I have to admit, I have a love-hate relationship with sweets and struggle saying no to a vanilla cupcake with chocolate icing calling my name. Weeks ago when the World Health Organization urged people to lower their intake, it made me think about my relationship with sugar again. I’m always passing the break room at work or attending early morning meetings with giant cake muffins and amazing raspberry strudel. It is so hard to say no. I’m not a doctor, naturopath, or a dietitian. I just know what works for me. When you attend meetings all day, a muffin in the morning, cookie with my tea and a doughnut at a board meeting equals an unhealthy amount of sugar and makes my body go crazy.
I recently finished a 30 day “no sugar cleanse”. As hard as it was to complete I must admit that I feel amazing. My energy level is higher, I am sleeping better at night and my skin feels so smooth and is blemish free. Now I’m terrified of slipping back to bad habits. After giving it some thought I started to realize that most of the time I’m not savouring the sugary snack, I’m just eating it because it’s there. In order to fight this temptation I started developing strategies to build a healthier relationship with sugar.
1. Drink more water
I take my water bottle everywhere. When I’m craving a snack my new approach is to take a few sips first. Most of the time this counteracts a sudden sugary urge and it has definitely improved my complexion…. double win!! I think about how great I feel and how much better I look and this helps to fight the impulse to eat mindlessly.
2. Always carry snacks
I always carry healthy snacks in my purse so I have an option ready if I get hungry during the day. At night I will slice an apple or put some rice crackers in a container. If I’m really craving a sweet snack and a cup of water doesn’t help, I will munch on a few berries or some plain toasted almonds. This is definitely a healthier option just don’t go overboard because fruit contains lots of (natural) sugar too.
3. Break bad habits
I often find myself falling into bad habits, like eating a cookie every time I have a green tea or having dessert after dinner. Breaking these automatic patterns can reduce the amount of sugar you’re eating on a daily basis. Now I savour my green tea as a special treat instead of using it as an excuse to eat a cookie too.
4. Have a treat on a special occasion
I will always have a piece of cake or a cupcake to celebrate a friend’s birthday and I never decline a sweet treat if I’m a guest at someone’s home. I just don’t eat the whole plate of goodies. When I’m entertaining I include “mini” options like bite size cupcakes, muffins or cookies. Plus they look so much cuter on a plate compared with their ginormous cousins.
5. Don’t strive for perfection
Not eating sugar for my entire life is completely unrealistic and unattainable. I remind myself that eating a cookie here and there is definitely better than wolfing down an entire container of candy corn at one sitting (don’t ask). It’s okay to indulge occasionally, but now I treat myself when I really want something rather than eating it just because it’s there. I savour the tastes rather than just shovelling them in and I tell myself “you deserve it”. I just don’t do it every day and you know what….it seems that I enjoy an occasional treat even more this way.