I have the world’s biggest sweet tooth. I could eat dessert after every meal and at every snack. I’ve always loved sweets and would say that without my love of all things chocolate and sweet, I wouldn’t have a hard time maintaining my weight.
I used to have a serious problem with sweets. It was really part of my “all or nothing” thinking. If I had something that wasn’t a “lite” dessert, I would say to myself, “I can’t believe you just ate that! The day is ruined and you may as well just eat everything in sight.” I have worked on this negative mindset and am not at the point where I can mostly have a few bites of a rich dessert at a nice restaurant and move on without much of a thought. “A few bites of this isn’t going to make you fat” has become a phrase that I’ve really learned to embrace.
Even still, I have a lot of work to do. I have learned through books (Intuitive Eating by Tribole and Resch, in particular), websites, and discussions with friends that restricting what you eat and excluding foods you love will only make you crave them more and end in a huge binge. I couldn’t agree with this more. Taking all foods off my “forbidden food list” has really helped with my sugar cravings. When I was dieting, some foods were big “no-nos”: full fat ice cream, cookies, candy, cake, just to name a few. Knowing that I can have these if and when I want them makes them seem a lot less appealing, actually.In line with this philosophy, I tend to eat sweets when I have true cravings for them, instead of on a daily basis, like I used to. What’s interesting is that I crave sweets a lot less frequently than I really thought I would.
I’ve recently noticed that the more balanced my diet is, the fewer sugar cravings I have. By balanced, I mean having enough whole grains, protein and healthy fat. I think that many people who are trying to lose weight skimp on healthy fat. After learning not to be afraid of it, I can’t tell you how much more satisfied I feel after eating. I don’t even need dessert sometimes! I’ve also found that the more I pay attention to how full I am, the less I need a sweet ending to every meal.
I’ve cut down on my intake of artificial sweeteners, too. I used to have several packets of splenda every day: two in my coffee, one in my tea, or in my greek yogurt. Diet root beer is one of my true loves and I’m learning to enjoy it occasionally instead of daily (or even twice daily). I find that by eating and drinking fewer sweet things, I’m retraining my palate to enjoy and even prefer less sweet stuff. I never thought I’d see the day when I only put milk in my coffee, but I made it there! In my mind, the jury’s still out on if having artificial sweeteners is better than sugar. I try not to sweeten much of my foods or drinks, but when I do, I usually use splenda, so that I’m not consuming the calories of sugar.
I have also discovered the power of saying “No!” We are capable of saying “no” to those fleeting urges to eat particular things. What’s amazing is how quickly those urges pass sometimes and how easily we can forget that we ever had them. I can’t promise a quick recovery to sugar addiction and know that this is something I will struggle with over time, but I know that it is one of the larger puzzle pieces I need to figure out to help control my eating and my weight.
What are your thoughts about sugar and sugar addictions? Do you indulge often so that you feel less deprived? Or do you only have sweets occasionally? What works for you?