The brain LOVES sugar. It gets a little high every time you eat it. For that one moment, as your body is quickly consuming those delicious donuts, you FEEL good! But then very soon after…
- Extreme cravings for more
… the consequences hit. Did you REALLY want to eat that sugary treat? The automatic part of your brain that looks for pleasure and avoids pain says yes! AND it wants more and more. It has to have more sugar next time to get the same good feeling you had this time!
However, the logical thinking part of your brain says no. No, you don’t want to feel the guilt of eating something that makes you feel crummy. No, you don’t want to feel the constant cravings and pull of sugary foods. No, you don’t want your life and mind to be ruled by the next time you can get your hands on the next sugary treat.
Do you eat too much sugar? Is it a constant pull for you? Do you find yourself craving it more and more? Most Americans do! There is a reason that the vast majority of us (over 70% on average) are obese or overweight.
(This graphic is from an awesome website The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Check it out for more detailed information.)
I have been a sugar addict for most of my life. And I’ll eat it until I’m SICK. And then I’ll eat it some more. Once I start eating sugar I can’t seem to stop myself.
I find that most everyone has tried at one point or another to eliminate sugar from their diet. And after depriving yourself for days, weeks, or months, you eventually cave and BINGE. Figuring it’s a lost cause, you give up and consider it a fail. I’ve done this a lot! I totally understand what it’s like!
Eliminating sugar may not be an easy task. However, the FEAR of what it will be like, the FEAR of failure, the FEAR of losing your emotional coping strategy, and FEAR of the unknown makes it feel even harder than it actually is.
Living in FEAR is not where you want to be! When we fear trying something new, we don’t give ourselves a chance to learn and grow! Fear and happiness CANNOT exist in the same place! An honest perspective of what it’s like to detox from sugar and some helpful tips made all the difference for me. And now that I’ve helped many people, I can tell you from experience things that will aid you in this awesome goal!
- Stop eating all added sugar. Don’t use honey, maple syrup, artificial sweeteners, stevia, agave, or any other sugar substitutes. Fruit is okay. The reward center of your brain will look for ways to supplement and get that dopamine hit it thinks it needs. It initially won’t want to give it up. But those cravings WILL PASS! So if you allow added sugar exceptions, you will sabotage yourself! Eventually you’ll be able to add things back in if you choose. But initially, allow yourself to detox and your brain to heal before that happens.
- Decide to make the change long term. Now I’m not a believer in eliminating it all together forever. That’s not livable for most people. But for now here’s what you tell your brain. ”Brain, I’m not eating any sugar today and I’m not planning on eating it tomorrow. After that, we’ll see.” Your brain won’t panic as much if it doesn’t think sugar is going to be taken away forever. Keep your brain in the present. Don’t worry about the future. Before you know it, a few weeks will have gone by and you will be fine.
- Don’t allow your brain to fantasize about sugar and your favorite sugary treats. You’ll cave if you allow yourself to be thinking about the Snickers bar or donuts or soda you wish you had. When your brain pops up a thought about sugar, acknowledge it and then think about something else. When you chose to focus on what you CAN have instead of what you can’t you’ll feel much more empowered.
- Know what withdrawal symptoms to expect and for how long to expect them. Most people have some sort of withdrawals. Headaches, low energy, fatigue, aches, irritability, brain fog, and all sorts of emotions may pop up. They are temporary. Most last only a day or two. Some may last as long as a week. But they will pass. And the rewards on the other side of the discomfort are worth it!
- Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep. Lay off the heavy exercise for a bit. Drink lots of water. Eat healthy foods. Stay away from the kitchen. Read. Have a warm bath. Take a walk. Write in a journal. Watch some TV. I know I cried a lot. A whole lot. And I felt a little angry and frustrated with myself. THAT’S OKAY! All of those are healthy coping strategies and will help you get through it! You will make it through
- Don’t allow any exceptions – at first. You will be able to add them in later, pre-planned, and be okay. (More information on that will come
- Be ready for emotions! This is where having a coach can really help. What emotions are you feeling that you’ve been stuffing or buffering with food? You’re about to find out! Journal them and write them down. Allow them to be. We will be able to work through them once you know what they are and where they came from!
If you’re looking for more help and information, let me know! I can help you work through this transition time and sort out those emotions.
What other useful tips can you share about withdrawing from sugar?