One of my co-workers once told me, “Sugar is the anti-christ.” And I would have to agree! I completely eliminated sugar from my diet when I was in my Paleo phase. For those who don’t know about paleo, the idea is to eat primarily meats and vegetables, and a little fruit. The claim is that our body basically sees processed grains the same as it sees sugar and uses it the same way as well. I was very strict on Paleo for about 60 days and I would read every label and not buy anything with sugar. I even bought a sugar-free ketchup which was also all natural and organic, and it wasn’t half bad (although my kids wouldn’t agree with me). Since then I still greatly limit my sugar consumption, but I’m not as strict and I allow myself an occasional indulgence.
I really feel that the most important thing I gained from the Paleo phase was the firsthand knowledge about the evilness of sugar. Since then I’ve read or watched things that support this claim. There was even one study done, I believe at UC Davis, where they did MRI’s on the brains of people who had just drank a sugary drink and the MRI showed that the brain’s pleasure center lights up the same for sugar or cocaine. That blows my mind! And that’s just one example of the many crazy things scientists are discovering about sugar.
So what can you do to reduce or eliminate sugar from your diet? I know this sounds crazy, but when I was strict Paleo for 60 days, I got to the point where I didn’t crave it anymore. It was like I detoxed my system of it and didn’t want it anymore. Even now when I don’t eat much sugar and I have something sweet, I really don’t enjoy it. It just tastes TOO sweet (definitely not something I thought I would ever say!)
So the first thing I recommend is you’ve got to find a way to stay motivated, so search online for articles about how bad sugar is and also read firsthand experiences of people who have eliminated sugar. The stories of how they feel are almost unbelievable. I follow a page on Facebook called Sugar is Killing Us, which is great because their reminders just pop up in my feed. Second, when you go to the grocery store, DON’T BUY IT! If it’s not in the house you can’t eat it. Avoid the inner isles and read every label. Have kids and don’t want to completely deprive them of a sweet treat once in awhile? Then buy something for them that you don’t like. I used to always buy my kids Oreos because I did not like them so I was then never tempted to eat one. Next, skip dessert, pretty much always. I know that’s a sad thought, but it really is just an extravagance that most of us really just don’t need, not for the sugar and not for the extra calories either. I usually allow myself to have cake on my birthday and then only on a handful of other holidays per year. That’s it. It’s hard to sit and watch everyone else indulge, but that’s where the mental toughness comes in. Use a mantra (see my previous post about mantras), excuse yourself for a bathroom break, or have a piece of fruit. It’s amazing how sweet and delicious fruit tastes when you aren’t eating any sugar. There are even books and programs out there that give you an exact program to follow.
I don’t know who this quote belongs to, but I love it: “Sugar? No thanks, I’m sweet enough already.”