Have you ever tried to ‘quit sugar’? Most people have tried to quit sugar in one form or another –. Whether it’s quitting processed sugars, specific sugars like fructose, or all sugars like a ketogenic diet, eliminating sugar isn’t always easy. So why is it so hard to get rid of this one simple carbohydrate? Let’s look at why you might failing at giving up sugar.
A quick reminder: processed sugar vs natural sugars and carbohydrates
In case you haven’t read this in my previous articles, this is a quick refresher for you:
- Sugar itself is not an essential nutrient. But natural foods that contain sugar do have essential nutrients in them.
- There is a big difference between natural sugar and processed sugar. Processed sugar is refined and will spike your blood sugar levels. On the other natural, natural sugars tend to be lower GI, and have a gentler effect on blood sugars.
- Sugar is a form of carbohydrate – a simple one. Complex carbs are those found in foods like grains. Simple carbohydrates require less digestion before we absorb them. This means they enter the bloodstream quicker. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates take much longer to break down.
With that in mind, let’s look at why you can’t give up sugar – particularly processed sugars.
You’re focused on what you can’t have
When you give up something, you’re probably going to feel deprived at first. So you think to yourself ‘I can’t have sugar, I’m giving up sugar, I’m not going to pick up a sugary snack’. But what does your unconscious mind hear? ‘Sugar, sugar, pick up a sugary snack!’
The more you focus on what you can’t have, the more it’s on your mind. So you deprive yourself until you give in and eat a donut, 3 cookies and a tub of icecream in one sitting! This becomes an ongoing cycle.
You’re not replacing the sugar calories with more nutrient-dense foods
When you take a major source of calories out, it needs to be replaced. Otherwise, you’ll end up undereating, which is often followed by an irresistible urge to make up those calories by eating far too much food!
Find ways to switch sugar out for healthier alternatives. For some ideas, head here
You’re not replacing the role of sugar with other supports
Sugary foods can be very comforting and distracting. We’ve all reached for a cookie or a bowl of ice-cream when stressed, worried or sad.
The prime directive of the unconscious mind is to avoid pain and go for pleasure. Eating sweet foods distracts you from the painful emotions and releases feel-good chemicals in the body.
But sugary treats can only temporarily distract you from the situation. In fact, if you turn to sugar to make you feel better, you often feel worse when the guilt kicks in.
If you’re at the point of thinking you need to ‘quit’ it, sugar is replacing a need of some kind in your life. So if you tell yourself you’re going to cut sugar, your mind is going to rebel.
You can’t take away something that is filling a void without finding another way to satisfy that need. If you do, you’ll either quit, or you’ll find a new replacement that might be just as problematic.
I’ve known plenty of women who have quit sugar, but ended up smoking twice as many packets of cigarettes each week. Or they started spending hundreds of dollars while shopping for things they don’t need or even like!
You think it’s going to be too hard or unsustainable
Your mind is a powerful creature. If you keep telling yourself that something is too hard, it will find a way to make it that hard. The unconscious mind will hear what you say, and find a way to act on it.
It comes back to the unconscious mind keeping you away from pain. If you think changing your eating habits is going to be impossible, it will do everything it can to stop you from changing your eating habits!
Focusing on how difficult it is to give up sugar is a recipe for self-sabotage
Do you want to finally let go of processed sugar? book in for a free 15-min chat here