I can totally relate to feeling out of control with your food and unable to stop eating sugar. I used to have that same struggle, and would eat sugar throughout the day. I would binge on sugar, beat myself up over it, swear to give it up forever...and do it all again the next day.
This is now my area of expertise and something I am passionate about helping women overcome. I have a few very important questions you can ask yourself to help you get a handle on this issue.
1. Are you eating enough?
When we under eat, our bodies DEMAND food. And guess what, when our bodies demand it, we go for whatever is fastest, easiest, most delicious. This often means sugar, fat, and salt. So make sure you are eating a wholesome satisfying breakfast AND lunch to get you through the day.
2. Are you eating the right things?
That means including carbs, fats, and proteins, and lots of fruits and veggies. Oh, and it should be something you ENJOY. IT is essential that we are nourishing ourselves, not just getting basic nutrients. If we are depriving ourselves of enjoyment in our daily meals we will often seek it later in the day in the form of junk and treats.
3. Do you know your triggers?
People can be triggered by many different things. Over hunger, as I described above. Sight and smell, so you can avoid, say, pastry shops with large windows if this applies to you. Also learn your emotional triggers. Stress, bad relationships, lack of a relationship, boredom, avoiding unpleasant tasks, and many other things that fall somewhere on the "emotional" spectrum can drives us to want to eat. These can also be overcome with practice.
There are many ways to overcome sugar addiction. However, they can be broken into two categories: Physical and Mental. (Or maybe Logistical and Emotional.)
1. Physical/Logistical - These are easier changes to make.
Remove hidden sugars from your diet.
Check sauces, breads, all breakfast items, all snacks, pretty much all prepared foods. Compare ingredients across multiple options, and choose the one with the least sugar, but MORE IMPORTANTLY, a short ingredient list. If you simple check the grams of sugar you will almost for sure be buying something with worse ingredients.
Look for ways to replace, reduce, or remove things that are intentionally sweet.
Do you put sugar in your coffee? Cut it in half, then cut it in half, then cut it in half, until it is not very sweet, or, if you still like the taste, not sweet at all.
Do you like something sweet after dinner? Find out if you can have some slices of fruit instead of ice cream. Or, like the coffee, start with a plate that is half fruit and half ice cream, then reduce the ice cream further, then substitute sweetened yogurt, then move to unsweetened yogurt.
2. Mental/Emotional - These are all the things that make it seem impossible to do the changes I've described above.
These are the days you feel so stressed out and overwhelmed you pull out the whole tub of ice cream and eat it straight from the carton.
These are the moments when you sit in front of the TV after a long day and suddenly the entire box of Chinese take out has disappeared.
These are the afternoons when you just can't make it without a giant latte or chocolate bar; this is what gets you through the day.
This is the part of the equation when you tell yourself you're going to change... and you don't.
This is the struggle of deciding to stop, and then you can only think about the thing you are stopping. And when you finally "give in" you eat three times as much.
Some people can just decide to do the physical changes and they are done. For other of us, including me, the mental changes MUST be addressed to lay the foundation for the physical changes to succeed.
The mental changes are addressing the problem behind the sugar. The problem behind the sugar may or may not be known to you. The problem behind the sugar may or may not be clear when you think about it. You can begin by looking backward over the past week and thinking about what PRECEDED the sugar binge or failure to stick to your resolution.
Bad day? Fight with the spouse? Kids going crazy?
Horrible boss? Lonely? Bored? Angry? Tired? Annoyed?
If you don't know, or you do know, but still can't seem to make headway, then you should seek support - read, ask a friend, find a professional, whatever it is that helps you find a clear path and system to address the problem behind the sugar.
Are you ready to say goodbye to…
- junk food
- ice cream
I admire if ANY of these or on your to do list, and I want to help you make sure you don’t fall into the trap of ending up back in your old habits!
Do you have a plan and system to make sure you can sustain those changes? Sometimes a huge lifestyle change works, but often it can feel overwhelming.
Because if you have a long list of “give up” foods it may mean you have been eating more of them than you'd like. And perhaps you’ve been doing this longer than you’d like as well.
And it’s all too common to give them up… keep it up for while…then fall back into old habits.
