Take Sugar Out Without Torture
Eight weeks can be a long time for someone to take out all sugar.
Heck, one week can be a long time.
For some people it might be easy, but for the majority of people, it can be quite difficult and definitely not on the top of their “bucket” list, even though it might have a large impact on their overall health, or in my case, mood. As humans, we naturally don’t like to give things up or “torture ourselves” on purpose.
I recently took sugar out of my diet for eight weeks. My plan was to keep it out for 21 days; however, I just kept going as I was feeling great and I had no cravings or need for it.
Sadly, here in the United States, we consume a lot of sugar and sugar (in all forms) is unnecessarily added to a lot of food products (even organic and natural food products). Sugar can be used as an extra filler, to create a more favorable taste or to generate a stronger desire (or addiction) to a certain product causing you to consume more (and therefore purchase more). When you eat sugar, you’ll crave more sugar. There’s actually research stating that sugar is more addictive than cocaine.
It’s not a huge secret that sugar is truly not a part of a healthy diet. (Yes, maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, raw local honey and other natural sugars are all still sugar.) Personally, when I decided to take sugar out, it was because I was feeling off, moody, more emotional, and a bit down/depressed. It was after the holidays and I was consuming more than normal (in the form of dark chocolate and gluten free healthified treats).
I knew I needed to change something, but I wasn’t super excited about taking sugar out. You see, I’ve had to take out ALL sugar (including fruit) for over 90 days before (that was in 2015) to work on my personal gut health. I knew I could do it, but I wanted to do it on my own terms and for my own reasons.
After sharing that I decided to take out sugar and that I actually accomplished it, I’ve received A LOT of questions on Facebook, facebook messenger, emails and in some of my healthy eating and fitness groups, so I decided to write up some tips to help or at least those that were helpful for me. If you’re looking to take out sugar or even small steps to create a healthier lifestyle, these will be helpful.
Eight Tips to Take Sugar Out Without Torture
1. Determine your WHY.
Why do you want to take sugar out?
It’s important to have a good *personal* reason and to dig deep and remove the layers of your reason WHY you want to do it. Don’t do it because someone else is doing it. While it’s great to have support and accountability when making healthy changes in your life, creating a positive change, including taking out sugar, needs to be for YOU first, followed by a strong reason WHY.
Personally, my reason for taking out sugar was NOT to lose weight, it wasn’t because anyone else was doing it, it wasn’t to impress anyone, it wasn’t for anyone else, it was for me.
My body felt sluggish, fatigued and I was moody, overly emotional, groggy (even though I was sleeping 8+ hours a night) and I just knew something was off. There are things you can control and things you can’t control, so I wanted to take positive action on what I knew I could change (but hadn’t yet done it) and that was SUGAR. I was already eating healthy and exercising, but the main thing I noticed that was different was my craving for sugar and increased sugar consumption in the form of dark chocolate and gluten free holiday treats.
My WHY was to FEEL healthy, vibrant, and energized and know that I could take control of my emotions, feel empowered and gain back my positive mindset (and clear the hazy emotions pulling me down). It was to FEEL like ME again and to be able to feel more love for myself and grounded in my own body. You see, the healthier you eat, the more sensitive you are to foods and changes in foods in your body, that includes sugar.
What is your deeper WHY for taking out sugar?
Write it down. You can brainstorm and write down a variety of reasons, but write it out. Now, please.
2. Set a clear goal paired with your why.
Be specific and include your WHY in this goal. Don’t just say “I want to take sugar out to lose weight.” or “I know I don’t need sugar, so I’m going to take it out.” It’s not deep enough and more than likely, without a deeper reason or anchor, you won’t stick to this vague surface level goal. Remember, sugar is addicting.
Get specific. Here are some questions to help:
> Why do you want to take sugar out? (From #1 above).
> How are you feeling now while consuming sugar?
> How much sugar do you consume in a day? (Do a personal sugar audit. List out daily sugar-filled foods/foods you eat that contain sugar.)
> When do you crave sugar the most?
> How do you want to feel?
> How do you want to feel after taking sugar out?
> How long do you want to keep sugar out of your diet?
> What types of sugar do you want to take out of your diet? (All sugar, all sugar and all fruit, all added sugars, sweets and treats…)
> How do you see this fitting in with your current lifestyle?
