Wouldn’t you like to ‘junk the junk for June’? No biscuits (cookies) or cakes, or added sugars. A lot of people have a sweet-tooth. I know, for me, ever since childhood, sweets were a weekly treat and I associated them with a reward for being ‘a good girl’. But I’m 52 now, so why do sweet foods still feel like a cuddle from a parent for being good? This is such a strongly-ingrained habit which has taken many years to cultivate, so trying to overcome it isn’t going to happen overnight (or in the space of one month)! But, concentrating on eating healthily during June is a good starting point.
Take a moment: to analyze your own sweet-tooth craving! What’s behind it? Childhood reward? Habit? Sadness? Boredom? Food often goes hand in hand with an emotional response or need.
Why ditch sugar?
There is a certain bliss in ignorance, you know. I hadn’t realised that excessive sugar consumption was becoming a major health concern. So much so that the World Health Organization has recommended that we only consume 25 grams per day (six teaspoons) largely due to the explosion of Type II diabetes worldwide perpetuated by excessive sugar consumption. Our bodies don’t like this artificial sugar. We experience an initial, welcome burst of energy after eating something sugary, but this doesn’t last and many of us can then have a sudden and severe drop in blood sugar levels soon after. The symptoms of low blood sugar are really unpleasant: shakiness, trembling, sweating, anxiety and panic can all set in and you feel compelled to eat more of the same type of food to immediately recoup your energy. So then we find ourselves on a blood-sugar roller-coaster, swinging from one extreme to the other, and—as with everything in life—we know intuitively that moderation is best, don’t we?!
How to reduce sugar intake:
If you want to ‘junk the junk for June’, start by taking a look at the back of packets to see how many grams of sugar are in the food you are about to eat! Remember, the recommended daily intake of 25 grams! It’s not that much. Have some fruit instead, as this natural sugar is better for you than refined sugars. Do some research and inform yourself of the many different guises (names) of sugar so that you will recognise them on labels. Stock up on fruits that you like, such as clementines, dates, grapes, apples and melon; make sure to include protein at every meal and snack. This makes you feel fuller for longer, so reducing snack attack moments!
Sugary drinks are another no-no, even the sugar-free ones which have artificial sweeteners in. Avoid them altogether. Some alternatives to fizzy drinks would be to put fruit slices in a jug of water and place this in the ‘fridge; make fruit smoothies in a blender (there are plenty of recipes online); and drink water!
The spiritual aspect:
Giving up a bad habit, especially one in which the craving is particularly strong (such as eating sugary foods) takes a lot more spiritual effort than say giving up alcohol when you only drink 2 or 3 units per week anyway. This will take determination and focus. You have to will yourself to keep going. Have a mantra or affirmation to hand that you can repeat when temptation strikes, such as “I will keep my body temple clean.”
Over to you:
Take the first step this June to gradually reduce your sugar intake and keep your body temple clean. I’ve done a sugar-free month before and it’s tough, especially the first fortnight when your body craves sugar. It gets easier thereafter, to the extent that you don’t miss it at all. Use distraction techniques, and follow the advice above. Keep good company and don’t give in to peer pressure. By that I mean, do not allow your friends to ‘persuade’ you to have cake (“Just one won’t hurt!”). Good luck. Your body will thank you. What a wonderful act of kindness to do for yourself. Let me know how you get on. Remember, I’m no nutrition expert; I just want to share what has worked for me. Anita.