Hi. My name is Jocelyn and I’m an addict. I’m not saying I have a sweet tooth — this goes way beyond that. I have made more than one self-proclaimed “sweet tooth” cringe at the amount of sugar I put in my coffee, I have put sugar on my Raisin Bran (yes, I realize that the raisins are what are supposed to make the cereal sweet), and on occasion I have been known to shower my eggs in maple syrup (my mother almost disowned me for that one). And that doesn’t even count all the bread, bagels and pastries that I used to eat. I had never even entertained the thought of a world without sugar — primarily white, refined sugar. Until I came to work for Experience Life.
For quite some time, nutritionists, medical experts and publications (including this one) have been talking about the dangers of sugar consumption, everything from inflammation to diabetes to heart disease and more. I would like to say that I quit the sweet stuff the day I started at the magazine, but I didn’t. The closest I got was no type of sugar or sweetener during the first four weeks of my UltraMetabolism diet last winter. But during the second month, the first things I reintroduced were natural sweeteners: honey, maple syrup and agave nectar. The second thing I reintroduced was bread.
There’s been more talk over the last year or so about how sugar addiction is biologically similar to drug or alcohol addiction. To name a couple of articles, Mark Hyman, MD, talks on his Web site how some people need more stimulation to activate pleasure receptors, and Dr. Frank Lipman cites a 2007 study where rats chose sugar water over water laced with cocaine. While I find that interesting, and it’s somewhat comforting to know that my cravings might be more than just a severe lack of willpower, knowing that doesn’t really solve anything. I mean, I’m not allowed to drive drunk just because I’m an alcoholic, right?
5 Easy Steps to Reduce Sugar
However, I still can’t imagine living in an unsweetened world. So, since the elimination diet last January, I’ve tried to make some changes that, while not all of them are the healthiest choices, they’re a lot better than I was doing a year ago:
- I rarely keep binge-worthy foods in the house. (Recently, I bought a package of four apple fritters and they were gone in a day and a half. That won’t be happening again anytime soon.) Luckily, I’m pretty lazy: I’d rather sit at home craving something than get up and go to the store to satisfy that craving.
- I’ve mostly much stopped using refined sugar. At home, I use natural sweeteners for my coffee, and occasionally when I’m out I’ll use a little raw sugar.
- I’ve cut about 80 percent of the processed foods I used to eat out of my diet.
- When a sugar craving hits, I always start with something natural. I try to keep at least one type of fresh fruit (grapes and apples are a couple of my faves) around and I usually have raisins on hand in case I’m out of everything else.
- When I do slip (see #1), as soon as I can (usually once the sick feeling goes away) I forgive myself, learn what I can from the experience, and move on.
If you’re trying to combat your own sugar-consumption issues, we ran “Sugar Shock” in our May 2011 issue. It has tips on how to kick the habit as well as how to know how much sugar may be hidden in the foods you eat.
As for me? I’ve cut as much sugar from my diet as I can (for now) and still keep life bearable. And I just keep telling myself: One day at a time, Jocelyn; one day at a time.