Licking the Sugar Habit Long Term

Sugar is deceptive.  One litte gram of sugar can spin your easily changed habit right back around to Sugar Land.  So how do you lick the sugar habit long term?

Part IV of my Sugar-Holic Story

It was the new knowledge, the fear and hope, and my personal experience (daily physical misery) that motivated me to give this whole thing a try; it was that same motivation to make it my lifestyle rather than a one-off experiment. As I went through this process I continued to learn, in fact I was so hungry for more knowledge I completed a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition.

But by far, the most influential factor to adopt this experiment as a lifestyle was the personal experience of how I felt physically and emotionally. The way I felt when consuming a high amount of sugar vs. consuming very little and mostly eliminating it was like night and day. There was no turning back. I felt SO GOOD! Sugar, in all of its forms, was simply not tempting to me in the least!

The challenges:

–I only knew how to bake sweets; I did not know how to cook real food.

–The naysayers and the teasers. Let’s just say there were several of each that tried their darnedest to either convince me that sugar was perfectly fine or that I was being ridiculous in my experiment.

–My daily schedule was all over the clock; most days were spread out with long lunch hours and teaching evening classes during the dinner hours. This required a lot of eating out or cooking and packing.

–Budget and availability of fresh, whole food were not a problem in the beginning, but became a challenge later with job and location changes. Budgeting food costs mostly boils down to critical thinking, problem solving and making choices on what we value most—I learned that I’m willing to choose my health over everything else.

–I was living in Japan at the time. Learning daily Japanese was difficult enough, but learning to read food labels in Japanese was quite a task.

–The fridge was small and the grocery store closed before I came home from work. The erratic schedule made for creative thinking to go into over-drive.

–I was so accustomed to the sweetness of high fructose corn syrup that fresh fruit didn’t taste sweet at first; and that was the only thing I was allowed to eat that had sugar—Nature’s sugar.

The tools and the team:

— I had a supportive husband who wanted to eat healthy food. Two aspects to this support are the cheerleader: “You can do this.” And the team player, “I will do this with you”–agreeing on eating the same food (rather than preparing separate meals) and not having the addictive triggers around. Finding the people in your life that will do both of these makes the process so much easier, but not absolutely necessary. (We should never give others the kind of power that makes us say, “I can’t because they won’t….”)

–Living in Japan at the time of the big change resulted in four very helpful things:
1-I had promised myself I would eat Japanese traditional food at every opportunity, so I had already gone through the experience of my taste buds adjusting to new tastes;
2-I had access to fresh foods and plenty of Japanese housewives at the ready for sharing their recipes of both traditional and Westernized dishes to practice their English;
3-Japanese restaurants and izekayas had plenty of fresh, nutritious food on the menus for when my schedule demanded eating out;
4-When there was a social gathering and sweets were offered or available I didn’t have to worry about being rude or “slipping” from my commitment because Japanese sweets are not as sweet and they are of much smaller quantities—no church potluck fellowships with 50% of the items being the likes of apple pie, cherry delight, chocolate chip cookies, and double-fudge brownies!

–I had a good salary when I started the change, so money was not an issue. It wasn’t so much that I was purchasing “expensive organic” food, but in Japan fresh fruit and veggies are less expensive than imported Frosted Flakes, but more expensive than the Japanese equivalent of Hamburger Helper or Mac & Cheese.

–My education was a huge benefit because it helped to have a good base of scientific knowledge so that I could understand the science about how and why sugar was such detriment.

–Being in tune with my body was something that I had learned by this point and I was able to listen to it. I recognized more subtleties in the way I felt physically and mentally based on what I ate. When I went home to visit my family I tried to stick to my new changes by choosing the most real food options available; but I tried not to impose my new way of eating on them and consequently ate things that I formerly ate and I clearly felt the difference physically. Pain is a motivating benefit of the reverse kind! With the negative feedback of stomach problems returning it was easier to decline culprits in social situations.

So what were the actual results of this experiment turned long-term lifestyle?
To be continued…