• Day 10: Don't Call Me, Honey

    Date: 2010.03.09 | Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

    Hard to believe it’s Day 10, with just 355 days to go without candy.

    How am I doing so far? I’ve been better.

    Today I decided I just wasn’t going to make it another day without at least buying a jar of honey. They have great honey over here in France and it’s usually something I allow myself during a no candy, no-desserts regime.

    I got as far as the honey shelf at the 8 à Huit this afternoon and stopped myself. The little jars of miel called me but I resisted. I’m afraid they would point me down a slippery slope. Or maybe I’m more ambitious this time. I’d like to be as sugar-free as possible.

    I had a no-brainer revelation this week. Before I started this Year Without Candy, I’d have told you my problem is just that I have a major sweet tooth. But I’ve noticed that as long as things go smoothly during my day, I am not hounded by sugar cravings.

    I can handle normal, everyday stresses with work, friends and family as well. A big trigger for me, however, is being around someone who directs bad energy at me in a way I feel is not warranted – especially if the person is someone I think of as a friend. That sounds New-Agey but I don’t know a better way to put it.

    That happened and I was so surprised at how off my game I felt – and how much I wanted to walk into the local newsstand and buy something sweet the way an alcoholic might go hit a bar. (I didn’t.)

    Odd as it may sound, I never realized that I used/needed candy to soothe myself. Now I know. I also decided to be more careful about who I choose to spend time with. It’s about accepting your own sensitivity – to other people as well as candy.

    I stumbled across a great new sugar addiction site called First Ourselves. The title is just what I’m talking about. Karly Randolph-Pitman runs the site which has incredible resources having to do with sugar addiction.

    I especially enjoyed her Ten Steps to Control Sugar Cravings.

    So click on the above or check out the list reprinted below:

    1. Add self care. Before you attempt to eliminate anything from your life – even something negative, such as food addiction – it’s important to add to your life, so that you are operating from an overflow, not a deficit. Eliminating sugar will create a vacuum; better to fill it with something positive – self-care – than something negative – self-sabotage. Have a good book to read, to fill the hours you might have spent eating ice cream in front of the TV; take on a hobby instead of baking.

    2. Keep your blood sugar stable. Eat breakfast, eat protein with every meal or snack, eat low GI foods, and eat at regular intervals. Why? All of these things will stabilize your blood sugar, so that your moods and energy are at an even keel. Much of the time, I craved sugar because I was hungry (I was always trying to limit my eating because I was always trying to lose weight). Eat enough so that you feel satisfied, and regularly enough so that you feel stable, and you won’t crave so much junk.

    3. Treat yourself like you’re in detox. The first week of sugar abstinence is hard, when the cravings are at their most powerful. Be kind to yourself: this is not the time to tackle a large project, to implement lots of changes, or to work overtime. Why do people go to a spa when they’re detoxing? Because they need extra support. Likewise, give yourself extra support. Go to bed earlier. Take naps. Cook simple meals (and don’t make the same mistake I did: don’t cook meals for your family that have ingredients in them that you are trying not to eat. Don’t make sugar abstinence any harder than it needs to be.) Spend time in prayer and meditation. Call on others for support and encouragement.

    4. Don’t focus on weight loss. While weight loss is usually a natural consequence of giving up sugar, don’t make it your focus. It’s better to channel your energy towards one goal at a time. So put aside your weight loss goals for now and focus on getting sugar free. Then, when you’ve achieved sugar abstinence, you can work on losing the excess weight. Weight loss is the side effect of loving your body and freeing yourself from food addiction; not the focus. Furthermore, you might be delightfully surprised to see how much easier it is to lose weight when you’re not eating sugar in the first place.

    5. Know your true value. While yes, your body may be sugar sensitive, and while, yes, you may gorge on sugar, you are not defined by your behavior. You are not your addiction. While I think 12 step programs have a lot of value and support, I don’t endorse the idea of “once an addict, always an addict.” Picture yourself free from sugar. Believe that you can live a life free from sugar addiction. Focus on healing; not on the problem.

    6. Create a supportive environment. For the first month after I gave up sugar, I asked my family to hide the few sweet foods we had in the house: raisins, granola, and dark chocolate, so that I wouldn’t seek them out and eat them. I avoided certain aisles in the grocery store, movie theaters, and abstained from any baking. Later on, when I was in the habit of not eating sugar, and no longer physically craving it, I was able to be around sugar without succumbing to temptation.

    7. Be a detective. Give yourself time to experiment. Use your body as a guinea pig: what foods make you feel good? What foods make you feel bad? How did I learn that dried fruit affects me in the same way that refined sugar does? By observing my body after I ate it. How did I learn that eating tortilla chips makes me crave sugar? By observing my body. How did I learn that legumes, lean meats, and nuts satisfy my hunger and give me stable moods? By observing my body.

    8. Give up fake sugars. I know this is a tough one to follow: many women rely on Diet sodas when they’re craving something sweet. But in my experience, aspartame, Nutrasweet, Splenda, and even low carb sugar products (protein bars that are “low sugar”) don’t quell sugar cravings, but increase them. A study at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio found that a person’s risk for obesity went up a whopping 41% for each daily can of Diet soda.

    9. Just start over whenever you slip and fall. You don’t have to wait until the next morning, or succumb to the thinking that says, “I’ve blown it; I might as well have some brownies to go with it,” when you slip up and eat sugar. Giving up sugar is hard. It’s ingrained in our holidays, in our meals, in our society. Be kind to yourself when you mess up, and get right back on track. Create a positive affirmation to use: “I am resilient,” or “I am starting over,” when you make a mistake. Have some protein, make a cup of mint tea, and brush your teeth. Then remove yourself from your food source: take a walk, call a friend, go outside, go to the library. Do something to change your environment so you can switch gears.

    10. Forgive yourself. I felt terrible shame about my sugar addiction. Releasing that shame was like lifting an enormous weight off my psyche. We are all imperfect. If you have food issues, offer yourself self-acceptance. All those times you gorged on sugar? Recognize that you were doing the best you could, and that as you know better, you can do better. Sugar addiction is not a character defect; it’s a symptom of a lack of self-care skills. Most of us aren’t taught how to care for ourselves in healthy ways, which is why we seek comfort in food. The good news? Healthy self-care can be learned. It’s something you get to practice, everyday. What a gift.