My love affair with sweets goes back many years. I enjoy foods like French fries and chips, but if I never had them again that would be okay with me. However, if you take away my cookies, candy and cake, we've got a problem. The more I eat sweets, the more I want them. And usually I end up feeling guilty afterwards, knowing that I could have opted for the small dish of ice cream instead of the giant sundae. Too much sugar makes me feel sluggish, and for a long time I've wanted to break my sugar addiction but felt like I didn't have the willpower to do it. Recently I had the opportunity to make a serious commitment to cut back on sweets, and so far it's going better than I expected.
I'm Catholic, and typically we give up something during the season of Lent (which is 40 days long). I haven't observed this practice in a few years, but this year, on the first day of Lent, I decided I wanted to give something up. Nothing like waiting until the last minute to decide, right? I knew that sweets had to go--and that it would be a significant commitment because of how much sugar is part of my daily life. I got very anxious thinking I'd have to give up everything and was worried that could lead to failure (kind of like the person on a diet who never allows themselves a treat). So I decided I could still eat Tootsie Rolls, which is kind of a strange "rule" to make, but I knew I'd never get through the 40 days without allowing myself something small.
The height of my sugar addiction was about six months after each of my kids were born. At that point I was still nursing and began training for another marathon. It was hard to find the right balance of calories because if I didn't eat enough my milk supply suffered. Eventually I figured out that somewhere between 3,000-4,000 calories per day worked best for me. That sounds great, but it really is difficult to eat that much healthy food every day. So I'd end up eating a large handful of candy or a bunch of cookies at the end of the day to get me into my calorie range. And after a while, I got so used to that way of eating it was hard to stop. After the marathons were over and I stopped nursing, the habits continued. I knew I needed a serious reason to force me to quit eating so much of that stuff. It might not have been a large volume of sweets relative to what some people eat, but it was more than I felt comfortable having in my diet.
A week into my 40-day journey, we celebrated my mom's birthday. That was really hard because my husband made a beautiful cake with LOTS of icing (my favorite), and I couldn't even try a bite. Then my mom decided not to take home the leftovers, so I had to look at that cake sitting on the kitchen counter for another few days. But I successfully resisted the temptation, and slowly, it got easier. I got used to a new way of eating and stopped depending on a cookie or a bunch of candy after each meal.
Lent is over, but I've continued with my significant sugar cutback. I'm satisfied with one small brownie instead of two, or even no dessert at all. I've lost a few pounds, I have a little more energy, and I feel good at the end of the day knowing I didn't go crazy with the sweets.
Have you ever felt like you're addicted to sugar? What have you done to break the addiction? Did you notice any changes once you stopped eating so much of it?
Do you think you're consuming too much sugar? Check out last week's blog to find out!
More From SparkPeople