Three Ways to Know if You have a Sugar Addiction and What to Do About it

The Reality… 
According to the National Institute of Health, sugar comprises 15% of the diets of American adults, and this statistic does not include foods with naturally occurring sugars such as fruit and milk.  In short, Americans are eating too much sugar, and the statistics on overweight and obesity support that position.  Excessive sugar consumption is linked to numerous health conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and heart disease.
What if I told you eliminating sugar might be as hard as an alcoholic conquering his desire to drink or a drug addict giving up the drugs that are destroying his life?  We think of addictions in terms of THOSE kinds of things, but a study by the National Institute of Health reports that sugar is noteworthy as a substance that releases opioids and dopamine and might have addictive potential.  To any of us who love sugar, addictive “potential” seems more like addictive “certainty.” 
The Challenge… 
Avoiding sugar can be a challenge for several reasons.  First and foremost, it has addictive qualities so once we have had a taste of it and it makes us feel so good, we don’t want to avoid it.  From the outset, our desire is working against us.  And the marketplace is at the ready to feed the addiction.  About 80 percent of packaged food items you will find in the grocery store contain added sugars.  And it’s even worse with drinks.  Next time you drink a soda, flip the can around and feast your eyes on the sugar content displayed.  Cans and bottles of contain about 40 grams of sugar, and there are drinks on the market that are even worse than that.  According to the American Heart Association, the most added sugar a woman should eat in a day are 25 grams, so even indulging in one soda will exceed the recommended daily limit.  And typically we are not stopping with one can of soda. You will also find sugar in lots of other favorites as well:  Fruit juices (just as sugary as soft drinks, ladies), candies/sweets, baked goods, fruits canned in syrups, and low-fat or diet foods all contain way too much added sugar.  Make sure to read those labels and if sugar is listed first, quickly return that choice to the grocery store shelf.  
If you have trouble avoiding the sweet stuff you might have a sugar addiction to contend with, and if you’re trying to lose the extra weight the sugar gave you, you must overcome the sugar addiction first. 
The Solution…
If you experience any of the following symptoms related to your consumption of sugar, you may have a sugar addition to overcome before you will experience success with weight loss.
Cravings.  When you eliminate or cut back your sugar intake, do you crave it and think about it all the time?  If you crave sugar constantly, there’s a good chance you have a sugar addiction. 

Bingeing.  When you consume sugary foods, are you able to enjoy a small and moderate amount at a time…just a little nibble?  Or is it a full-on binge that doesn’t end until all evidence of sugar in your immediate area have been consumed?  If you binge on sugar, rather than enjoy it in small and infrequent doses, there’s a good chance you are addicted to sugar. 

Withdrawal.  When you don’t consume sugar, what happens in your body?  Have you experienced any of the following symptoms?  If so, you might have a sugar addition.
  • Cravings
  • Lethargy or lack of energy
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
If you are overweight, reducing the amount of the sugar consume won’t be easy at first because you’ve likely developed a sugar addiction.  However, reducing or eliminating the amount of sugar in your diet will not only reduce your risk for the health conditions listed above, but it will also help you lose weight.  Expect the discomfort that will inevitably occur, but do so with the knowledge and certainty that reducing sugar intake is not only best for your long-term health, but also necessary for weight loss. 
You have to decide whether to completely eliminate or simply reduce the amount of sugar you consume.  Complete elimination, or “going cold turkey” is going to hurt, but the truth is reducing sugar is probably going to hurt a little as well.  After all, breaking addictions always hurts, but doing so is always best for your body, mind and spirit.
The prevailing recommendation seems to be that you should work your way up to a no-sugar diet so that you gradually recondition every part of your body from your taste buds to your brain that sugar is no longer going to be a main attraction in your diet and is no longer going to be the answer to your stressors and problems.  A gradual reduction of sugar seems to be the less painful alternative, and of course, will result in slower weight loss which is perfectly fine.  For long-term conditioning and permanent results, it might be better to approach your weight loss, including reduction of sugar intake, as a marathon rather than a sprint. 
The Invitation…. 
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

