Updated: May 22
*If you think you may be suffering from sugar addiction or binge eating disorder please contact your GP and seek professional help. This post is purely an account of my experience dramatically cutting down my sugar intake and overcoming unhealthy eating habits.*
Where it all started
Since a young age I have been dependant on sugar. Every Friday we would have fish and chips from the chip shop and I would be allowed what we referred to as 'chip shop sweets' which would consist of a regular chocolate bar. Then on Saturday I would receive what we called 'weekend sweets' this usually consisted of 3 packets of sweets such as fizzy laces, chocolate buttons, marshmallows, etc. Fizzy drinks and biscuits where staple items in our weekly shop so sugar was always within easy access too. Its no wonder I ended up developing a sugar addiction.
When it became a problem
In recent years my sugar addiction has spiralled out of control to the point where I would sneak bits of chocolate throughout the day (away from the judgemental eyes of my partner), I would hide my favourite sugary snacks so that I didn't have to share (last week I ate 3 packs of my favourite Easter cakes, each pack consists of 4 cakes) and of an evening I would sit and binge. On an average evening I would eat two share bags of sweets and one of the big blocks of chocolate like it was nothing. I used sugar as a way of comforting myself, a way to relax, I even justified it as an act of self-care.
Last night I looked down at the empty wrappers around me, craving more and feeling sick, and realised I had developed a sugar addiction. I decided to start doing some research on my eating behaviour and realised that its likely I have a sugar addiction and mild to moderate binge eating disorder. At any other time I would go to my GP and try to address the problem with their advice and support but given the current circumstances due to the coronavirus I have opted for the self-help route. I am determined to dramatically cut down my sugar intake for the sake of my own health and my family. It's time I stopped 'sugar-coating' the situation and owned up to the fact that I have a sugar addiction.
Why I'm telling you all this
I decided to be really open about my sugar addiction and the process I am going through so that I would be more motivated to stick to it. I have a history of giving up too easy, I can be very self-critical and lack motivation. The career I have built myself in the last year has shown me that with determination, passion and a lot of hard work I can achieve anything I set my mind to. With my new sense of achievement and strength of mind its time I finally focused on getting fit and healthy for myself and my family. I hope that by keeping this dairy of my experience beating sugar addiction It can be a helpful insight and positive inspiration for other sugar addicts to say goodbye to their sweet tooth and pursue a healthier way of life.
My sugar addiction diary
According to it takes between 1-2 weeks for someone with a sugar addiction to stop getting withdrawal symptoms so I am tracking the process day by day.
Day 1: I am feeling motivated, nervous and slightly anxious. I have gone around my whole house and collected all of the sugary snacks that where dotted around and put them all in a box and threw them away. I went and did our weekly shop today and have been surprised at the amount of sugar in things I never expected it to be in! I picked up a couple of sugar free treats to make myself feel a bit better.
Day 2: I have had a consistent headache, I am incredibly thirsty regardless of how much water I drink and I am very restless. I focused on exercise and drawing as a way of distracting myself. I found the evening particularly difficult and had a small portion of sugar free chocolate which helped a bit but now I am questioning if that's just cheating?
Day 3: I have woke up feeling a little brighter, the headache has finally passed but I am still feeling very restless. I have plenty of things to do to keep me busy tho and I am really proud of myself for resisting the huge amount of chocolate and sweets that surrounds the entrance of my local corner shop that I visited to get milk and other essentials.
Day 4: Things seem to be getting easier, I am still craving chocolate cake but the cravings are easing day by day. I'm still thirsty more often than usual but its not constant thirst like it was on day 2. I have come to realise that its all about will power and moderation, its okay to treat yourself to a single regular chocolate bar of an evening, its just about being sensible.
Day 5: I had a cup of tea today with just one sugar rather than my usual 2 (previously 3) and I was very surprised at my increased sensitivity to the taste of sugar. It tasted just the same as the 3 sugar cup of tea used to. I am going to try just half a teaspoon next and hopefully ween myself off completely.
Day 6: I keep myself pretty busy during the day but its the evenings where I struggle most to resist the temptation to over indulge. I decided to test myself, I didn't have anything with sugar in all day and treated myself to half a Kinder Bueno on the evening. I found resisting eating the other half very hard but managed it (just about).
Day 7: I was tormented by that Kinder Bueno all evening last night and until lunch time today. I cracked and ate the other half after having lunch. I ate it much slower than usual and was relieved that the temptation was gone and I could finally get on with my day with a clear mind. I think this just highlights the fact that I have a sugar addiction. I have a telephone appointment with my GP today and have started tracking what I'm eating with an app to help me stay on track.
After my week detox my cravings have not completely gone but they have defiantly lessened and I feel confident in my ability to make healthy choices and avoid sugar. It has taken a lot of will power and I am not out of the woods yet but the hardest part is over.
Changes I have noticed:
Skin improved and breakouts none existent
Increased sensitivity to sugar (taste, smell)
No more headaches
Increased thirst leading to improvement in water intake
What I have learnt:
It is all about self-control and moderation. Its okay to indulge in a sweet treat every now and then if you have the will power to stop yourself from reaching for more.
Although you shouldn't swap sugar for sweeteners, they can act as a tasty substitute that doesn't leave you craving for more.
A lot of things that you would assume to be healthy are actually packed full of sugar so always check the label before purchasing.
Avoid temptation by simply removing all unnatural sugar from the house, it is the easiest way of beating cravings.