely to eat junk.
- It’s not a diet! I am not on a diet. This way of eating has become my lifestyle. I can’t fall off a diet if I am not on one to begin with. When I am at a friend’s house I eat as healthy as possible without being an ungrateful guest. I tend not to worry so much about what I am eating when others are serving me. But if I am at a restaurant, I try to do the best with the choices I have. There may be some hidden sugars in a marinade, or the meat may not be grass fed. If I stress over it, I’m doing more harm than good. Most restaurants serve pretty amazing salads or will replace more veggies instead of fries.
- I still love dessert! Lastly, I love dessert! Do I need to eat it every day (or even every week)? No. But when I want a treat I just make up one of my favorites made without processed sugar and I am good to go. But if I were to indulged in some processed sugar treat for every “special occasion”…those occasions would quickly add up. As Americans we tend to find any reason to eat sweets; birthdays, anniversaries, funerals, holidays, bbqs, Saturdays… yes, in the past I have splurged because “Hey, it’s Saturday”. I do believe that sweets can be had in moderation. I just find that it’s easier for me to nix the processed sugar rather than figure out just how often “moderation” is.
Here is a list of some of my favorite sweet treats that don’t contain processed sugar (can you tell I love chocolate?)
The kids and I love making healthy treats together…
My “helpers” or should I say taste testers
My son crying because his sister licked “his chocolate” off the counter (oh the joys of having a 3 year old) 🙂
As you can see, we still enjoy goodies in our home. I just don’t use processed sugar. This is what worked for me. Like I said before, my husband follows more of an 80/20 rule. Maybe you are good at limiting your sugar consuming to truly special occasions. Or, maybe you are happy as can be with your love of sugar. I know I once was. But since kicking my sugar habit, I can’t see myself going back. I don’t need to count calories anymore and I have never felt better.
Here is a great little break down of sugars if you are looking to find a natural sweetener.