Just Say No

Beating Your Sugar Habit

By Connie Bennett

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Spring/Summer 2006.

Are you often overcome with an urge to splurge on candy, cookies, and cake — and do you then hate yourself for caving to your cravings?

Take heart. You can quit (or at least cut back on) both sweets and processed, “much-like-sugar” carbs such as white bread, white rice, and pasta.

Back in 1998, I did just that. On doctor’s orders, I totally kicked my sugar habit and licked a whopping 44 symptoms (honest!), including nagging headaches, unexpected mood swings, debilitating “brain fog,” and severe PMS.

I’m now on a mission to help others break free. I know that spurning inferior sweets and quickie carbs can turn your life around, too. Here are my tried-and-true tips and tactics to help you “just say no” to quickie carbs:

Adjust your mindset. Before you can begin to make better dietary decisions, you need to totally change your thoughts. Toss away such negative views like, “I can’t quit sweets.” Instead, dwell on positive ideas like, “I’ll feel great when I kick quickie carbs.” Now fill your mind with pleasant, powerful images. See yourself in charge, instead of enslaved.

Plan a pity party. I know this might sound counterproductive, but I’m convinced that before you cut out low-quality carbs, allotting a specific, short amount of time — say, 72 hours — to feeling sorry for yourself can work wonders. But then get over it and get on with it.

Keep a food journal. Begin by jotting down what drives you to simple carbs, when you clamor for them, where you eat them, why you want them, and how you get them.

Power up. Pump up the protein (such as fish, chicken, tofu, legumes, and lean meats), fill up with fiber (vegetables, fruits, and whole grains), and embrace healthy fats (olive oil, flax seeds, avocado, etc.) — consuming them all in moderation, of course. These three dietary changes alone can help moderate your blood sugar levels, take the edge off your appetite, keep you feeling satisfied longer, and provide needed nourishment.

Savor the flavor. Eat fresh, natural, wholesome, colorful, nutritious, preferably organic vegetables and low-sugar fruits. Next time you yearn for something sweet, enjoy a few tasty cherry tomatoes, a chunk of red pepper, or several fresh strawberries.

Start your day with a healthy meal. Research studies show breakfast eaters perform better. If you skip that vital first meal of the day, you’re setting yourself up for overwhelming sugar cravings.

Develop a can-do attitude. Abandon that woe-is-me stance, and tap into your inner strength. Even if you’re furious with yourself for having eaten nutrient-poor foods for so long, use that anger to reinforce your positive attitude.

Now go for it and trust in your ability to succeed. Believe me, you can enjoy a sweeter life without refined sweets.