Dealing with sugar addiction
My problem: I am completely and totally addicted to sugar, and I don’t know how to kick the habit. When I get stressed or overwhelmed, I eat some ice cream or cookies. If I can’t find anything else, I eat my kids’ candy–shameful. I know the answer is to not eat any at all, but getting to that spot is so, so hard. I feel so sick afterwards, sometimes I even am sick to my stomach, but I do it because it’s a temporary relief from my nerves. I’ve actually even mentioned it in therapy, but because I’m thin and exercise regularly, no one has ever really considered it a “problem” (don’t get me started on how ridiculous that is). It’s also one of those things not a lot of people understand, especially because I’m thinner. People push the cupcakes and muffins toward me at work, and when I say no, people don’t take me seriously. “You can take it! Pack on a few pounds,” etc etc. I’d really like to find another outlet for my stress (running and biking are great, but not possible all the time, like when I’m home with my 2 year old or when I’m teaching a class), so that when I feel overwhelmed I don’t instantly look for the first sugary substance to stuff in my mouth. And, more importantly: can i get rid of my kids’ candy? would that be depriving them of something other kids have just because their mom can’t handle it? If it’s there, it will always be a temptation, but I feel like a bad mom if I don’t let them have that stuff, especially because we don’t eat meat and I make them eat a lot of fruits and veggies–I feel like it’s their just reward.
I feel like every reader challenge speaks to me personally, but this one? Yeah, this one I really, REALLY get.
After I quit drinking, I traded in a serious problem with booze for an ongoing issue with sugary foods. Good trade overall, don’t get me wrong, but I really have to watch my sugar intake these days. Too many simple carbohydrates wreak all kinds of havoc in my body, and the more I eat the worse my cravings get. I totally understand using sugar as a stress outlet, because I have been there more times than I can count.
It’s a bad cycle, at least for me. I’m sure there are some people who can eat lots of sugary foods and be totally fine, but I get moody, lethargic, depressed, bingey, and generally more and more reliant on the exact food that’s causing me harm.
Here’s what has helped me:
• Exercise. It’s hard to make the time. It’s important to make the time. Exercise will help so, so much with this issue. I promise this.
• Potatoes Not Prozac. I didn’t follow the guidelines in this book, but I found it very helpful to read about a theory as to WHY I’m so sugar sensitive. This book provides a pretty detailed plan for weaning yourself off sugar, and I recommend at least checking it out.
• Get rid of it. On my latest climb back up the healthy-food wagon, I cleaned out all the processed, sugary junk in my kitchen. I’m not a person who can have one cookie, therefore, there are NO cookies in my house. I find that the first couple days are the hardest, and once your system is running on good, healthy foods . . . it’s just a whole new world. A much, much better world.
• No kid stuff I personally crave. To that end, it’s your house and you make the rules. Your kids are not going to be deprived if they don’t get candy every day. You know this, right? Ditch the guilt on that subject altogether. My kids eat a fair amount of kid-crap that the Whole Foods mom crowd would probably sneer at, but when it comes to sweet stuff I mostly pick out things I won’t be tempted to eat. Animal crackers, chocolate Goldfish, kid Clif bars . . . things they like, but won’t be calling me from the cupboard every single hour.
And one more gentle thought on that subject: candy doesn’t have to be a just reward. I love making my kids happy, and they love special treats, so I absolutely know where you’re coming from on this. But we can help our kids learn better eating habits right now, to help them avoid some of the problems with foods we’ve experienced. I’m not saying NO CANDY EVER—this certainly isn’t true in my house—but it doesn’t have to be a reward for eating a healthy dinner, right? If you’re living a life where sweet treats are occasional, rather than continual, this is not “not handling it”. You are living a healthy lifestyle and passing along a great example to your kids.
Readers, have you dealt with a sugar addiction? What sort of advice do you have for Shalini on breaking this habit?