Which is frustrating, even depressing.
I'd suggest taking some time to look at how each of these habits will be worked in. A few ways to consider this:
1. Do you have a time each day blocked off to make sure you are preparing healthy food?
2. Are you going to meal plan and/or prep to have healthy foods readily available to yourself?
3. Also, perhaps most importantly, have you asked yourself how your habits got out of alignment with your values? Did you get stressed? Did you get busy? Did you get bored? Did you get lazy? Was it the way you always ate and you are ready to change it? This is an essential step I see people overlooking, but it really helps you move forward without falling back into old habits!
I love to collect fun little treats for the boys' easter baskets, some wind up animals, pinwheels, always books (yes we are nerds), and a few little treats. Enough for ONE day.
We also like to have brunch either on our own, or with friends or family.
I love to make Quiche. It is easy, I always have the ingredients, and you can throw anything in.
Buy a pie crust. It's true they are simple to make, but it's much faster to buy one, and you and I are both busy. Just make sure it doesn't have a bunch of weird crap in it. I like to keep Trader Joe's Pie Crusts on hand for quiche or pot pie. (Oh and when I DO make a crust, I double the recipe and freeze one of my own!!!!)
Double the recipe and you will have breakfast or lunch for the week!
Do you do meal planning? Have you tried but found it overwhelming?
Late night is THE MOST COMMON time I see people - women and men - turning to sugar (and other junk foods, but mostly sugar).
I used to have a sugar addiction that led to acute but severe health issues, and I still love sweets. The difference now is I understand my triggers and know what I need to do to have a healthy relationship with sugar.
And guess what, I find myself thinking I want sweets late at night as well.
Why is that?
The end of the day...
you are tired...
you are exhausted...
you've had it up to here with your boss/your drama friend/your kids/your whatever...
you are tired...
you finally got all your crap done for the day and have time to think about running into your ex/the worries of your family/the work that didn't get done...
you are tired...
you did not get a chance to relax all day and now you really want to enjoy yourself...
you are tired...
you still have so much left to do...
something on the computer...
get ready for tomorrow...
you are tired!!!!
Okay so the BIGGEST factor here is that you are TIRED!!!
It sounds SO SIMPLE, and yet it is not.
Because our society does not value rest and relaxation and our society makes "busy-ness" seem like an essential part of our lives.
But I'm telling you right now... busy-ness = stress and stress drives us to make bad choices because of the hormonal/chemical affects on our brain.
So, if you want to stop late night sugar binges, plan your entire day around getting yourself into bed earlier.
Meal prep your lunches, leave the dishes in the sink (or hire a house cleaner), shut the TV off at night, or whatever you have to do.
Past a sign up in the cabinet/fridge where the sweets are that says "GO TO BED." And read it anytime you go for the sugar after 7-8pm.
Let me know how it goes!!!!!
I'm so excited to share a guest post today from Erin Kendall! What I love about Erin is her commitment to making it easy to workout, despite the challenges you face of finding that work-life-family balance! Here is a FIVE MINUTE - just FIVE MINUTES - workout to get your energy up. Replace your afternoon croissant and coffee with this for a week and tell me how you feel!
5 Minute Energy Boosting Workout
When you're eyeing that cookie simply because you are in need of a quick jolt of energy, think again! There is an alternative that will do you much better than a quick sugar fix. Use this quick workout to get oxygen rich blood flowing and a happy hormone boost. Using your legs and any other major muscle group when short on time is a smart move because those muscles require the most blood flow. This is the kinda energy that will carry you for the next several hours instead of the next few minutes like that cookie. If you're still feeling fatigued and exercise just isn't cutting it take a look at your sleep patterns. I recommend a minimum of 6 hours sleep. 8 hours of sleep on most nights is ideal.
Erin Kendall is an American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer with 2 little toddlers at home. Erin has been a personal trainer since 2009 and works with clients in person, online and maintains a community of other Fit Moms through an inspiring and motivating Facebook Group; www.facebook.com/groups/fitmomgo
I help busy, ambitious women connect their food to their desires & overcome emotional eating in a non-judgmental, supportive environment.