You can try out this this equation:
I take sugar (get specific on what types of sugar you want to take out) out of my body for (XX) days, starting (date).
On (date), I will feel X, Y, Z and will re-evaluate my relationship with sugar at that time.
My WHY for taking sugar out is: __________________. I will reach out to (person/coach/group) for accountability and support.
I am confident I can accomplish this goal.
3. Clean out your pantry, fridge and anywhere else you keep food. TOSS IT, don’t hide it.
Honestly, I KNOW if there’s sugar (for me, dark chocolate) in the house, I will find it and eat it. It’s truly hard for me to have just a nibble, so it’s always best for me to keep it out of the house and out of reach. Be honest with yourself and make the necessary changes YOU know you need to reach your individual health goals.
Schedule a date to clean out your cabinets, pantry fridge and anywhere you keep food. Toss out the food, don’t hide it (we all know that doesn’t work). It doesn’t matter if it was on sale for $2 off and you’re saving it for later. Is your WHY more important than saving $2 and eating junk? I hope so. If not, go back to #1 and dig deeper.
After your kitchen is cleaned out, make a list of what “naturalita” foods you desire to stock up on so you can fill up your fridge with natural and nutritious food. Imagine your cabinets and fridge filled with living and fresh foods.
4. Go Healthy YOU Food Shopping: Prep and prepare your healthy foods and meals.
Let’s take out your “naturalita” food list and go Healthy YOU food shopping!
Stick to your list, if you need to add anything to the list, ask yourself:
> Is this natural and healthy?
> Will this nourish my body?
> Is this a craving?
> Does this have sugar?
> Will this food help me achieve my personal goals?
Stick to the healthy, fresh and natural foods. Most food that is free of sugar is fresh and not packaged. Shop on the outside of the grocery store aisles. If there’s an ingredient label on it, read it. Some foods do have sugar added (hidden sugars); it might surprise you.
Prepare your food once you get home or plan a date to do it within the next 24 hours. If it’s prepared you’ll eat it. One thing that’s helpful for me is to wash and prep all of my healthy veggies on Sundays. I also cook any meat (except fish) and any starches I plan to eat (I mainly eat sweet potatoes, and I usually cook them in the slow cooker). I use glass Pyrex containers to store my prepped and cooked food.
If it’s helpful for you, you can plan out your meals for the week, too. This takes time, but the more you prep and plan ahead, the less time you have to spend on this during the busy work week. As I shared earlier, if healthy food is prepared, you’ll eat it. If it’s in the fridge, but not yet prepared, then there will be a higher likelihood that you won’t eat it. Trust me, I know this, I’ve worked with hundreds of women in the area of healthy eating, plus I also know myself.
When will you grocery shop and prep your food?
Choose the date and commit.
5. Hydrate with Water.
Cravings can come for a variety of reasons, but usually the number one natural craving our body has is for pure, natural water. Not soda, not juice, not alcohol, not coffee, not tea, but pure natural water. Our bodies are mostly made of water, so it truly is the most natural craving, but we tend to ignore the “craving” for pure water the most.
Drink water. Not anything that is made with water, but water in its pure form. The more hydrated your body is, the less sugar cravings you’ll have.
6. Amp Up Your Healthy Natural Foods, Eat Close to Nature.
We talked about the importance of cleaning out your kitchen, grocery shopping and food prep, but you actually have to EAT these healthy foods. Keeping sugar out of your diet WILL have you cooking more at home, which is a great thing.
When looking at your fridge and/or healthy plate at each meal, think of how the foods in front of you will nourish your body. How many of these foods are filled with the natural nutrients your body needs to survive?
If you think about how you’re nourishing your body while you’re eating, you’re focusing on that natural mind and body connection with food and creating an overall healthier relationship with food and, in turn, your body.
7. Back to the Basics: Read Ingredient Labels.
When you’re taking sugar out, it’s important to create even more awareness around what’s in your food. If you’re eating all natural one ingredient foods, this will be pretty easy, as normally there isn’t anything added to the food. However, if it’s pre cooked, there might be sugar added to it. Be an ingredient detective all of the time. Always look at the ingredients in your food.
Know what’s in your food. We know how to read ingredient labels, it’s not difficult, but we tend to get into the habit of either not caring at all or staying in familiar routine and caving to our favorite emotional comfort foods versus what our bodies really need to heal and grow.
