“I can’t start my new diet yet because I have to eat all the sugary food in my house first, otherwise it’s a waste.” (World’s worst excuse, ever.)
A few things that will make giving up sugar easier:
– Start thinking of this as your lifestyle and not a ‘diet’
– Think of sugar as something you ‘don’t eat’ (a choice), rather than something you ‘can’t eat’
– Repeat after me: ‘I eat a diet free from processed foods and refined sugars except the very rarest occasion when it’s really worth it.’ Don’t think of it as ‘not eating sugar ever again’.
I have walked into client’s houses and thrown out binfuls of junk food, I don’t care how much it costs. We take it to the local food bin if we can, as I know for starving people junk food is better than nothing. But if your goal is to get healthy, lose weight and make long term lifestyle changes, you need to start now. Every mouthful of junk food is setting you back, making your journey harder and longer. Every kilo you put on, every sugar binge you have, is making your future harder. And by throwing out junk food that cost you money, you are making a stand for your health, and you are less likely to buy or eat it again.
Before the year begins, walk into your kitchen and throw out those foods that are not part of your new healthy diet. Exactly what this is, will of course depend on what choices you’ve made – for me it’s no sugar, grains or processed food. So instead of a cupboard full of biscuits, crackers, pasta, cereals, chips, processed snack bars, canned meat (vom), sugary sauces, cooking flour and sugar; I’ve got raw nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, nut butters, raw cacao, chia seeds, spices and Himalayan salt. Everything else is fresh food in the fridge (or still in the ground!).
Most of you have families and this is another excuse I hear a lot. I understand that’s it’s difficult to follow a certain diet when you have kids to feed (and in many cases a carb-addicted husband!) but what are you going to do – just continue putting on weight and risking your health because your kids want to eat crap and you can’t say no to them? Your family will benefit from a low sugar diet too. You family will also benefit when you are happier, more energetic and confident. I made sugar-free ‘paleo’ desserts this Christmas and my family loved it. Sugar was not missed. Stop buying it, stop eating it, and they will adjust. Besides, if they really want to eat it they can buy it themselves. Just ask them not to keep it in the kitchen cupboard.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure occasionally eating a very small amount of sugar is fine. But one of the main reasons we are better off avoiding it is because it’s so addictive. Eating sugar lights up the same reward centres in the brain as tobacco, alcohol, nicotine and heroin. It releases dopamine, the same feel-good hormone we experience after taking drugs or having sex. So a small amount can lead to a bigger amount which can lead to an everyday habit. And if you are living a mostly sedentary life, weight gain will likely become a problem – and then a myriad of health problems will follow.
I heard someone recently refer to fruit as ‘sackfuls of watery sugar’, which makes a good point but is a bit of a harsh exaggeration. Fresh, whole fruit is still packed full of vitamins and fibre. Just have it sparingly, a couple of serves per day. A little fruit is the least of your worries when there’s refined carbs and sugar, alcohol and processed foods to eradicate first.
For some people starting a sugar-free diet, allowing some dried fruit is a wise idea. Organic dried banana, apple or figs for example, can hit the spot when you feel like something sweet. After just a few weeks without refined sugar, your taste buds start to change. You’ll find naturally occurring sugars such as fruit and dried fruit, taste very sweet and a little bit is more than enough to satisfy a craving.
If you occasionally like to make yummy desserts you should stock up on coconut sugar, medjool dates, raw cacao, coconut cream/milk and organic maple syrup, as most sugar free desserts will call for these ingredients. I say ‘occasionally’, as even these ‘healthy’ desserts are high in calories and fructose and should be regarded as a treat, not an everyday occurrence.
Sugar-sweetened drinks such as soft drinks and cordials may be the worst form of sugar – when consumed regularly they are almost certain to cause weight gain as the extra liquid calories are not matched by a reduction in calories from other foods. At least if you eat a cupcake you will probably eat less of something else that day, whereas sugary drinks can be consumed by the gallon with no satiety whatsoever.
Being overweight, eating sugary foods everyday, and feeling guilty about it is not how you want to live your life. Since you’ve already identified this, make a stand for your health: start today by throwing out the evils in your cupboard, stocking up on the good stuff, and telling all your friends and family about it.
Then wake up on January 1st, 2014 and begin your new lifestyle with a smile (and a green smoothie?).