Five Strategies to Successfully Avoid the “Eating Out” Backslide

 
The Reality…
I have my clients journal daily as to the following components of weight loss: (1) stress management, (2) exercise, and (3) diet.  When it comes to diet, there seems to be a common theme that takes my clients off course with their weight loss, and the same issue took me off course many times in my own weight loss journey.
The Challenge…
Imagine this scenario: you’re busily working away when a friend texts to invite you to dinner.  This is the very excuse you’ve been waiting for to close the books on your workday.  Instead of heading home to your leftover grilled salmon salad, you find yourself in a restaurant.  The smells of deliciousness are wafting through the air, and in that moment your weight loss goals no longer seem important.  At the very least, you’re willing to give them a “one day” delay to fully enjoy the evening. 
If this only happened every so often, you might actually experience only a slight delay in reaching your weight loss goals.  However, we are presented with countless opportunities to eat out, and oftentimes we take them.
The Solution…
Eating out too often while you are trying to lose weight will definitely interfere with your success.  Try the five strategies below to avoid the “eating out” backslide. 
1.              Know when to Say YES and NO.   The key is to know these impromptu invites are coming, and to decide in advance how often you are going to say YES.  If you commit yourself to only one meal out each week until you reach your weight loss goal, you must decline any additional invitations, at least for that week.
2.              Redefine Your Purpose in Dining Out. Make eating out a purpose driven event rather than an eating event. If your family wants to celebrate a birthday or accomplishment at a favorite restaurant, let that be the focus of the experience and commit, in advance, that you are there to celebrate, not eat and drink. With that perspective in mind, look at the menu of the restaurant in advance and select a healthy alternative that you will most definitely order when you are there. 
3.              Manage Portion Size. The portions served in restaurants these days are, simply put, insane.  Made for giants, and not mere female mortals like you and me.  Remind yourself that you simply do not need to eat everything on your plate just because it’s there. Take a doggie bag home and stretch out that meal for one to two additional meals.  Or better yet, if the meal is not particularly healthy, leave what remains on your plate in the restaurant and in your past. 
4.              Redefine the Activities Involving the People with Whom You Would Ordinarily be Dining Out.   It is possible to enjoy time with together by engaging in activities that do not include the consumption of food and beverages.  Some ideas to chew on (pun intended):  take a walk in the park or at the beach or somewhere else in nature, or take dance lessons together.  The point is there are tons of low-calorie/no-calorie options for sharing time with people, so redefine how you spend your time, at least while you are working towards your weight loss goals.
5.              Plan in Advance.  Part of my weight loss coaching is to have clients plan each week, in advance, what they will eat and drink, including when they will eat out, and when they will enjoy any dessert or drinks.  We do have the power to plan for what we WILL and WILL NOT do when it comes to food and drink intake, and planning in advance reduces considerably the likelihood that you will too often experience the “eating out” backslide during your weight loss journey.  
The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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Five Reasons to Try Intermittent Fasting

The Reality…
 
There are so many different diets out there, it can be overwhelming to assimilate not only the sheer volume of information, but also reconcile the conflicting information you come across in trying to find the right diet for you. 
The Challenge…
I’m 52 years old, and I have struggled to one degree or another since law school to find the PERFECT diet for me…. a diet that wasn’t too terribly complicated or difficult to implement since I had a time-consuming and stressful career as a lawyer, and was a single parent to boot.  You can’t imagine how many different diets I have tried during that close to thirty-year span of time.  At most, I have had temporary success with the different diets I have tried.  I have learned from trial and error, and also watching the successes and failures of my friends, that each human body is different and there is no single RIGHT WAY to achieve and maintain a healthy body.  I entered my 50s still looking for MY right way to do it, and less and less confident that permanent weight loss would be possible at my age. 
Enter Intermittent Fasting.  This past year I tried Intermittent Fasting.  If your eyes are rolling back with skepticism right now, I completely understand.  It’s hard to fathom that Intermittent Fasting could be healthy for your body, especially when many of the latest diet trends recommend small, frequent meals to keep metabolism revved up.  I was well aware of what the naysayers were saying about Intermittent Fasting when I first decided to try it.
Since each person’s body and habits are different, I can tell you right up front that Intermittent Fasting may not be your personal answer to achieving a healthy weight and body.  However, at this point I’m a true believer in its many benefits because I know how I look and feel after adopting it.  
By the way, my brother, who passed away in an accident five years ago, was a big fan of periodic fasting, although the last thing he ever needed was a diet.  He fasted for health and spiritual reasons.  Looking back, perhaps he didn’t need to go on a diet BECAUSE OF his decision to incorporate periods of fasting.  After my own experience, I believe periodic fasting was his secret to a healthy body. 
What is Intermittent Fasting? Intermittent Fasting is basically a pattern that cycles between fasting and eating, essentially defining some window of time in which you eat, with the remaining periods allowing the body to rest and recover via a fast.  We humans naturally fast each evening when we sleep, but Intermittent Fasting incorporates extended periods of fasting into our waking hours. 
Our caveman predecessors experienced periods of fasting whether they wanted to or not since food was not so readily available in those times.  Imagine how much leaner we would be if we actually had to hunt our own food and grow our own fruits and vegetables. Our bodies haven’t changed all that much since caveman times, but our conditioning to desire and consume food, and our accessibility to food, certainly has undergone dramatic change.  The reality is our bodies are more naturally designed for periods of fasting than they are for frequent eating and the consumption of large amounts of food in a sitting.  Don’t you quickly feel that when you’ve eaten way too much??
With Intermittent Fasting, there aren’t really any rules as to what you should or should not eat, so it’s not really a diet in the ordinary sense of “eat so much of this, and don’t eat that.”  There’s none of that, although Intermittent Fasting is certainly more effective if you incorporate healthy food decisions into its basic structure.  I will explore the variety of different Intermittent Fasting methods in a subsequent blog, but for now I want to detail five reasons you might want to give Intermittent Fasting a whirl.
The Solution…
You may want to try Intermittent Fasting for the following five reasons:
  1.  Reduction of calories (weight loss)
  2.  Increases your metabolic rate so you burn more calories (weight loss)
  3.  Reduction of insulin (weight loss and disease prevention)
  4.  Increases human growth hormone (HGH) which promotes cellular repair (anti-aging)
  5.  Improves numerous risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides and inflammatory markers (heart health)
The Invitation….
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me.  What do you have to lose but some weight??  

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