Monday, 26 January 2015

How to Deal With Sugar Cravings

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I posted a couple of weeks ago about my experiences giving up added sugar. It wasn't pretty, as you'll probably remember. Brain fog, headaches, dreaming of Mars Bars, mood swings and endless sipping on camomile tea was about the sum of it for three days. 

But how do you get through the three days?

Well here are my tips on how to deal with going through the detox once sugar cravings attack. 

Try not to have any sugary snacks in the house
This is easy if your whole family is sugar-free. Just don't buy the sugary stuff. Then it's harder for you to get to because it's at the shops and not in your kitchen. It's not so easy though if there are chocolate bars, cakes and cookies in the cupboards or on the worktops tempting you every time you go into the kitchen. In my experience, the only thing you can do here is put them away (no cakes on the worktop, please) so that they're not on show and beckoning you over. And then stay out of the kitchen. As much as you can. 


Sounds simple but honestly, do your best not to buy this stuff if you're trying to reduce your sugar intake. 
Have lots of healthy snacks available
Ok, so herbal teas are good (as long as you don't add any sugar). A couple of dates are good too if a) it's only a couple and b) it stops you eating your child's leftover Christmas chocolate on the windowsill.  A banana will get you out of a sugar craving - or keep easily-grabbed food (like cooked meat patties, salad stuff or cooked fish) in the fridge. Go into the kitchen to get some lunch. Not to go and look around. 

Read the labels
This might be counter-intuitive, but if you've got as far as holding that chocolate covered fudge in your hand, quickly read the label. It might actually put you off. It did me. Sugar - the first ingredient. Glucose syrup? Hmm. Various oils. In my chocolate bar? Emulsifiers, E-numbers and the ever vague 'flavourings'. Doesn't look so delicious now, does it? Good. Now put it down. 

Remember that natural sugar is still sugar
Just because it's natural, rather than refined, it's still sugar. Giving up sugar does not mean pouring maple syrup all over your breakfast or dropping great big spoonfuls of honey in your tea. Although it's considered better for the body than refined stuff, too much natural sugar can cause a sugar spike too. 

Step away from the kitchen
Go for a walk in the fresh air (don't take money with you and don't walk past the corner shop). Do some yoga. Pick up the phone and chat to a friend. Also beware the usual times you'd have a snack. For me, this was at 2.30pm before I went to pick up the children from school (I used to have a cup of tea and a stack of biscuits before I left) and also last thing at night before bed, when the biscuit ritual was repeated. 

No, not even 'just one'
In the beginning, we'd go out and my husband would order some treats for himself and the children and say "Oh come on, just one won't hurt." So I ordered a wodge of Cookie Dough Cheesecake. And do you know what happened? I went home and ate chocolate, and then biscuits and then the next day it continued, until I had to stop and start the whole thing over again. Once you get through the first 3 days or so and you see a change in yourself, it's like a switch has been flipped. Unless you want to start it all over again, don't eat cheesecake like I did and flip the switch back to 'ON'. 

There's no NICE way of saying this: it will probably feel like hell and you will most likely feel rubbish for a couple of days. Bear in mind that this is normal and it's your body returning back to normal again after a sugar bombardment. What I can tell you is that for me, it was 100% worth it. My skin is clearer, any niggles and pains (presumably caused by inflammation in the body) went away, and I felt so full of energy, and happy and calm. Better than I've ever felt. Cutting back (or eliminating) sugar might feel terrible at the time, but it's just a few days. And I bet you'll feel completely different - for the better - afterwards. 

Given up sugar? How do you feel? What are your tips for seeing it through to the end? 

You might find the book A Simple Guide to the Autoimmune Protocol useful - it's a pocket-sized book with all the basics of the AIP diet and lifestyle, so it's handy if you need to look something up while you're travelling or out and about. Check it out here. 




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