I know this truth down to the core of my former sugar-addicted self. I was a candy freak. I consumed thinking of the fat being free. No fat = no weight gain. But why was I gaining weight and not able to sleep at night?
My favorite movie was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. My grandfather was a candy salesman, but had to quit when my grandmother devoured all of his samples. This sugar addiction was taught from generation to generation. I remember picking out my favorite candy for special occasions, birthdays, the movies and than it became a daily consumption.
Sour Patch Kids, Sour Gummi’s, ShockTarts, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Blow Pops, candy necklaces, Nerds, cookies, ice cream, you name it. If sugar was an ingredient, it was in my possession. And don’t even get me started on Mug or Dad’s Root Beer. A dear girlfriend of mine loved the R.B. as much as I did and we called ourselves, “the Root Beer Buds.”
In 2009 I went to Thailand to teach English. I was exhausted, overheated and couldn’t stop myself from reaching for sugary foods and treats. I kept trying to pump myself up, but even the most delicious scoop of ice cream couldn’t tame the sugar beast.
I came home after 8 months of traveling and have never been sicker. I also gained 20 pounds while food tasting at every opportunity and from the anxiety of coming back to the USA after traveling for so long. I was terrified to come home, so I kept on eating. Banana pancakes called my name from every street cart, so did anything fried, which I don’t even like, I was just nervous eating. I didn’t know how else to deal with those emotions. So I ate. And ate. And ate.
After logging in a food journal, I began to realize how much sugar I was consuming and how shitty it made me feel. Even the Luna + Clif Bars I snacked on contained SO MUCH SUGAR! The skinny peppermint mochas weren’t doing me any favors either. The soy chai’s were murdering my adrenals and the cinnamon chip bread from Great Harvest Bread Co. made me bloat. I thought I was just full and that a pregnant belly was normal after eating cinnamon roll bread.
Poor little belly. There were some issues in my personal life, a roller coaster relationship, no clear life direction and an emptiness in my heart that I kept trying to fill with sugar. Once I realized the connection between my emotions and cravings for sugar, I was able to stop.
I’ve been free from sugar for a few years now and continue to create/bake concoctions that are diabetic friendly. I made black bean brownies last year and people loved them until I mentioned they contained black beans. Or the time I made cookies using coconut flour. If you’ve ever baked with coconut flour, you know how hard it can be to swallow those cookies (no pun intended). I felt like I was choking. It’s safe to say, my quest for the best chocolate chip cookie with no sugar or nut flour remains unsuccessful. But so many other great quests have been conquered.
Get help with your sugar addiction + don’t let yourself stay locked in your kitchen so you can eat cookies in private, like I did.
The holidays are quickly approaching and anxiety is slowly rising…especially for people who have lost weight or are trying to maintain. I get the feeling. Treats are abundant and “no” only sounds good until you see your favorite goodie…
Simple tips to get you through the holidays without gaining weight:
1. Don’t eliminate, unless you know you will devour the entire thing. If something is too tempting or you’ve sworn off sugar for the last year, don’t indulge and than feel guilty. Remember that November + December come every year. If you can take a bite, a breath, a bite, a breath, maybe one more bite and be done, than have at it!
2. Eat before you go to a holiday party. This is a recipe for success. I remember thinking, “I won’t eat all day, so I can eat whatever I want tonight.” Perfect for a binge. Do not do this. You will slow down your metabolism and your body will be mad at you. Bottom line: Eat like you normally do.
3. Bring a dish. If you know there will be nothing healthy at the party, then bring a veggie platter. This is my go to. Cut up carrots, broccoli, radishes, celery + anything else that sounds good and bring 2 tubs of hummus for dipping. If you really want to get wild, throw in a couple of gluten free crackers!
4. It’s okay to say no to parties. As a fitness professional, I try to go to sleep before 10pm every night, so I can wake up @ 5 and teach @ 6AM during the week. A lot of holiday parties start at 7PM or later, I might stop by for an hour or just say no. Health is the most important thing and if you can squeeze it in, go, but if it creates a crazy feeling, opt out!
5. Lay off the egg nog, or just take a couple sips. There are TONS of recipes for healthier versions of bad foods we love. So look some up and you will be wowed at how many calories you are saving by making a modified version!
6. Cleanse. I love when people ask me about the AdvoCare 10 Day Cleanse and think you are not allowed to eat. I would NEVER not eat for 10 days, let alone 1. I’ll probably do the 10 Days leading up to Christmas, so my energy is higher than normal and my body is nice and detoxed to start the new year.