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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 March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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