“What’s your Vice?”
“I do loads of exercise…easily enough to burn off these chocolate bars” I said as I was about to unwrap my 3rd galaxy bar of the day.
The truth is that I was addicted to sugar. I didn’t know it at the time and it took me many years to accept it.
At the time I was in good shape in terms of lean muscle and low body fat. I was exercising a lot, maybe too much, and had a 6-pack. But there is another side to addiction that isn’t visible.
It’s the damage you are doing to yourself from the inside out. Looks can be deceiving. Never judge a book by its cover, you commonly hear. And there is truth to it.
I was lucky. I didn’t ever put on a lot of weight, but imagine the strain it was putting on my system. The constantly sugar highs and crashes soon after. Chasing the next fix.
But I don’t eat a lot of sugar…
This is the response from a lot of people. They believe they don’t eat a lot of sugar because they don’t eat much cake or chocolate. When asked what they do it, often it’ll be a list like this:
Kellogg’s cereal for breakfast
A cup of tea/coffee with 1 teaspoon of sugar
Toast with jam
Sandwich from Pret for lunch
Snack of dried fruit with nuts
Coffee with a low fat biscuit
Chicken korma for dinner with white rice
Low fat yogurt fruit yogurt for dessert
And they say that they’re not addicted to sugar…Can you see which are the culprits and how much sugar there is in them?
Top Tip: Just out of interest, see how many foods you eat each day (check the label) which have more than 5% sugar in them. That’s 5g of sugar per 100g.
Unfortunately the food we eat contains a huge amount of unnecessary sugars. Look at any cereal box. It’ll be around 25% sugar. Literally ¼ of what you are eating is sugar…
Same for fruit juices. It has been processed to such a high degree that there are no nutrients left in it. All that remains is a high sugar drink, similar to a can of Coke.
My personal experience is that I can now see I was addicted to sugar for years. I never accepted it, and therefore never managed to quit it. I would justify it by telling myself things like “I’m in good shape, I can get away with eating it”. “I like it, it’s just a small bit (every day)”. “I could give it up if I wanted to….”. And the list goes on. Once I genuinely felt and realised that I had an addiction, I was able to get further with the removal of it.
The first step is to realise that we have an addiction. If we are in denial, like I was for years, we can’t change it. After all, there is no issue to fix if we don’t have a problem, right?
The next step is to track what we eat, when and why. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Simply keeping a food diary for a week or taking photos of everything we eat and drink will help us track it.
The power of this is incredible. It’s simple but effective. It not only allows us to see exactly what we are eating, but also when and why. By writing down how we feel at the time we can see if there are any patterns. I often eat high sugar foods when I’m stressed and tired for comfort. Do you?
Sugar & caffeine are likely addictions for most people. How many coffees are you having each day? Keep track. Do you think it would be possible to switch 1 or 2 of them to green tea, water or herbal tea?
Have you ever tried to quit smoking? One client likened removing processed sugar as the same feeling. I’ve never had to quit smoking so I don’t know what it’s like but I know trying to quit processed sugar was hard.
Question: What addictions do you have? Are there things you do each day which are not helpful to you and you’d like to reduce? Do you think you are not addicted to them? Smoking, eating chocolate, drinking alcohol, etc? Maybe you don’t see them as addictions because you enjoy doing them?
If you stopped for 4 days, what would happen? How would you feel? Can you stop for 4 days as an experiment?
Write down what you think you might be addicted to
Over the next 2 days, try to see if you have urges for those things
Remove them for 2 days and see how you feel