The Sugar Seduction & How to Stay Strong

The Reality…
Have you ever met a guy who was so sweet in the beginning of the relationship?  He lured you in with his charm and sweet talk.  You quickly got used to that feeling he gave you and found yourself craving him morning, noon and night.  However, before too long, you weren’t feeling so good at all.  The original sweetness that drew you in had turned into something very unhealthy.  Yet despite how unhealthy it was, you found it very hard to walk away.
The Challenge…

As is the case with matters of the heart, it can be very challenging to resist the delicious feelings sugar gives us, even after we experience its ill effects and understand intellectually its harm from a health and wellness perspective.  Sugar (and love….and sex) have an addictive quality to them because of the large amount of dopamine that gets pumped into our systems when we are under the influence.  So, understand when you are feeling this way about sugar (or love, or sex), you’re not necessarily crazy or stupid or undisciplined.  It’s your biological predisposition.  You and your brain (the one sending you messages that you’re going to die if you don’t have the sugar…or the love) are operating exactly as designed since both food and sex are necessary to our survival as a species.  When you engage in behavior the brain perceives as necessary for survival, you experience a release of the “feel good” hormone dopamine, which causes the sensation of pleasure, happiness and satisfaction.  The brain’s whole idea is to get you hooked so that you survive, and it seems to work quite nicely.

The tricky part about sugar is that it can lead to changes in dopamine receptors, meaning that a tolerance for it develops and more of the dopamine-inducing substance is needed to get the sought after feel-good feeling.  In some cases, there is a decreased ability to get pleasure from other substances and experiences, so sugar can seem like your only source of pleasure and the only thing that will satisfy you. 

The Solution…

While I would recommend a complete and immediate elimination from your life of the guy described above, I recommend a slower approach with the sugar following the steps below:

  1. Evaluation – Since many of us eat on auto-pilot and aren’t really sure what we have put in our body by the end of the week, it may be useful to spend a week or so evaluating when, how much and under what circumstances you are indulging in the sugar.  This means you have at least an extra week during this evaluation period to carry on your love affair with the sugar, so enjoy it while you can because getting as much sugar as possible out of your diet is fundamental to weight loss and maintaining a healthy body.  During the evaluation period, also notice the content of the food you are consuming.  There are lots of foods that are less obvious about their sugar content.  For instance, you may not feel you are consuming a lot of sugar when you have a shrimp cocktail or a plate of pasta and sauce, but you can consume your entire recommended amount of added sugar in one sitting with a generous portion of either of those options.  Use the evaluation period to really understand how much sugar you consume on a weekly basis, so you can decide which sources of sugar you would prefer to cut from your diet.  For instance, if you’re not ready for an abrupt break up with desserts, you may instead choose to eliminate spaghetti sauce or soda from your diet.
  2. Reduction Plan – Based upon the evaluation of your sugar intake, you should plan to reduce your sugar intake by 50 percent.  You get to decide what sugars you will eliminate.  I personally started with my coffee, and eliminated the sugar I had routinely added to each cup.  I also noticed that I ate dessert far more often than I realized, so I limited myself to 2 desserts per week.  Wine is another option I see with many of my weight loss clients.  Cutting back on the amount wine consumed during the week is beneficial to many factors that impact weight loss, including sugar intake.
  3. Decide Whether to Eat in Moderation or Eliminate Completely – The more slowly you tackle the reduction of sugar from your diet, the less painful it will be.  If you are in the habit of consuming large quantities of sugar, you will likely experience some withdrawal symptoms such as cravings and crankiness when you reduce sugar intake.  It’s up to you whether you attempt to achieve your weight loss goals while continuing to consume a reduced portion of sugar, or whether you decide to eliminate sugar all together.  I still indulge from time to time, but the truth is once I reduced my sugar intake drastically it seemed my taste buds were reset and when I do enjoy a sugary dessert now, it doesn’t taste near as good as I remembering it tasting in the past. For that reason, sugar is no longer able to seduce me into violating my commitment to myself to stay healthy and fit.
The Invitation….
Please leave me feedback on this blog or any questions as a comment below! 
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??  


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??