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Hi all! I've been a vegetarian for many years, and have significantly cut back on dairy and eggs. None of that has been much of a struggle, though I'm sure it may get harder as I eliminate it completely. My biggest hurdle, and the one that I am hesitant to even face, is giving up sugar. I know my cravings for sugar are usually mood-related. I want sugar (cake, cookies, candy, etc) during a rough day and for several days l later. I know there are some great tips and recipes out there for sugar cravings, but what has worked best for y'all? How have you reduced/eliminated sugar?
As a related side note, I've dealt with clinical depression for a number of years and wonder if my sugar habit could be contributing. Have any of y'all experienced a link between sugar and depression?
Hi there. I'm kinda in the same boat- I want to eliminate sugar, but I'm so addicted to it. It's in everything from sweet stuff to ketchup to salad dressings and more, so it is nearly impossible to avoid if you aren't thinking about.
While I haven't yet given it up completely, I've been taking little steps. First thing I did when I learned it was in salad dressings was to start making my own salad dressing. What's great about this is that I can play around with flavors and know exactly what is in it. Doing little things like that will help. It might be hard going cold turkey, so reducing it little by little can make the transition easier.
I've also dealt with depression (long-term depression). At it's worst, I was eating a lot of sugar and sugary substances. I was in such a dark place that I don't remember much about that time at all (it feels like years have just disappeared, and it's scary to me), but I know my eating habits were at their worst, and sugar products have always been my go-to comfort food. It can be a vicious cycle- you feel sad, you eat sugar, the sugar brings you down further, you want more sugar, etc... Take it little steps at a time if that makes it easier for you.
Experiencing it personally, I've found that the less depressed I am, the less sugar I crave. The less sugar I eat, the less depressed I feel. Right now, I don't eat much sugar at all, and I feel I finally have my depression under control. I tried going cold turkey, but found that it was mentally hard to just give it all up at once. If you watch the Ellen DeGeneres Show at all, there was a point where she gave up sugar and told her viewers what she was going through. She did it cold turkey, and experienced a lot of the symptoms commonly associated with any other addiction (sugar is quite addictive and like a drug to the body). She had cold sweats, looked exhausted, had bags under her eyes, and said she felt weak. After three days, the body washed all the sugar out, and she looked amazing! She was glowing, said her energy was through the roof, and said that she felt incredible. In the current situation I'm in right now (just started a new job, moving soon to a new city, having an hour and a half commute each way), my time is limited, so I have been eating healthy but haven't eliminated sugar altogether (though I only consume about 10% of the amount I used to), but I plan to do a complete sugar fast once I move in to a new place and have a little more time.
Can I add you as a friend on here? We could help motivate each other through this process.
I went through pretty much the same cycle with depression & sugar: feeling down, eating sugar, feeling worse, etc. Even recently, I've experienced the same cycle on a much smaller scale. Although I've been consuming a lot less sugar than I used to, I still have days where I over-consume sugar and then crash. Today was my first day trying to avoid sugar completely, and while I still used agave nectar in oatmeal and maple syrup in coleslaw dressing, the only thing that had straight sugar was actually a bun for my veggie burger. I wasn't able to find any buns or even sandwich thins without added sugar. Like you said, it's in nearly everything. Also, helping to motivate each other through this sounds great. I don't personally know any vegans or anyone trying to even reduce their sugar intake, so the support will be great. Kudos to you for eating so healthy even while having such a long commute & starting a new job. That takes a lot of commitment!
How did you feel at the end of the day without sugar? I did something yesterday, and it was a horrible experience. Before trying to cut down, soda was always one of my weaknesses. At my worst, I was drinking about 4 cans of soda every day. These days, I rarely drink soda. Yesterday was a pretty hectic day at work, and I gave in and got a can of soda. I drank about a third of it- it tasted horrible (probably since I haven't had soda since before buckling down on my eating), and I felt nasty. It was this weird, dizzy rush, and then a sudden crash. No "high," like soda used to give me. It got me thinking- slip ups do happen, but if they do, make use of them. Pay attention to how the food/drink/sugar makes you feel, really pay attention to the taste, and take note of what your body does over the next hour or two after consuming it. Thanks to yesterday, I've learned two important things: 1) Soda messes up my balance and my body doesn't react well, and 2) Since eating healthy, my taste buds have evolved to dislike soda, something I used to never get enough of. After that, I doubt I'll ever drink soda again, and that makes me happy knowing that my body is starting to naturally recognize what is good for it and what is bad.
I felt decent after one day without sugar, but today was my third day with no added sugar and I think I'm noticing a difference. Not sure how much is in my head and how much is in my body, but I'm less wound up than I typically am. Tomorrow is going to be tough to avoid sugar as I work a long shift and since I worked late tonight I have no food prepared. I'll still minimize it but it'll be interesting to see how I feel. If I notice a difference, it'll be like you and the soda-a good learning experience. How long did the soda affect you? Just the few hours or was it a longer term thing?
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A couple tricks to tame the sugar beast is to drink more water and eat naturally sweet fruits and veggies. Such as sweet potatoes, carrots, banana, etc. Also avoiding the culprits like if you can't find bread without sugar, than nix the bread for a couple days and see how you feel. Make nut butter sandwiches using apple slices, or kale wraps, etc. Find ways to avoid the things that are drawing you back in. See how you feel and adjust. Figure out what works for you is key.
But even bigger than that is to figure out the craving and deconstruct why it is happening in the first place. Are you getting enough sleep, are you happy in all aspects of your life, are you stressed, are you eating nutritious foods or is your body lacking. Sometimes something salty can promote a sugar need. The whole Yin Yang thing. Think about what you are or aren't eating when craving the sugar.
Good luck. Supporting each other is huge!
Example: Tonight I was craving something sweet before I ate anything, I thought first why the feeling was so overwhelming tonight, and realized I didn't drink as much water today. My house is a mess and my schedule changed so I was all off kilter today. Also realizing that I was still hungry as I had an earlier than normal dinner by 7:30 I could have eaten an entire house.
I ended up drinking a glass of water. settled down and when I was still hungry I went for a Green apple sliced with nut butter and cinnamon sprinkled on top. This did the trick for me. If I wasn't hungry after the water then I would have settled the craving easily.
Don't keep sugary foods around in your place. Remove yourself from the situation. Eliminate your cues to eat sugary foods.
Another tip: Eat whole fruit NOT dried fruit, juiced, blended, or anything else. This is a great replacement for sweets, the sweetness is generally lower, and actually has a dietary benefit vs. plain sugar. I do not recommend using sugar substitutes (splenda, equal, etc.), these don't really fix the problem, which is your self-identified sensitivity to sugar. Sugar substitutes are many thousands of times sweeter than sugar, and can in fact make a bad problem worse.
In fact I've been a sweet tooth myself for 24 years. Now me and my husband almost finished the 21 days of the sugar detox challenge (http://timreviews.com/21daysugardetox) and I must say the most dramatic change is that I actually ease to sleep at about 11p.m. and without waking up several times in the evening anymore. Before I used to sleep at 2a.m., woke up several times at night and got out of bed at 9a.m., feeling so cranky and exhausted.