Put your hand up if you’re a sweet tooth? Cakes. Pastries. Chocolate. Brownies. Cookies. Lollies… whatever it is – if it’s sweet it’s pure joy, right?
I went to France in 2010 and while other gap-year teenagers were pub crawling I was bakery crawling. Yep, from one French Patisserie to another. Others would wake up with hang-overs and I would go to sleep with a sugar-coma. I’ve always tried to keep my body free from harmful and addictive substances, but it wasn’t until I became more health conscious that I realised just how damaging to your body refined sugar is. Health professionals and scientists will tell you sugar is more addictive than cocaine. So at least stop beating yourself up for your chocolate stash, it’s hard to kick!
What was I to do? I loved sweets…of course I did! I was a sugar junky. Most of us are sugar-junkies; getting our sugar fix anyway possible to make it through the day, morning and night. I also highly value self-control. So to realise there was a big part of my daily routine that I had no control over was enough for me to make a change. And each of you will have a different tipping point; if you haven’t ever been able to kick sugar before (if you’ve tried) then you haven’t found your threshold yet.
This is what I did: I got a simple to read and pretty to look at book by Jessica Sepel called ‘The Healthy Life’. I was drawn to it because of her holistic approach to health, not just diet. I was also drawn to how easy it was to follow – Health 101, not all science-y and academic-y.
I made the decision to try her suggested 3 month cleanse; no dairy, no refined sugar, and no gluten. OUCH! No cheese? No milk? No ice-cream? No happiness?!! But I took advantage of my competitive nature and challenged myself, knowing I would be too stubborn to drop the ball.
I was fortunate enough to have the hubbs willing to do it with me, and he was a far worse addict than me. Let me paint a picture for you – his strategy to deal with disconnection was driving to the shops and buying a chocolate bar (or 2) and an energy drink. This strategy became a daily routine and a habit…repeated multiple times a day. In fact, he had so many energy drinks a day he didn’t even get a nudge of energy from them anymore – he’d crack one open before sleep! He is also one of those men who can eat whatever he wants and still have abs – you know the kind – they make us sick. So he had no immediate desire to change anything; except for the fact that if he didn’t he’d be making his own food.
The first few weeks suuuuuccked. Dennis was a total grump with his “coming-down” symptoms and I just had to find things to stop the craves. Because I am convinced that I will not live my life without the bliss of desserts I pushed myself to start baking healthy treats. I learned the one secret that has changed my eating habits forever… replacement NOT deprivation. If you feel deprived in any way, you will not last. All humans do things to get pleasure and to avoid pain – so you are fighting a losing battle when you deprive yourself. The only way I got through was by replacing unhealthy sweets for healthy sweets. And I loved them. They tasted great and were guilt free. I wasn’t missing out on anything.
At the end of the 3 month challenge, both Dennis and I had noticed such a physical and mental difference that we kept pushing back the end date of the cleanse. We didn’t want to go back to eating poorly. Why would we when we had learned a new way to eat and to look after ourselves?
Look, you might think that because I went off refined sugar that I can’t possibly relate or be as much of a sweet tooth as you. I get that logic, but you’re wrong. I was just as addicted as you.
Seeing as this is real talk, I have to get real with you… one day you are simply going to have to give up the excuses and do what you don’t like. Why? Because it will save your life and improve the quality of it. There is no way around it. Excuses will not enhance or enrich your life. Hard work will. Being uncomfortable will. Pushing yourself will. But remaining shackled to your addictions no matter what the cost, that definitely won’t.
If I can do it, you can do it.