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How To Stop Eating Sugar

How To Stop Eating Sugar

The “how to stop eating sugar” dilemma is something that a lot of people struggle with. Giving up sugar seems like something you should commit to, right, since after all you want to be healthy and fit — or even ripped.

Both speaking from my own experience and so many people who I’ve talked to that struggle with this dilemma, it seems like when you try to tell yourself that you can’t have sugar or sweets at all, that creates this weird binge-avoid-binge-avoid cycle.

So, when people ask me for suggestions on how to stop cravings for sugar, here’s what I tell them works best from what I’ve learned.

1) Stop telling yourself that you can’t have it and instead tell yourself that you can have it, you just choose to have it on Saturdays and Sundays, for example.

2) When you do eat sugar, don’t make a big deal of it in your head. Eat it, enjoy it, and move on. The biggest culprit behind “not being able to stop from eating sugar” is being super hard on yourself and stressing out about eating it and how bad it is for you.

A little bit of sugar isn’t bad for you. It’s when you beat yourself up about a little bit of sugar, that leads to a lot of sugar (binge), which is the problem. By the way, when I say binge, I don’t necessarily mean eating a whole family size package of Oreos, I just mean the slippery slope of continuing to eat more sugar because you think you’ve already screwed yourself by eating some sugar.

3) Just take it one step at a time and don’t think that you have to totally remove sugar from your life forever. Just do a little better than you did last week, then next week do a little better than this week, and pretty soon your cravings for sugar will be less, and you will not eat it nearly as much as you used to, and you also won’t even think about eating it as much as you used to, because slowly it became less a part of your life and your habits/thoughts/cravings are different.

4) This totally goes against what a lot of the media and researchers will tell you, but… just stop reading all of the studies and research and articles about how bad sugar and [insert whatever other foods here] is for you. It’s really not that helpful!

You know what you should eat (whole foods, lots of veggies), and reading that stuff just makes you feel worse, not to mention what is right/wrong and bad/good seems to change every week so they have something new to write about…

Just eat lots of veggies, feel good about the healthy stuff and when you eat the piece(s) of chocolate, let it go and know that tomorrow is a new day and in the grand scheme of things, if your goal is to be healthy for the long-term and feel awesome, then feeling guilty and getting down on yourself isn’t going to help.

So, those are my thoughts. Do you have anything to add?

Share in the comments section below and tweet, Facebook, email this blog post to a friend that you think might need to hear this too.

image by stevendepolo

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Chenay Schroeder October 19, 2011 at 8:02 AM

Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU for posting this article, especially now.

I have been down that path of completely beating myself up for loosing will power and caving into a sugar craving. I was not succeeding under the “all or nothing” mentality AT ALL. I would feel like such a weak person for loosing will power, and then came the “well you already messed up, so why bother” mentality – it was such an awful cycle to break.

Once I did cut sugar out, in a healthy way (the it’s perfectly OK once in awhile mentality) – I did find that once I went back to the sugary foods I once LOVED – I could only eat maybe a couple of bites before I started feeling sick to my stomach, it was just too much. So now, just a little goes a long way.

I’ve been having a personal war about what to do with myself and my kids this time of year. I remember such fond memories of baking with my own Mother this time of year, and I have so much fun doing it with my own kids. But I don’t want all the left over product around in the kitchen either. So I was really struggling with the “do I give up tradition, and family time because of sugar?”. But I just want to thank you, because until your article I was undecided. I have now decided that I WILL keep up with tradition and happy times, eat a little of it; and give the rest away to friends, teachers, the postman – whoever, because I know I can’t have that stuff around the house.

But sugar isn’t going to stop me from creating memories with my children, thanks to this article! Thank you!. =)

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Sheila October 19, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Hi Chenay!

You are so not alone. I think this is a common struggle among people who are learning how to make healthier choices and are transitioning into a new, healthier lifestyle. It’s important not to hold yourself up to some standard of perfection because the reality is, you don’t have to be “perfect” in order to be healthy (and happy). Being your healthiest self is a life-long process of trial and error, where you just keep getting better and better and more and more clear about what your healthiest, happiest life looks like. So, the more you can give yourself a break and the time to figure out what works best for you (without being super hard on yourself when you have those moments when afterward you say, oh boy that was not a good idea, the quicker you get to that place where sugar cravings and the mental battle just fall away).

I have been there too regarding the holidays and healthy eating vs baking Christmas goodies etc, because for me, baking with (and for) family and friend equals love, plus I really love eating holiday goodies too. ;-) But when I decided that it was okay that I love of sweets, I also developed a love for finding new ways to make old favorites with other ingredients that made them taste good, but had more whole food ingredients, i.e. using bananas or dried fruit as sweetener. One of my favorite cookie recipes is now this one. That being said, I’m not afraid of a semi-sweet chocolate chip white flour cookie either.

I’m so glad to hear that this was helpful. I’m planning to write more on these sorts of topics soon.

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Chenay Schroeder October 19, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Sheila – that’s my new goal, to increase my healthy recipe knowledge; and what/how to sub out the yucky stuff with the yummy healthy stuff. As a somewhat novice, it’s hard to know what works, so that’s why I really appreciate all your recipe posts! =) I’m really excited to try the pumpkin bread one you recently posted, and I’ll have to try the cookie one too! Thanks for sharing these, and keep ‘em coming! =)

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Sheila October 21, 2011 at 9:02 AM

We’re so glad to help, Chenay! Let us know what you think of them once you try them.