8. Find Support and Accountability.
When I decided to take out sugar for (at least) 21 days, I was starting to coach my January “Healthy YOU” group, so I knew I would have external accountability. Finding an environment of positive support is crucial when making any healthy life change.
There will always be temptations and the chance you will fall back into old habits. Those that want to see you fail, feel guilty about their own health or life might tempt you to sabotage your goals, so having positive support and accountability is essential.
If you’re looking to receive more accountability in releasing sugar and achieve other healthy YOU related goals, I coach and support monthly groups that you can join. If you’re interested, there’s more information here or feel free to send me a message.
What did I eat while taking out sugar?
This is another question I get asked a lot! Well, when I decided to take out sugar, I also decided to eat mostly Paleo, as from past experience, I know that works well on my body. I don’t necessarily follow specific *diets*, but I have tried a variety of different ways of eating on my body.
A book that I love is Practical Paleo and I used recipes from that book and my own simple recipe creations. I mostly followed a more autoimmune protocol (which is listed in the book). Since I already can’t have dairy and gluten, Paleo is easier for me to follow. (I'm also an O blood type, so I do know I do best on and need animal protein.)
*One thing that I did drink daily was Shakeology. It’s not necessarily Paleo and does have some natural sugar in it. However, before you flip out and tell me that’s *cheating*, remember, I created my own WHY and my own rules for my journey. I’ve been drinking Shakeology daily for over 4 years, so I wasn’t about to take it out for this change, when I know how much it’s benefited my own personal health. (I drink the chocolate vegan and/or tropical strawberry vegan. It also helps with my cravings and has a lot of amazing superfoods and probiotics which help with cravings, too.)
On a daily basis, I would eat (this is not exact, but gives you an idea):
Breakfast: Vegan Shakeology with water, frozen figs, organic spinach, MCT Oil and Collagen
Lunch: Animal Protein, cooked or raw veggies, and a sweet potato with coconut oil (or avocado).
Dinner: Animal protein, cooked veggies with coconut oil, sweet potato (optional, if hungry) and possibly avocado
Snacks: Coconut Fat Bombs, Avocado, Coconut Oil, Coconut Cream, Raw Unsalted Nuts, Organic Peanut Butter (which is why this is Paleo-ish - I can’t eat almonds)
Fruit: I had some fruit, but it was mostly in the morning with my Shakeology. I don’t necessarily eat a lot of fruit in the winter months, unless that's my only option. I didn’t intentionally skip it either. (I also don't eat fruit with meals.)
Hydration: I hydrated A LOT with pure water and/or a mix of apple cider vinegar and lemon with my water.
Exercise: I followed the 21 Day Fix Extreme workout plan for two full rounds.
Overall, I felt great, energy was great and my mood was great. I probably overdid it on eating the coconut fat bombs, but it helped me with my cravings and they’re sooooooo yummy.
Since I don’t weigh myself, I’m not sure if I lost weight or inches. That honestly wasn’t my goal for taking out sugar this time. I truly wanted to shift my mood and just feel better in my body, which I did accomplish.
Did I achieve my WHY?
Yes. You know what? I actually felt better in my body. I don't think my body externally changed in any huge way; however, I felt more confident, more positive and a lot more love for myself.
It felt like a cloud was lifted... yes, even with just taking sugar out, but also adding in a lot more self-love and continuing with my other healthy habits, too.
It's all connected. It really wasn't about the sugar, it was about releasing emotions and habits that weren't serving me and by releasing that (and other beliefs along the way), I felt more empowered.
Upon arriving in Japan, I knew I had a new adventure of finding food I could eat (I can’t eat gluten or dairy and eating gluten free is quite difficult in Japan) so I knew that I might not be able to keep sugar out, but I also wanted to enjoy some little treats in Japan, too. I do like treats, it’s just important for me to create more balance (and less consumption) with sugar. Less is better for me.
I actually plan to take sugar out again now that I'm home in the USA. I'm kicking that off with starting my April Healthy YOU group (I have groups starting monthly). It’s a good starting point and refocus for me, plus I know others have joined in and take out sugar for their own health benefit. (If you're looking for additional support and accountability in your health journey and/or taking sugar out, you can join me! Please contact me here and I can share more information with you.)