I have a history of extreme sugar addiction. So when I decided earlier in the week to go sugar-free for the holiday season, it was met with a little inner resistance. Given the commitment I’ve made to my health over the past decade my sugar indulgences no longer look like donuts, pizza, and root beer, and are now about coconut ice cream, vegan brownies, and gluten free pizza. Healthier alternatives, but sugar none-the-less.
So last night, knowing I was planning to “officially” start this morning, I had pizza and ice-cream for dinner. You know, that last “hurrah!” meal. Of course, I wake up bloated and congested this morning and feel just bad enough to really commit to this sugar-free holiday journey.
And I began to think, well what does that even mean? No honey? No fruit? Or just no processed sugars and artificial sweeteners like stevia? In my excitement of embarking on this health journey and challenge, I wasn’t even quite clear what I had committed to.
I spent this morning doing quite a bit of research and it seems there are no black and white rules as to what it means to not eat sugar. Personally, my journey is more about breaking all sugar addiction and habits around when I reach for sugar (like after dinner, when I’m tired, or feeling an intense emotion) than carrying around a trophy touting my ability to not eat any fruit or whole food sweeteners like raw honey or organic maple syrup.
But I was still curious, so I reached out to my community on Facebook and asked, “What does no sugar mean to YOU? No honey, no fruit? Or no processed sugar?” I got a variety of answers like:
- To me? No added sugar! As in, not using any kind of sweetener, no matter if it’s unrefined, refined, or low-carb. However, most people don’t to see it that way.
- Processed. Your brain needs glucose to function or else you suffer from neuroglycopenia.
- No processed or added sugar…..fruit is good….
- not drinking soda and not eating gummy worms. i find sugar from fruits and other miracles of nature to be acceptable
- No honey, no artificials of course, no “natural” sugars like coconut, mesquite, or agavae, also minimal fruits, not noe, just nothing with more than 5% fruit content, most smooothies are fruit sugar BOMBs
- No refined sugar, No cane sugar, no sugar in products, no corn syrup, no sugar substitutes, no molassas, yes honey and fruit
- Try to limit sugar, even fruit to one serving a day- and try to find local, seasonal fruit. Check the farmer’s market- historically we didn’t eat apples every day throughout the year- only when they were in season.
And the list goes on and on and on. So taking all of that into consideration, I’m making my own rules for this sugar-free journey based on what I know my own personal triggers are and my knowledge as a Health Coach.
For the next month I am committing to:
NO added sugar….that means none of my favorite kombuchas that have stevia, no baking with coconut sugar, no pizza, no sweetened holiday coffee drinks and lots and lots of protein, greens, and high quality fat. THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS! Because I know, from history, the holidays are when I go overboard.
I am going to make treats like baked apples with cinnamon, enjoy tea with cashew or almond milk, make coconut milk green smoothies and give my body lots of TLC and love this year.
This makes me think back to what health used to mean to me. It was counting calories & points, measuring food, and eating low-fat. I felt deprived, pretty neurotic, and above all else, I was hungry! I would binge on sugar and then feel shame and guilt. It was a vicious rollercoaster. I was following all the conventional healthy eating rules correctly, but my body wasn’t nourished and what I was doing clearly was not working for me.
Many people trying to eat healthier make little changes, like switching to whole wheat bread, and while some whole wheat breads do have a lower glycemic index, it’s not a huge difference that will lead you to fully kick the habit.
The key is to cut carbs WAY back and use vegetables as carbohydrates.
Plate = 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 protein, and 1/4 complex carbohydrates (sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa – while staying away from white breads and pasta).
- Fiber = slow release sugar.
- Healthy fats curb sugar cravings.
Eating healthy fat helps curb cravings and keeps you steady and grounded throughout the day. Have a sugar craving? Eat a ½ an avocado or 1 tbsp. of coconut oil or coconut butter; works like magic.
So I’m telling you to eat more fat.
Yes, I know you’re thinking…but I’ve always heard to avoid fat!” Our society is stuck in the low-fat craze, but look around, is it working? No, we are fatter and more unhealthy than ever before. I’m not going to go into the history of why we’ve been fed the anti-fat line. The low-fat craze has been proven to be flawed.
Examples of “good fats” are:
– Nuts (preferably raw)
– Wild Salmon
– Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– Coconut Oil
– Grass-fed, organic butter
Top 5 must have foods:
- Almond Butter/cashew butter
- Greens (spinach & kale are a great starting point)
- Organic eggs
- Sweet potato
4 strategies to quit sugar:
- Don’t buy it. Get it out of your house.
- Commit to a small and do-able goal and bring in others to support you – make it very easy to succeed.
- Choose better alternatives.
- Take it easy on yourself. Focus on the successes, not the failures.
I am so grateful I’ve been open to doing it another way by focusing on whole, real, nourishing foods.
Do you want to join me?
I will be posting my journey on Instagram & of course, sharing what I discover (and recipes) along the way with you here.
If you want to commit in a big way for your own life, I encourage you to join the next round of 12-Days to Sexy. It is the perfect grounding force to keep you grounded and committed through the holidays.
I hope you join the sugar-free holiday challenge along side me!