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Tracey October 20, 2011 at 6:28 AM

Hey Shelia!!!
Been a while..but back to needing your great “middle of the ground” words of wisdom! Please more posts like this:)

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Sheila October 21, 2011 at 9:04 AM

Will do Tracey! Glad to have you back. :-)

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Dawn Cutler October 20, 2011 at 10:29 AM

Sheila, As usual you are right on! Living in a extremist state is a certain way for us to set ourselves up for failure. Thanks for reminding us that a few sweet rewards can be an empowering component of a sound nutritional plan! : )

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Sheila October 21, 2011 at 9:07 AM

Yes, the secret to long-term weight loss is being happy with what you get to eat.

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Denise October 20, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Sheila:

This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I appreciate all the recipes that LIVEWELL 360 shares on how to still incorporate the tasty treats we love into a healthy, yet delicious way. I am usually an ALL or NOTHING person, but your words have helped to bring a little more balance into my life. I am slowly startin to realize that it is ok to indulge a little every now and then and just get right back at eathing healthy whole foods again. It is the deprevation that destroys me long term because I too love my chocolate. Thank you for always being so insightful and for sharing your journey with us all.

Denise :)

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Sheila October 21, 2011 at 9:17 AM

Yay, my favorite words to read: “This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me.”

You said the key word Denise–deprivation. The bottom line is, if ya feel deprived, you’re not going to be able to sustain what you’re doing long-term. Period. I went through it too. For a long time I was suuuper strict and it got me to where I wanted to be at that time, but since then I’ve learned more about what works best for me. And I found out that I could have a great body and enjoy foods the foods that I love to eat.

It’s not about the sugar or the cookie or the chocolate, but rather about the guilt and deprivation attached to eating it when you think you shouldn’t.

Finding ways to eat whole foods the majority of the time, while incorporating and ENJOYING foods that are not part of your usual meal plans but sometimes you just want to eat ‘em, is the trick/balance/sweet-spot (pun intended) to long-term healthy living AND maintaining a kickbutt body to boot.

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Sheila October 21, 2011 at 1:07 PM

With the holidays coming up I thought it might be helpful to link to the Holiday Food Stressin’ Podcasts I made back in 2008. These are the basic guidelines that I follow regarding holiday eating.

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Frances December 22, 2011 at 10:22 AM

I can so relate! I’ve been on a yo-yo cycle of self loving and self loathing for years. When I flip my ‘ who cares’ switch the I binge as if I’m never going to see sugar again. Its the most depressing cycle I’ve ever known, far worse than caffeine or other addictions I’ve had. Your informations seems most balanced of all. The all or nothing does not work. After failing for so many years I now know that! Ho hum, I’m going to try the middle path and do the best I can, knowing its about progress not perfection. I’ve learned of late to trust myself completely and know what works best for me after some 45+ years and to stop listen to the rubbish that other people tell me about what works for them, or media’s latest find or the nect best thing…Here’s to a happier, healtheir me! Thank you for your guidance…

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Sheila December 22, 2011 at 12:08 PM

Frances you are a superstar! Thank you so much for sharing your story. Cheers to a happier, healthier you. We know you are going to ROCK IT! :-)

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Julie G. December 22, 2011 at 2:54 PM

This is soooooo my personality! Thank you for the advice! So needed around this time of year too!

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Danny October 2, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Even after reading this im still finding it hard to stop eating sugar, no matter what, i just cant help it, im like a bee!! :(

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Sheila October 11, 2012 at 7:24 AM

Hi Danny,

Try not to be so hard on yourself. That’s really the first step. Sugar is not the devil, the guilty feelings and shame that come after eating it are what is the most unhealthy for you. Cutting down on your sugar intake really has a lot to do with your emotional health and your feelings of attachment to it. I offered a teleclass last night about how your emotional health is the key to getting your dream body. It was for women, but the principles that I taught apply across the board (for men too) and I think you’d really get a lot out of the call. If you are interested, you can listen to the recording. The link for the recording is at the bottom of rockyourdreambody.com. Good luck to you, and please do keep us posted on your progress.

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Ashley October 12, 2012 at 4:59 PM

My entire life I have had a sugar addiction and I recently (February) became ill to the point where I was almost dead. I made a promise to myself that I would eat healthier. It started out great away at school because I just wouldn’t buy the candy. But now that I’m at home, my mom is always by chocolate (my weakness) and I’m finding it so incredibly difficult to stay away from sugar, because I know I need to. I eat way too much of it but it’s always right there. HELP!!!!!!

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Sheila October 12, 2012 at 8:09 PM

Hi Ashley,

The first thing I want you to do is breathe. Seriously, take 5 deep breathes. You’re going to be okay. I’m going to give you a few suggestions on where you can get further help, and you can check them out and see what feels like the best fit for you.

1. I recently offered a free call on emotional health and how to kick your metabolism into high gear. While I realize that we’re specifically talking about sugar here, and not your metabolism, I really think the call would be great for you to listen to. You can download the recording here.

2. Over at sheilaviers.com I have many articles on the topic of emotional eating. I think many of them could be helpful for you.

3. When you sign up for our Live Well 360 newsletter, we offer a complimentary copy of our Healthy Eating Integration Guide. In it I talk a lot about my journey from binging to where I am at now, with a healthy relationship with all food (sugar included). If you’d like to sign up and check that out, you can do so here (plus you’ll be entered into our monthly Live Well 360 fitness bag raffle).

4. The Slow Down Diet is a great book written by Marc David, the founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, about building a healthy relationship with all food. Check it out and see if you want to pick up a copy.

5. Finally, you may want to hire an emotional eating coach like myself, who has been there, knows how you feel, and who can take you by the hand and walk you through from where you are to where you want to be.

You will get through this, girl, I know you can!

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