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How to End a Love Affair With Sugar

How to End a Love Affair With Sugar

It’s 3:00 pm, and you are seriously craving sweets.

But you promised yourself that you wouldn’t eat sugar anymore. And ever since you made that commitment, sweets are all you can think about. The pull is so great that you can’t concentrate, so you cave. You eat it anyway, and as you eat it, you tell yourself “it’s just this once; tomorrow will be different.”

But it’s not just this once. You’ve been telling this to yourself for quite some time now: the sugar cravings are now controlling your behavior.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

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love affair with sugar

    Willpower doesn’t work

    You intend to quit sugar, but for some reason you still eat it. The trouble is, you’ve been relying on willpower and you’re discovering that willpower alone doesn’t work in the long term. Your motivation must be powerful enough to overcome any desire to eat sugar, and you need a way to curb the chemical side of sugar cravings.

    Who says you have to quit eating sugar?

    I’m quitting sugar because ___________ says I should. How would you fill in the blank?  Why does that other person say that you should quit eating sugar? Here are some examples:

    • My family says that I should quit eating sugar because I have mood swings.
    • This diet book says that I should quit eating sugar because I will lose weight faster based on (these studies).
    • My doctor says that I should quit eating sugar because I am diabetic, and it could kill me if I’m not careful with my blood sugar levels.

    These motivations originate from other people telling you that you need to quit eating sugar, and if this is your motivation, you are more likely to fail.

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    The motivation must come from you

    The driving force must come from you if you are to succeed at this. 

    For example: I need to quit eating sugar, because…

    • I want to be a good role model for my toddler (who wants to eat everything that I eat).
    • I cannot stop myself from eating when I get sugar cravings.

    But what if their reasoning is solid? Isn’t that good enough? Yes, however, you need to tweak the motivation so that it comes from you.

    For example: I need to quit eating sugar because….

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    • my mood swings hurt the people that I love.
    • I cannot shed weight any other way.
    • I want to live a long, healthy life, and my diabetes will kill me if I don’t quit.

    See how this is different? To make this work effectively, your tweak needs to come from you, and it needs to be powerful enough to overcome temptation when it arises. Once your motivation is clear, you need to have a plan that will help you on the chemical side of things.

    Reduce sugar in stages

    Toss out the “all-or-nothing” mentality—it doesn’t work. Doing it in stages is the most effective way to quit without having uncontrollable sugar cravings.

    Stage 1: Eliminate most forms of sugar

    At first, you need to stop eating most forms of sugar, but you need an emergency sweet  that will work for you when you get a craving. This sweet should not send your blood sugar as haywire as with sugar. If your ideal diet does not include the items in stage 1, you can tweak it in stage 2, once you have control of your cravings.

    • Eliminate all sweets (including sugar substitutes), except fruit, organic raw agave nectar, stevia, and maple syrup. 

    This will eliminate a lot of the problem foods, yet allow for some indulgences that you can purchase at a health food store.

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    • Eliminate (or drastically reduce) pasta, rice, and bread. These complex carbohydrates break down into simple sugars, so they contribute to sugar cravings and the mid-afternoon slump. They can also make you feel very sleepy if you eat them for lunch, so it’s best to eat other carbs for now.
    • Create a supportive environment. Remove everything from your home that you are not allowed to eat. If it’s not in the house, you’re less likely to go out and get your fix. Or, if you do, you are more likely to go to a health food store and buy something that is consistent with your plan.
    • Hold yourself accountable. Post your intentions on Facebook, Twitter, or post a comment here. Explain your new way of eating to your friends and family so that they can support you.

    When will you be ready for stage 2? You’ll begin to feel in control of your food intake and your cravings, and this level of control may surprise you. Once you’re in control, you’re ready to tweak it, if you wish. (Or, you can just stay with it like this. It’s up to you!)

    Stage 2: Be clear about your ideal, and tweak your diet to fit it.

    Clearly draw the line so that there is no doubt of what you will eat and and what you will not:

    Will you allow…

    • sugar substitutes? (xylitol, aspartame, saccharin, stevia, sucralose)
    • less processed sugar (succanat, turbinado, evaporated sugar cane juice, etc.)?
    • milk? (Lactose is a form of sugar.)
    • beet sugar?
    • grains?
    • vegetables? If so, will you only eat leafy greens, or will you include legumes, tubers and roots?
    • fruit? If so, will you limit your intake of fruit to certain kinds of fruits?
    • sweet syrupy substances, such as high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, or agave nectar? If it’s agave nectar, does your answer change if it is raw and organic?

    Once you have your ideal in mind, write down what forms of sugar you will allow yourself to eat on an ideal day. Now, tweak stage 1, and you’re golden!

    Readers: What do you plan to eliminate at stage 2? Hold yourself accountable here by posting a comment below!

     

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    Last Updated on October 20, 2020

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

    More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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