Did you take the plunge? Are you doing a sugar challenge? If you read my last post, you might find occasion to curse my name as you pass by the caramel corn or hot chocolate, but hang in there. Sugar fasting gets easier. I commend you for breaking up with sugar (or at least committing to a trial separation.) I have twelve simple tips to help you survive a sugar fast…
Some Sweet Advice:
It is tempting to bemoan the long list of “forbidden fruits.” Instead, look at what you can still feast on! You can still eat fruits, veggies, and other WHOLE foods. Even cheese and dairy are still on the list! Use this experiment to expand your repertoire, try new things! Don’t focus on what you can’t eat, look at life with a “plate is half full” attitude.
This may sound like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised. Check your calendar before you start. DO NOT sugar fast over your birthday, between Christmas and New Year, or the same week you have a cruise planned. (I know people who have tried all of these!) You are setting yourself up to fail. Pick a time where social engagements are at a minimum and holidays won’t tempt you. Ladies, you may even want to take cycles into account…and I aint talking lunar. Take a minute to look ahead and plan the smoothest sailing possible.
3. Arm yourself with some splurges
Usually “treat” equates with “sugar.” It doesn’t have to be so. I like to buy out of the ordinary fruits…like passion fruit!…or a high end snack such as pistachios to pamper myself with. Almond butter is a serious splurge for me. Explore your favorite SAVORY flavors. Explore cacao nibs or gourmet popcorn. Try kale chips or parmesan crisps. Try unsweetened trail mixes. Stock your treat drawer with foods that make you smile. There are still “sweet escapes” to be found.
Write down your goals and the reasons you are taking the challenge. As time passes, write down how you are feeling. Analyze your moods. Record your struggles and your victories. Tell yourself the downs are temporary and expect the highs to hit anytime. Record the good, the bad, and the ugly. It will help you hang in there when you look at the hurdles already overcome. If nothing else, it helps you realize “If I eat this brownie, all that awfulness behind me was for nothing!” A journal is a great way to vent frustration, but it is an even better way to muster motivation. Hard to wonder why you did this in the first place when your own words are there to remind you!
5. Know Your Triggers
If you can’t resist the smell of cinnamon rolls, don’t do your grocery shopping in the morning when the bakery is pumping them out. If you can’t handle making brownies for your kid’s scout troop without licking the batter, buy something already made or swap treat day with someone else. I know if I am doing a sugar fast I need to clear the dark chocolate out of the house because it will trip me up every time. I also know my cravings hit hardest late at night. There have been times I have simply surrendered and gone to bed, because I knew staying up would lead to my face in the fridge. You know your kryptonite…avoid it!
When you are faced with social pressure to indulge, know what to say or how to avoid it. When faced with social eating, I either tell people about my challenge, act full, or just politely decline. Where appropriate, I bring my own snacks (always enough to share!) If you are going out, just try to anticipate; it is harder to decline sweets when you aren’t expecting them and awkwardly trip over the words to say no. Usually a simple no thanks is enough. Occasionally, you run into people who try to sabotage your efforts, talk you out of giving up sugar, tempt you or even guilt you into eating their treats. Stick to your guns, you are the one who has to live in your body!
Write down your measurements and weight before your sugar fast and after. You will almost certainly drop some weight as your body begins detoxing. Though weight loss is not the primary focus, it can be a happy bonus! I discourage daily weigh-ins. If you can’t handle the suspense of waiting until the end of your challenge, try limiting your steps on the scale to once a week. It can be disheartening if the numbers don’t fall the way you want right away. Better to keep your head high and look forward to the day you don’t have to negotiate with the zipper on your skinny jeans.
8. Bribe Yourself
A shopping spree? A girls/boys night out? A couple’s massage? That new book you’ve been eyeing? Whatever it is, pick something you can look forward to as a reward. Remind yourself often that your prize is sweeter than the cupcake someone is offering you. Hint: a visit to Baskin Robbins might not be the best bribe.
Sometimes it is easier to get by with a little help from your friends. Find someone to do the challenge with. At the very least, find someone you can report to who will show enthusiasm and celebrate your victories. Hey, I would love to hear about the bowl of grapes you ate during the big game or the apple you sneaked into the movie theater. (Been there, done that.) Another bonus of advertising your challenge…it may cut down on temptation. Heaven help you if your neighbor decides to bring by a plate of her world-famous fudge while you are on day 3 of a fast! The more people know, the more help you can enlist!
10. Educate Yourself
It is so much easier for me to bypass the dessert bar when I know WHY I am better off without it. For example, I couldn’t give up my beloved Dr. Pepper until I knew exactly what was in it and why I didn’t want it in my body. (Still, the Good Doctor occasionally beckons; why do we love the bad boys?) During the most restrictive diet I’ve ever done (read about my adventures with HCG here) I became obsessed with food literature, trying to figure out “which of all the diets were true.” Use your spare time to learn more about your quest. An understanding of what you should and shouldn’t put in your body simply makes it easier to say to yourself “just drop the Captain Crunch and no one gets hurt.”
Sounds simple, yet it works. Drinking water is essential to detoxification; aiding this process will dramatically cut cravings and get you through adverse effects faster. Water will help keep you satiated, decreasing the likelihood that you will cave to the call of simple carbs. Establishing the habit of drinking water now will help you refrain from picking up the sugary drinks again when your fast ends. Finally, hydration promotes mental clarity, helping you to feel good and stay focused on your goals.
For some reason, when you finish a sweaty spin class or an hour of getting your butt kicked at Cross Fit, you don’t want to junk your system up with a Snickers bar. After working so hard to fine tune your body, you just can’t dump sugar in the gas tank. Not to mention simple mathematics: after 45 minutes burning 595 calories on an elliptical, do you really want to take down a Danish with OJ and put it all back on in under 2 minutes? The more active you are, the more apt you are to appreciate the cues your body gives you….it wants the good stuff, not the white stuff!
On to Sweet Success!
I hope these tips help. I know it is hard. I also know a sugar fast will pay back so much more than in costs. Hang in there. Email or Facebook me if you need some cheerleading. My hurkeys aren’t so hot, but I make up for it with enthusiasm! Finally, keep a sense of humor about you, and you’ll be fine.
When all else fails, know you are worth it.
You can do this. You deserve to feel good. You deserve to live in your best body; with energy and vitality! Kick the sugar, reboot your taste buds and find out how sweet life can be!