I Used To Be A Sugar Addict

I Used To Be A Sugar Addict

Confession: I used to be a sugar addict. I guess you could say I am a recovering sweet tooth... It used to be SO bad. How many of you have a sweet tooth, too??

Guest Post by Sarah Martinez from A Sweet Blonde & Her Fit Life

I have been "recovering" for about a year now or maybe a little bit longer. My "cravings" for sugar and the like have been "under control" since about last October or November.

It used to be so bad that I would take a jar of frosting and just eat out of it. At a local cupcake shop, they offer frosting shots, which is just frosting, no cupcake included. That's what I would order. It was gluten free and full of sugar, just the way I liked it. Ask anyone who knows me about my frosting addiction...The struggle WAS real. Thankfully, I no longer struggle with this. Now I couldn't even handle eating that much frosting at one time. Not only have I curbed my cravings, but my pallet has changed and so has the kind of food that my body craves. Not only do I feel physically and mentally better this way, I have also seen my body composition change due to not loading myself with so much sugar.

The thing with sugar is that it sneaks up on you! There is added sugar in items that you would not even imagine. Pay attention to the nutrition label next time you are at the grocery store or check out the labels on the items in your own pantry. Naturally occurring sugar is not as bad as added sugar, but you still need to watch the amount of naturally occurring sugar that you consume and take that in moderation, as well.

Most of us know the obvious culprits: candy, soda, desserts like cupcakes and frosting, etc. However, foods like yogurt, "high fiber" or "healthy" cereal, pre-packaged oatmeals, and salad dressing have lots of added/hidden sugar (just to name a few).

The products that make me feel both angry and sad at the same time are the "kid-friendly" foods. It's as though people and food manufacturers have this expectation that kids will not eat anything that does not have extra sugar in it. Totally false! While I do not have kids, I know a lot of mothers who have been able to feed their children foods that are not considered "kid friendly" and they absolutely love it. I think it all comes down to how you approach it from the beginning. We know that sugar is addictive, so if kids are used to consuming a lot of it, they are going to crave it—cravings that then easily transfer into adulthood.

As some of you know, I participated in a Sugar-LESS September challenge with my fellow #fitfriend and blogger, Kylie Burnside! The premise of the challenge was to simply eat "less" sugar, NOT eliminate sugar completely. In the guidelines, we were allowed 2 sugary treats for the month (treats, not treat days). We were also tasked with trying to limit natural sugars and artificial sweeteners in order to focus on reseting our bodies and our reaction to sugar. I wanted to participate because it seemed like an interesting topic to focus on throughout the month and I was really interested in reading the book "Sugar Nation."

Prior to this challenge, I had not paid direct attention to my sugar intake. I had always been one to gravitate towards the "no sugar added" & "unsweetened" options. Since I curbed my sweet tooth, I generally cannot handle as much sweetness. However, as observed this past month, I was still getting plenty of extra sugar from other sources. When I started drinking green smoothies, eating whole (not processed) foods and planning out my meals, my sugar intake has seriously decreased, but as already mentioned, I had never put my primary focus on sugar, specifically.

Within the first week of September, I noticed that I had been allowing a lot more sugary treats for myself than I previously realized. I was enjoying the sweet goodness of Yogurtland at least once a week, frequenting chocolate, diving into the dessert menu at restaurants and indulging in yummy treats I made at home. While the sources of my sugar could have been worse, realistically I was having way more than I previously thought.

Does it ever seem that when you decide to join a challenge about a particular subject, that temptation rises even more than usual? It may just be mental, but that seemed to be the case for me this past month! My first treat happened on Sept 1st and it was accidentally! We went to Yogurtland after shopping at the mall when I realized, "OMG this counts as a treat." At least it was one of my favorites. My second treat caught me off guard, as well. My husband and I were out to dinner for our anniversary and the dessert menu came. They had a flourless gluten-free cake that sounded delicious, so I decided to use my second treat then. Let me tell you, though, that cake did NOT disappoint! I had plenty of temptation after that night—my husband's birthday, a friend's baby shower, more restaurant dessert menus, a cooking class with dessert. One of the hardest sugar-filled occasions was a surprise birthday party where someone brought BEAUTIFUL gluten free cupcakes, but I had to politely decline.

In general, I think it's easy to assume that we eat less than we think, whether that be number of calories, sugar, you name it. We naturally underestimate the amount, so taking time to reflect on this area of my health and pay attention to sugar intake was a very valuable experience. In addition to observing our sugar intake and "treat" consumption during the month, we were also reading the book "Sugar Nation" together. This book is so informative and really sheds light on how sugar is affecting people's lives for the worse. It covers the topic of Type 2 diabetes and its effects, as well highlights ways to more effectively manage your sugar intake and how carbohydrates play into this situation, as well.

I really appreciated that the author makes the point that sugar and Type 2 diabetes is not just something that overweight people struggle with. It impacts everyone, no matter what your body composition is physically. There were some very eye opening parts of this book, especially the explanation of how sugar works within the body. The specifics are often not talked about much in our society. People simply say, "sugar is bad," but no one explains WHY. Reading this book and getting a better understanding was very enlightening experience. I highly recommend reading it.

When it comes to nutrition, there are always lots of different opinions. However, this book provides more than just nutritional information. If you struggle with sugar or not being able to say "no" to sweets more often than not, read this book! Once you understand how something effects your body and what can happen as a result, it is SO much easier to say no and avoid overconsumption of treats. Even though my sugar intake was not what it used to be when I had my horrible sweet tooth, I was still consuming more than I thought. While not having a dessert after dinner can be difficult, it is much easier to decline when you know how that will impact your body day after day. Let me clear: this change in thinking has nothing to do with avoiding dessert because of weight loss goals, but rather because of the destructive and addictive toll sugar has on our bodies over the long haul.

We only have one body. We need to take care of it. We need to make sure it can care for us for the rest of our lives. Eating healthy, exercising and taking care of ourselves is not always glamorous or fun, but if it impacts our life for the better and can prevent horrible diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and more, I'm certainly willing to do it. How about you?

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