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And so the battle begins.
Christmas Day was my last day of indulgence. The holidays were a very distracting time with temptations abounding. And now it’s time to take up the battle for real.
During the holidays I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with my timing . The holidays are a very hard time to convert to clean, sugar free eating. It was simply NOT a good time to be expecting to start a revolution of healthful habits. And so I threw in the towel, vowing to fight the battle on a more fair playing field. The post-holiday one.
So here we are. On the battle front. I must equip myself with the tools of the warrior.
1. Support. The first thing I did was seek out some online support. I have leaned on local friends for support in the past, but this time I decided to join an online support group. Are you interested in finding like-minded people who are trying to lose weight? Why not try a discussion forum like Whole30 or Whole9 or Mark’sDailyApple.
2. Preparing the Battleplan. The next thing to do was decide on a food and exercise plan that was reasonable. For me “all or nothing” is what works. So, I decided to go cold turkey on diet. Which means: NO Sugar, NO Wheat, NO white carbs, very little Dairy. Lots of Vegetables, Healthy Fat, Protien, and Water. A little reading materials is always good, and a book like Intro to Paleo is a good reminder of the game plan.
3. Clearing the Path. The hardest thing to do was purge my pantry. I had to give away and throw away all of the potential temptation in my kitchen. This meant giving away nearly a kilgram of Chipits that I didn’t use up when baking Christmas gifts for my SAD (standard american diet) friends. I hadn’t used them up, but I was certainly enjoying eating them by the handful with a spoonful of peanut butter…oh the temptation.
4. Enlist a Positive Mental Attitude. I had to decide that I would be successful and believe it. This was a matter of reminding myself that I have done this before, that I WANT to do it , and that I will be feeling and looking much better in as little as 10 days.
5. Commit. The last ingredient was actually starting to follow the plan. So on Boxing Day I began.
So far I am victorious! I now have 2 full days of clean eating under my belt. I am committed to 30 days for now. By the end of today, day 3, I will be 10% of the way there. Baby steps.
My overall goal is not to do this for 30 days, but rather to resume doing it as a lifestyle. But making changes for a lifetime can seem daunting. 30 days is much more manageable. At the end of the 30 I will be in a better position to see the next 30 and the next year, and then on from there!
It’s very real. And very hard to control. Everywhere you look there is an opportunity to eat sugar. Especially this time of year.
And it’s funny how pushy people are about food. I’m not sure if you’ve ever noticed it or not, but people want you to eat with them, and they want you to eat the same kinds and amounts of things that they are eating. So, when friends are eating sweet treats, they want you to eat them too.
If someone says they are a diabetic, no one tries to make them eat the pie. If someone says they have celiac disease, no one tries to make them eat bread. If someone is lactose intolerant no one tries to push dairy on them.
But if you tell them you’re addicted to sugar, do you know what they do?
And then they say, ” just have a little bit, it will be fine.”
And it will not be fine. It will just open up the flood gates. And if you try to explain that to them, they look at you like you’ve taken a crazy pill.
“Come on, you eat sugar all the time, I’ve seen you! And you just told me that you’ve been eating it ever since Halloween, so why not just have this little brownie?”
And so, I politely declined. And then later at home, I had 3 shortbread cookies and some cookie bark. (sigh, I did some Christmas baking to give as gifts and it is still at my house.)
This is no joke. For a good amount of time I had control over my relationship with sugar.
…And then it was Halloween. And there was sugar in my house. Tiny little sweet delicious bits of sugar wrapped in attractive wrapping with things like “Wunderbar,” “Caramilk,” and “Snickers” written on them. Do I have a favorite kind of chocolate bar? No. I have about 10 favorites. Those are the top 3.
I live with 2 small people who enjoy the tradition of dressing up in costume and canvassing the neighborhood for delicious treats. And they brought in a very suitable haul this year.
These small people are not sugar addicts. How do I know this? I know because they can eat a tiny snack size chocolate bar and then stop.
If I eat chocolate, it simply wakes up the voice in my head that directs my hands to find more sugar and ingest it.
Well, now it’s December 19th. And I have not been in control of that voice since November 1st. I am sorry to report that I have tried on at least 4 occasions to break the cycle and have been unsuccessful each time.
I was able to stop eating sugar for a day or 2, but then: boom. Sugar in my mouth again.
So, I’m going to pull out all the stops now, starting by publicly admitting that I have this problem.
Can any of you make suggestions about how I can conquer this problem? Please, please offer them to me!
I fell off the wagon with clean eating. It happened around a family birthday and a vacation. There were 6 cakes in my house during 5 days, and once I got on the roller coaster of eating sugar, I lost all control and will-power. And my addiction took over.
