The day after Valentine’s Day is usually an exciting one for me. Valentine’s Day usually results in an accumulation of some of my favorite sweet treats, so the following day begins the fun of treating myself to some chocolate and candy. A season of love shown through sweet treats is always a favorite for those with a sugar addiction. This year, though, things are a bit different.
My family celebrates the season of Lent, which begins on the Wednesday of the week that falls 7 weeks before Easter – a day we call Ash Wednesday. The season of Lent is one of the most sacred times throughout the year. During this time, we often practice sacrifice by denying ourselves something that we really enjoy or have often. People usually “give up” something during this time; something which they will only have or do on Sundays, and don’t bring back until Easter.
During my childhood I gave up the usual things: chocolate, pop, candy, screen time, etc. I tried hard, but usually ended up “swapping” Sundays for random Tuesdays when I really wanted the particular thing I gave up. More often than not, my sacrifice wound up a failure. As I got older and began to understand the season more, the things I “gave up” became more meaningful. I was aware of the purpose of this sacrifice and really tried my best not to cheat or fail.
Last year, I gave up ice cream. My absolute, number one addiction is definitely ice cream. I eat it literally every single night, and have done so ever since I can remember. Giving up ice cream was challenging, but not as much as I expected. Since I couldn’t have ice cream for dessert, I found that I would often replace it with a large piece of cake or compensate during the day with extra sweets. I made it through the season successfully, never eating ice cream unless it was Sunday.
This year, I want to really challenge myself. I made a list of all the things I enjoy the most, or habits I have created out of laziness. My list included things such as watching TV, hitting snooze on my alarm, drinking wine, and of course, ice cream. After creating a (surprisingly!) long list, I determined that the one thing I have each day, without fail, is sweets. While all of the other things on my list would be challenging, 40 days without any sweets would by far be the most.
It just so happens that this year, Ash Wednesday fell on Valentine’s Day. A day that I associate with yummy chocolates and tasty treats was the first day of my challenge to not have any. In an attempt to avoid any temptation, my husband and I celebrated Valentine’s Day on Tuesday. We enjoyed many chocolates and candies, and stored them away out of sight when we went to bed.
Giving up sweets for me will mean no form of dessert or candy in any way. I still plan to eat foods that have natural sugars in them, such as fruit or honey, but nothing that is created as a dessert. While this may seem like cheating to some, for me it will be a huge challenge. Throughout the day I have candy, cake, cupcakes, ice cream, marshmallows – you name it – on a regular basis. Obsessing over sugary snacks has been my weakness for as long as I can remember. My sugar addiction has become a way of life.
This year, I am putting my willpower to the test and embarking on what will be a very challenging journey. Today marks day one of my sugarless journey, and so far it is not too bad (but it’s only 8am;). In order to set myself up for the greatest success possible, I have created a game plan for myself. If things go awry or suddenly get very challenging, these are the strategies I plan to use.
5 Ways I Plan to Overcome My Sugar Addiction
- Create a plan for substitutes. I reflected on my regular eating habits and determined the times throughout the day at which I am most likely to succumb to my sugar addiction. Most often, I eat sugary treats as a mid afternoon snack, and at 8 pm for dessert. Not having ice cream in the evening will be the most challenging, so I spent the few weeks leading up to Lent testing out different smoothies and determining my favorites. I plan to eat a smoothie each night when I would normally chow down on ice cream, and hope that sitting down with something of similar consistency will satisfy my craving.
- Clean out all the sugary treats. Prior to the start of my 40 day challenge, I went through all of our cabinets and got rid of (or hid where I couldn’t see) any sugary treats we had lying around. Getting them out of eye sight will help me avoid temptation, and leave me with no option to give in when I am desperate for a dessert. Having no options available to feed my sugar addiction will help me succeed.
- Stock up on healthy snacks that I enjoy. Similar to the above step, once I had gotten rid of all the sugary temptations, I needed to replace them with snacks that I would be able to enjoy. Stocking up on some of my favorites like apples, crackers and cheese, and cottage cheese will leave me with healthy options when my stomach starts grumbling.
- Fill my meals with lots of protein. My sugar addiction cravings are always the most intense when I am hungry (duh, I know), so in order to avoid cravings that make me want to give up, I hope to avoid feeling hungry. The best way I know to avoid hunger is to fill your meals with protein. When I start the day with a protein filled breakfast, I am less likely to feel hungry and fill the mid morning void with snacks. Snacking less will help me avoid temptations throughout the day.
- Plan non-food related treats. Throughout the day, I most often think of dessert as a reward. I eat dessert at the end of the day when I have completed all my tasks and am ready to sit down for the rest of the night. During the day, candy serves as my reward for completing a particular task or finishing up my work. In order to help myself beat this sugar addiction, I am planning out things I can do to reward myself that don’t involve food. Things such as watching an episode of my favorite TV show, reading some of my book, reading a blog post, or listing to music. I plan to substitute these kind of things throughout the day to avoid feeling tempted to turn to food as a reward.
These next 40 days will be a challenge like no other, but I am bound and determined to succeed. At the end of the season, I do plan to return to eating desserts periodically. I am hoping that this time of sacrifice will help beat my sugar addiction so I can return to eating sugary treats on a less frequent basis.
Here goes nothing!