Monday, November 5, 2012

Taming the sugar beast part 3

In case you missed it

tame the sugar beast part 1  taming the sugar beast part 2

                                                                     © Nvnv | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Now onto part 3 (the final in the series)

Did you do it! Did you begin the journey? How are your sugar cravings now? Did you journal? What patterns have you seen emerge?

 So many of us are like Pavlov's dog. You know the one, ring the bell, feed the dog, ring the bell, feed the dog. Ring the bell and the dog expects food. There are things in our lives that ring an internal (many times subconcious) bell that signals  "I expect food or sugar".

We have been trained by ourselves and others to crave sugar or other foods. In the food industry they are constantly working on making food cravable. If they can do that, they can hook you.

© Tund | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

How does one break the cycle?  How do we break free from this Pavlov dog syndrome?

Identifying the patterns helps us to see where the troubles are. Understanding what triggers the "sugar bell" in our head is key to the process. Maybe it is something like the smells that waft by from the bakery next to work. Maybe it is the comercials that are constantly on the television as you are winding down at the end of the day. Walking past the vending machine. Being bored, anxious or other feelings can trigger sugar cravings. Maybe you are a picker/grazer, that candy bowl at the receptionist desk is a trigger to grab a handful as you pass by. Have you identified some things that trigger sugar eating patterns?

1. Re-program the "sugar bell" in your head. reprogram your behaviors. Do you need to take a different route to work or school to avoid those traps? Dr Phil in his book Ultimate weight loss solution talks about  having to enter through the front door of his home rather than the kitchen. He would come home from work and munch his way through the kitchen. He recognized this was a problem and changed it. Do you need to avoid the receptionist desk, or kindly ask that the candy be put away from sight? It is a skill that is used to overcome many addictions. I once helped teach a stop smoking program. Discovering what triggered the thought "I need a smoke" and then addressing and changing those situations was critical to success. The same can be said in this situation. What triggers the "I need sugar" thought?  What habits do you need to change?

2. Change your reaction in those key moments.  It is only during those key moments when the sugar cravings hit, that you need to exhibit self control. You do not have to have self control 24/7, just at those critcal key moments. Overcoming can be  as easy as changing how you react to those situations. When temptation comes to your body and brain simply "Change the subject". Find something else to do. You can be experiencing a sugar craving and if you focus on it, the craving grows and grows until it overcomes you. If you ignore the cravings, and get on with something else they will usually pass. Distracting ourselves can be great tool. If we focus on something besides the craving, we can overcome it.  Write a list of things that you can do when those cravings come along. This will help in the next step.

3. Don't panic, have a plan. Having a plan for when those moments arise can make a difference. Think ahead, practice saying no to the sweet stuff. Practice how you will handle situations.As I said before in my last post, my mom's house is a real trigger for me. I have to avoid the kitchen, and bring my own healthy snacks. Plan a way to overcome those temptations before they start. If you have a list of things that you can do instead of giving into cravings it is easier. You can overcome cravings by engaging yourself in something else. I have used music in the past with good sucess. When I was feeling emotional/food cravings, I would listen to music rather than eat. Now I use blogging as one of  my distractions.

4. What is your body really telling you? In the begining I talked of adding fruit to the diet. I mentioned that your body may just be telling you that it needs real food. It is true, our bodies crave real food. I will look at the junk and my body says Nah, I want real food.Those empty foods that used to be the cravings have gone. Now I crave real hearty good foods. The sugar just does not have the appeal that it used to.

 As I have been doing this along with all of you I have discovered that I get a real lag in the afternoon. I get to where I think sugar will help me wake up. I know better than this, yet I think I am needing sugar. Really what is happening is my brain really needs a rest. I have found that a ten minute power nap can really perk me up (alot more than sugar ever did). Sugar would perk me up for a moment, but then I would crash later on. A power nap and then a good nutritous snack has made a world of difference. Is your body sending signals that it is overloaded and needs a rest, and you are interpreting it as "I need a food pick me up?"I was doing that, but now I know better.

As a final note:  Holidays are coming up!

Some hints for avoiding the holiday sugar woes. When you go to the Holiday parties this year, keep a drink of water, or other low calorie beverage in your hand to keep them full. Eat a healthy snack before you go. Avoid the food table as much as possible, and engage yourself in other activities than food. Before filling your plate at a holiday party, ask the other guests about the food. "How is the _____?"  "Is this as good as it looks?" "What is the best thing you have tried so far?" You can get a feel for what will satisfy you. You can then pick the best of the food that is offered, and then enjoy it slowly. You will be less likely to consume a bunch of mediocre food. You will be able to enjoy the bounty of the season.  If you have a holiday tradition that is overcome with sugar laden foods such as a cookie or candy exchange. Maybe you could suggest changing up that tradition. If not, use your newfound skills to avoid the traps that so many of us fall into during the holidays. Share, Share, Share, with others. You do not need to eat the whole thing. Moderation can be your best freind.


  1. I've given up processed sugar over a year ago due to food intolerances. I'm not tempted by unhealthy sugary treats. Sugar used to give me a great deal of pain, so I have a very strong negative conditioning towards sugary junk food.

    On some level though, I do still have a "sugar" addiction, and you'll never guess from what. ...Roasted veggies!!! And not just the obviously sweet ones like sweet potatoes. Eggplant, Brussels Sprouts, anything really. I roast them up at night and eat the entire pan! Weird, huh? There's probably some kind of digestive problem going again with me here cause cravings are usually not a sign of anything good.

  2. I gave up processed sugar about a year ago when I started the GAPS diet - what an amazing differnce!
    I would love to have you share this on Thursday at Tasty Traditions:

  3. Don't panic have a plan--that's the hardest thing for me. This all has been good for me to read--and bookmark.

  4. There are some wonderful tips and coping strategies in this post for anyone who is trying to reduce the amount of sugar they eat. Thank you for sharing it :)

  5. GREAT post and it has been a wonderful series, for sure! Thanks for linking it up this week.

  6. i think we crave what we eat. if i get away from sugary foods i no longer want them. if i get away from vegetables, i no longer want them. it's about choices - making the ones that are best for you and still allowing a treat now and again. great post!

    thank you for sharing your post with us at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up! I hope to see you again this week with more seasonal and fresh/real food posts :) xo, kristy

  7. I, too, have enjoyed reading your tips and suggestions. This has helped me with some coping strategies, so I thank you :) Excellent posts, all three.