My addiction: How I overcame an addiction to sugar.

Let's get personal for a minute, shall we? Over a year ago, I decided to give up eating refined sugars. I quickly came to realize that I wasn't just giving up sugar, I was giving up a life long addiction, a love-hate relationship with sweets. Giving up sweets was my biggest hurdle, it is different for everyone, but for me, sweets were my down fall. I quickly turned to healthy natural sweeteners for alternatives (honey, maple syrup, dates, etc.) which often brought back the same addictive behavior in myself. See these yummy little chocolate balls of deliciousness up there? Yeah, I could eat all of those in one day. I would feel sick after eating them, but I would do this because something much stronger than hunger was driving my actions.  "Addictive eaters can never stay on diets for long - NOT because they are WEAK or LACK will power, but because the food they crave can be as addictive as drugs or cigarettes." - Marissa Peers

I want to point out something that might be exactly what you need to hear today to keep you motivated on your personal journey with food. I want you to know that YOUR ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. You are not weak or lacking in anyway. You are not lacking will power. Just because you cannot stick to your "diet." There is so much guilt felt around eating and it needs to stop! 

You have an addiction, and addictions in nature are ADDICTIVE. They are especially challenging because of this little guy in our body called dopamine that is released every single time we eat or consume that addictive substance. The only way to get rid of an addiction is to quit, to stop eating the addictive food, to stop putting that cigarette up to your mouth, or in this case, to stop putting that processed, refined junk into your mouth. “The ‘hallmark of addiction’ is when you "lose control" of your eating habits,” says Dr. Paul Kenny. That was so true for me. I learned very quickly that the thing about addictions is that once you remove the addictive substance from your body, initially your body will miss it, but quickly it will adapt and adjust to your new normal.

I've put almost 100 women (and a few men) through my "Lose It In 6" holistic eating and weight loss program, which is 100% refined sugar free, and I have noticed a remarkable trend among the majority of these clients. Within the first few weeks of the program they report noticing that their cravings for sugar, sweets and refined foods have decrease. The first 3-4 days into the challenge they report experiencing "withdrawal effects" and then, suddenly, their cravings for refined sugars usually stops. Now, later in the challenge they may experience something different called "emotional eating," which will cause them to want to break their newly formed good habits because of a reaction to an emotion that is connected to an unhealthy food, leading to a sugar relapse that triggers the initial addiction again.

Alright, let's fast forward to my one year mark. One full year without eating refined sugars. How did I celebrate you might ask? Well, of course, by allowing myself one day, free of guilt, to eat whatever I wanted. So, I went and bought myself a tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, my favorite milk chocolate candy bar, a tuxedo cake and a vanilla bean frappuccino from Starbucks. GUESS WHAT!? I couldn't do it. I drank one sip of my used to be favorite treat from Starbucks and it was so over powerfully sweet that I had to ask my husband to finish it for me. I took one bite of my chocolate bar and (100% honestly) spit it out because I had never realized how waxy and artificial milk chocolate tasted before. Well I don't have anything bad to say about the Ben & Jerry's ice cream because, let's be honest, it was delicious and I finished the entire container. BUT, let me tell you, I couldn't eat it all in one sitting and I had a bad tummy ache after (as I'm recalling this experience right now the saddest part is that the tub of ice cream was one of those small little containers, 500ml, that I normally would have been able to eat the entire thing while watching a movie any other day before this experience). 

Of course, the next day I felt sick so I knew in my head I didn't want to do that ever again, BUT what I wasn't ready for was the strong cravings that came back. AFTER a year of no sugar, one day with sugar again and BAM, they were back. I was strong and within 3-4 days the cravings were gone, but something miraculous happened, my cravings for "healthy sweets" was gone aswell. I no longer needed these extra healthy nutty balls sweetened with natural ingredients to curb my cravings. Although I have made a few this year (2017), today is the first time in weeks that I made a "healthy treat," and I want you to know that I ate one and I was like, “Whoa! That is WAY too sweet.” So, I only ate one. Then once my mouth adjusted to how sweet it was I ate another half of one later on, and now I don't feel so good. I pay attention to how my body reacts to sugar and guess what? Despite what I have been telling myself all these years, IT DOES NOT LIKE SUGAR! 

Our bodies are not designed to digest this monochromatic substance that causes all sorts of nutrient imbalances in our bodies. It wants food that contains a well balanced variety of nutrients, fibers and proteins. When we eat balanced food, our body becomes balanced and doesn't have to work so hard to keep up with our off balance choices. 

That's not the first time I realized my tastes have changed. I have been implementing more probiotic foods into my diet lately and sauerkraut is one I love. I usually get mine at the farmer’s market but I didn't have time one week so I bought some at the grocery store. The label said that it only contained cabbage and salt. I trusted it but GUESS WHAT!? There was sugar in it (it wasn't on the label, so I can't say I know for a 100% fact, but I can say that I trust my taste buds these days and the store-bought sauerkraut was VERY noticeably sweeter, to the point that I didn't want to eat it. Maybe there is a sweet type of cabbage I am unaware of?). All I know is that my taste buds are changing, my ability to taste and enjoy food (real, live, nutrient dense, good quality, delicious food) has sky-rocketed, and my ability to even LIKE the processed, refined, sugary, salty, trans fatty foods I craved before has left me. 

My body is still addicted to sugar, but seeing where I was before and where I am now, to me my journey is a full 100% recovery. I can have healthy treats every now and then and I need only one or two pieces to keep me satisfied. I am not my addiction. I am not weak. I do not lack will power and I never have. I simply had an addiction to sugar that I did not understand. Your mind is powerful and will do what you tell it to do. But it is really hard to fix what you do not understand. I hope you take something from this personal experience of mine, to have the courage to face your addictions head on, and know that the only way to stop the addiction dead in it's tracks is to stop eating the addictive foods. Whatever it is that is causing you to "lose control" of your healthy way of living, that my friend is your addiction. 

Here's the recipe for these delicious chocolate balls (because I know you've been dying to know.) 

Chocolate Coconut Bites 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup almonds 
  • 6-8 medjool dates (de-pitted and soaked)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetned shredded coconut 
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder 
  • 1 tsp maca powder 
  • 1 tbsp honey 
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil (melted) 

Directions: 

Blend all dry ingredients in a food processor, once the almonds are fine add the wet ingredients and continue blending. Form into balls and enjoy. They will keep in freezer for 2 weeks. 

Enjoy! 

X.O. - Viktoria Jones C.H.N. 

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