The past few days, I've had a few friends commenting the need to do something about their own sugar addiction. I congrat them, recognizing you have a problem is always the first step!
For me it took years between understanding that my cravings for sweets was a problem and me doing something about it. Maybe even decades. I somehow always knew. Craving sweets like I did was not a good thing. I also felt ashamed. How can it be that I can't control myself and eat healthy food?!?! Why do I again and again end up eating the whole 200 g chocolate bar, or the whole cookie package? Where is my self-control? It didn't really help that hubby insisted that I should just control myself and that buying home sweets shouldn't be a problem.
So what did I do at the end? The whole thing was a process, a learning curve. I quit sugar several times before I gave it up for good. I went back several times before I understood that I couldn't go on like that. Jumping in mood and in kilos every six months. Not good.
It isn't so hard to set up a goal and quit sugar for one or two months. I think many can do that. The challenge is to quit it forever.
Now, the real answer to the question of how to quit sugar has to do with changing the focus. Instead of focusing on quitting sugar, I started focusing on getting my body back in balance. Instead of restricting my diet, I started thinking what should I eat so that I do not want to eat the crappy food instead. Lucky me, the low carb high fat diet (LCHF, check www.dietdoctor.com for details) worked wonders in the beginning. It really took out the edge of my cravings. I started eating full fat yogurts with nuts for breakfast, I drank my coffe without milk and only cinnamon added, I ate oven baked broccoli soaked in cream, goat cheese and cashew nuts. I stuffed my self so full on proteins and fat (bacon and eggs for breakfast kept me going until 3 p.m.!) that there was no room for craving sugar. Bread was a complete no-no. Pasta, potatoes, and rise as well. Instead I ate cauliflor rise, and a lot of puréed cauliflor with cream. And it worked!
After a few months on a diet like that, I felt extremely heavy (but was loosing weight all the time) but my cravings were gone. I then stopped stuffing myself with the cream, yogurts, and fatty cheeses and instead turned to more vegetables, smoothies, berries (which I had avoided due to their sweet taste in the beginning), and a lot of nuts and coconut oil. I even started baking sweet stuff, unheard of in the beginning when I did not even allow myself anything remotely close to a sweet taste. I learned how to bake with dates and bananas instead of sugar, and almond and coconut meal instead of wheat flour. My body didn't seem to react like it had done before. I could still continue to feel a balance, but without that heavy and stuffed feeling that I had gotten from all the fatty dairy products.
Today I am not avoiding carbs per se anymore. I eat quite a lot of potatoes, some rise and from time to time dessert with sugar in it, as long as it doesn't contain gluten (the process involved my realizing I am gluten sensistive). And despite the amout of sugar (lactose) in milk, I still enjoy a glass of raw unpasteurized full fat milk every now and then. I still feel in balance. The focus in our family has shifted from feeling that we are worth treats all the time (read: icecreams, buns, cookies whatever happens to be "in season") to trying to stock up on really good ingridients to make REAL food sourced from local and organic farms. Eating real food three times a day has meant that there isn't really that much room for any kind of craving anymore. Lately I haven't even craved 86% chocolate anymore (might have to do something with the fact that I have started to supplement magnesium, chocolate cravings have been reported to correlate with magnesium deficiency). I haven't even craved coffee. Strange feeling. But a good one.
So as said, it has all been a process. At the beginning I was only focused on staying away from sugar, and I did it by eating a lot of fat. Today I am still eating fat, but not so much dairy, and I am a lot more focused on the quality of the food. For anyone who is starting this journey, I'd give the advice to be consistent but take the shift in stages. First, get rid of the cravings. Then, start thinking of where and what you are buying.
And I am still learning. My next challenge is to detox the kitchen ustensils from chemicals. Bye bye Teflon and plastics!