They're ugly and dispiriting. But they're also normal if you're giving up sugar, so it's important to keep going. Each day we stay off sugar, we're creating new habits in our cells, our hormones and in our brains. Like a muscle, the more we practice, the more this way of being becomes second nature. But if you do lapse — say you sneak a chocolate out of the communal bowl at work, or pick at a friend's birthday cake — don't fret and don't give up. It's fine. Just keep your intention on track.
Tomorrow is a new day.
Often sugar is simply a treat. A punctuation point in the day, a reward for completing something challenging, or a tool to get you through a difficult task. I know I used to reach for sugar when I was working — it made the task feel less onerous and took the edge off so I didn't resent doing it.
Plan out a few activities that can take the place of the comfort drawn from sugar. Cutting emotional attachment is a huge part of this process. It's been the hardest bit for me. I found changing a few lifestyle habits really helped, so I sat down and wrote out all the moments that were going to feel hard while quitting sugar and then matched each one with a fix. I really suggest doing the same. It's illuminating. And necessary.
Here's a list to get you started:
Challenging moment: Mid-morning empty feeling or agitation (especially in the face of a difficult task)
The fix: Eat breakfast a little later. Push it back so that it coincides with the "snack attack."
Challenging moment: Afternoon slump.
The fix: Assign chores that require a walk — such as a visit to the post office — to that time after lunch when you always reach for a sugary snack. The fresh air will not only distract you, it will give you energy to get through the afternoon. Or, if you want to indulge, buy a new flavor of tea and serve it in a beautiful pot. Mindfully enjoy your cup of tea and recharge for the afternoon.
Challenging moment: Coffee with friends who order cookies or cakes.
The fix: Order a large pot of milky chai to fill yourself up. Investing in the tea-straining ritual is also a nice distraction. Alternatively, catch up over a walk instead.
Challenging moment: Plane rides.
The fix: Buy nuts at the airport, or bring your own nutrient-dense snacks from home.
Challenging moment: When you're in the middle of a tricky project.
The fix: Burn sandalwood incense sticks or cinnamon bark oil. The woodiness and sweetness smells almost as smooth and velvety as chocolate. Then make a pot of green tea.
Challenging moment: After dinner.
The fix: Eat cheese. It's decadent and fills you up immediately.
Have a bath and read a book. Sweetness in another shape!
Brush your teeth.