Physically detoxing off sugar is just half of it. Chances are, you have some strong emotional ties to address, too. Your attachment to sugar is likely to be deeply engrained in social practices, routines, and rituals. If you want complete sugar-free success, you need to give the emotional side of sugar some serious thought.
Here’s a 10-step guide to get you started on overcoming the psychological and emotional side of your sweet tooth.
1. Brainstorm and get to the bottom of your sugar consumption.
Make time to sit and list all the occasions where you tend to eat sweets. Whether it’s Christmas, birthday parties, or after dinner, recognize each one and take note.
2. Are you eating alone or with others?
Identify if you’re more public or private about your sweets. Public habits can indicate a social calendar and a lifestyle contributing to your downfalls. A late-night binge by yourself is linked to self control and emotional triggers.
3. Separate events from food.
Ask yourself if the food is essential to the event and how much it truly affects your enjoyment, whether it’s going to the movies, visiting a relative, or an annual occasion like Christmas. Be aware that most people always overestimate how much they need food to enjoy special events! Make a note if there are other non-food elements of the event that you can appreciate, for example, the connection with loved ones at Christmas.
4. Pinpoint the real craving.
Often when we reach for sweets, there’s something deeper going on inside. Are you craving distraction at work, or relief from a stressful situation? Once you discover the deeper craving, you can find alternatives that will actually help relieve what you really want.
5. Find the strategies that work for you.
With the detailed understanding of your sweet habits, you can start thinking about alternatives that feed the deeper cravings, and address the specifics of each situation. Think about replacements and distractions in each context. Try a little cheese or coffee after a meal if you’re craving a treat at the end of a meal. Call a friend with your cup of tea when you want distraction between tasks at work.
6. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Habits form through repetition. Creating or changing habits requires willpower in the beginning. Be aware that it will be harder to say no to the office cakes at the start. Once you’ve done it 10 times, your response will start to automate and you won’t require as much willpower.
7. Mourn and move on.
You'll feel sad at times. You’ll feel like you’re missing out. You’ll ask yourself if you really want to do this. Trust the process, keep going and know that it fades with time. When you end a romantic relationship, it’s natural to feel sad for a period of time. It’s very similar with sugar.
8. Create a new craving for control and health.
Take pride and have confidence in your choices. Often, others can initially resist your changes because it highlights their weakness. Stick to your guns and take pride in every decision that supports your end goal,. Start to crave healthy decisions.
9. Fail and learn.
It’s a bumpy road. You won’t glide through a sugar breakup without the odd hiccup. Accept that failures happen, learn from them, and move on without another thought. Don’t plague yourself with guilt.
10. Believe in yourself.
If you do all of the above, but you still think you’ll either give in, fail or won’t be able to resist your favorite treats, you need to switch your thinking. You're as capable as anyone at doing whatever you decide, but you need to believe it.
Wouldn’t it be nice to surprise yourself and actually turn down the most tempting, delicious sweet food in the hardest situation?! Commit to this, even just once. You’ll install that "can do" attitude and have the perfect belief ammunition for next time.