Sugar is literally in our face any time we step into a store, restaurant, holiday celebration, or upon opening any processed food. Addictive desire for it is wired in our brain the same way cocaine is. Sugar is a leading cause of imbalanced wiring in our nervous system. How do we break the sugar habit?
As a reformed sugar addict, I am happy to share my strategies for achieving wellness in this important area. And, as a recovering sugar addict, I know, I really know, you do not want to hear any of this.
As we read this and apply it, let's be compassionately aware of the presence of our Escape Artist who may push back. We would do well to call in our Grandmother as often as needed to slow down and to choose again.
Strategies to rewire for harmony without sugar
Be aware of what sugar does to your body by reading the Insulin Resistance document below. Knowledge is power and inspires us to action.
Be aware that it takes 21 days for our taste buds to change. Decreasing the amount of sugar for three weeks, or better yet, abstaining from it altogether, will reset your perception of how sweet food actually tastes. What you thought was sweet before will turn out to be too sweet, and you will avoid it or adapt the recipe.
Often, after a salty or savoury meal we crave a sweet taste. Following are a few ways to derail this, which can be applied at any moment of the day too.
Satisfy the craving with something healthy and sweet (fresh fruit or a date.)
Alternatively, take a small amount of xylitol in your mouth and let it dissolve in your saliva. Enjoy the sugary taste for as long as you want. Spit it out when you're done. Xylitol is also wonderful for oral hygiene.
Finally, after your meal and before the craving, brush and floss right away. No one wants to do this twice in one night.
Know that when we are stressed, we crave a sweet treat because sugar is quick energy in an emergency. If you are being chased by a tiger, your body would release sugar to get to your muscles in order to protect yourself. Ask yourself if you want dessert because you're stressed. If so, promise yourself the treat after calming your nervous system, if still necessary. Some ways to calm:
take a walk
try a rewire for calm exercise in Rewire for Resilience
If you still desire treats afterwards, try to make a healthier choice.
Conscious eating. Often we are busy with other activities while eating: looking at a screen or talking to others. If you must eat something sweet, just eat it doing nothing else. Make it a meditation. Do it slowly. Think of all the people, animals and plants that conspired to get that delicious morsel to your mouth. When we are present to taste and sensation, we eat less.
A conscious sense of smell. Try to inhale the delicious aroma of the sweet treat. Our sense of smell and taste are intimately linked. Pay attention to how the food smells to you and see if that is enough to satisfy you.
Associate the sweet food with an odour or a visual that you detest. Personally, I hate the smell of olives. I would go to the olive cart at the local grocery store and inhale the smell while thinking of chocolate. Neuroplasticity, creating changes with repetition over time, allows us to develop an aversion to the target food.
When the pain becomes greater than the pleasure. Pay attention to how you feel after eating the treat rather than while you eat it. You may notice that you are tired, headachey, bloated, or grumpy. The more aware you are of how it affects your life, the more motivated you will be to give it up. Perhaps consider keeping a food-mood diary.
Research alternative baking recipes. I search websites for paleo recipes that usually call for real maple syrup. Maple syrup is less destructive because it still retains all of its minerals. I reduce the requested amount by at least half.
Ripe bananas can be your superheroes! Instead of sugar in your oatmeal add a ripe banana. Freeze ripe bananas, then toss them in the blender with frozen fruit or cacao powder for a delicious ice cream. Mash a ripe banana with cacao powder and coconut oil to make a delicious pudding. The fibre and minerals found in whole fruits reduce the impact of natural sugars on the body.
Why does your Wholeness Doula care about how much sugar you eat? In addition to all the reasons given in the document above, sugar changes the functioning of our entire nervous system. A healthy nervous system enables us to be better connected to Self, others, the world, and Something Greater.
Feel free to bring this challenge into our one-on-one sessions.