It took a while for me to admit that I’m a sugar addict. But there’s absolutely no denying it. I have a physical addiction to sugar.
It’s been 5 days since I started trying to remove it from my diet again. Each day I start off believing that I will have a clean sugar-free day. And then something happens where the sugar demon wins the arm wrestle with my will power, and I blow it. And once I’ve blown it the arm wrestle turns into an all out slaughter where I can wind up eating marshmallows and ice cream. Seriously, this is not good.
But, I’m on to you now Sugar, and I am determined to make TODAY “Day One” of clean eating. I owe it to myself to defeat the cravings and clean up my bloodstream.
Today, things were going ok. I had breakfast (greek yogourt and berries) and I had a snack (tea with mixed nuts) and then I had some pesto tomato chicken with mozza for lunch, and now my body thinks that if it craves sugar that it can make mel go eat some of that too…after all I just ate… something… so now is a perfect time to get me to eat… SUGAR!!…my body is even pretending to be hungry, sending me all the hungry signals … but I know it’s the sugar talking, I can’t possibly be hungry. I just ate.
What a manipulative, controlling, jerk sugar is! Once I break up with it, remind me never to start another relationship with sugar again.
I will not eat sugar today! I will not eat sugar today! I will not eat sugar today…
Making the transition from sugar burning to fat burning isn’t an easy one. The carb cravings that go along with transitioning to a low-carb diet can be overwhelming. The good news is that they only take place during the transition. The faster you can get from Sugar Burner to Fat Burner the sooner the cravings will die away!
photo credit: flickr.com/istolethetv
Why do we crave sugar?
All carbohydrates essentially become sugar in our bloodstream once our digestive enzymes get their way. Starches and complex carbs are broken down to simple sugar and then they make their way into our bloodstream.
On a daily basis, most of us can perform all of our daily functions and activities on about 100-150 grams of carbohydrates. Anything above that is excess and will be stored as fat. Below about 100 grams of carbs, we will naturally begin to burn fat as fuel. For those of us who wish to trim our figures or convert to fat-burning, consuming under 100 grams of carbs is ideal. The trouble is that if we are “Sugar Burners” our bodies want more, we crave it.
Once sugar enters our blood stream, insulin is launched to eliminate it from the blood as quickly as possible. Our bodies are designed to eradicate sugar from our bloodstream and to keep blood sugar levels at the lowest functional levels possible. Over time, we create a physiological expectation that there will be sugar present in our bloodstream in regular intervals, and we’ve got the tools to remove it at the ready. When we stop providing the sugar, the cravings begin. Our bodies are ready for sugar, and we haven’t provided any. Over time, a low-carb diet will reprogram our system to become fat-adapted. The cravings will recede and appetite will normalize. But during the period of adaptation there will be a serious withdrawal period when our bodies are driving us to eat carbohydrates.
Other factors that can contribute to carbohydrate cravings include the serotonin effect that carbs can have on our mood. Eating carbohydrates can mimic the effects of serotonin and elevate our mood temporarily. The trouble is, that this effect is temporary and, in fact, deplete serotonin in the long-run making cravings worse! A better approach is to avoid carbohydrates and work to improve our body’s serotonin production and receptors.
What can we do about it?
The faster we can re-adapt our metabolism to be ketogenic or “Fat Adapted” the faster we will eliminate our cravings. For most people this can be achieved in 3 to 6 weeks.
1. Not cheating will make the cravings go away faster. Withdrawal must take its complete course and any setbacks you have along the way will only prolong your eventual success.
2. Understanding this process can help us in the short-term to mentally navigate the sugar craving demons that urge us to eat sugar and complex carbohydrates. In the long-term, being successful in the short-term will get us there one day at a time. Know that, if you don’t cheat, in about 21 days the cravings will be gone. In the short term distraction can help. Craving sugar? drink some hot water, do 3 sets of 10 push-ups, go outside for a 20-minute walk.
3. Proper diet, or supplementation of key nutrients. Low light in winter, low vitamin D, low Omega 3, Low B6, low iron, poor protein absorption and poor hormonal function can also all cause inadequate serotonin function. To assist healthy serotonin cycles we can get more natural light, use a full spectrum lamp, ensure adequate amounts of vitamins B and D,iron and Omega-3, and eat frequent small servings of protein (chewed thoroughly.) These won’t cure the problem or be a miracle solution but they will assist serotonin function and give you a leg up at battling sugar cravings while you work at becoming a Fat Burning Beast.
What is making us fat? If nothing happens “every American will be obese or overweight by 2048.” The Swedes think they have a solution for us. Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt is a leading proponent and researcher in this subject. Check out his blog The Diet Doctor, and watch his video: