SA: Sugar Anonymous — Weening yourself off an addiction to sugar

Health & Wellness

Hi. My name is Jack, and I’m an addict. (This is where you say, “Hi, Jack!” and I raise my hands in the air as if I’m being mugged… It’s a terrible joke, especially at airports. I blame the sugar. It made me do it.)

As I began typing this last night, I was munching through a bag of candy. Today, I had peach cobbler with a scoop of ice cream. In fact, these last few weeks I’ve been particularly bad about indulging my cravings. I have a few reasons. Excuse me. Let me own it: I have a few excuses.There, I admitted it.

So, here I am, a personal trainer and wellness advocate admitting that I have a rampant sweet tooth. I struggle with it, and sometimes I win. Many other times I don’t. Let’s look at what is affecting me, and perhaps it will help you contend with your own cravings.

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I love autumn. It’s my favorite time of year! Well, I love the first part of autumn. As soon as the time changes an hour, I hate autumn. It gets so dark so early. In me this starts to trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). If you don’t know, S.A.D. is a form of depression that is triggered when the days get shorter during fall and winter. Not only are my moods compromised, but hibernation responses get cranked up. Yep, like many animals, we do store more fat during the cold and dark nights at the end of the year. Why do you think we cram so many brightly lit feasts into the end of the year? Traditionally, our ancestors needed to break up the dark and freezing days with light, laughter and lots of food.

Getting proper exercise, adequate rest and staying hydrated helps to stave off the winter blues. Also, sitrting under a full spectrum light source has great benefits when the sun vanishes earlier during winter months. Photo Credit: ulianvalentin via Dollar Photo Club.

Getting proper exercise, adequate rest and staying hydrated helps to stave off the winter blues. Also, sitrting under a full spectrum light source has great benefits when the sun vanishes earlier during winter months.
Photo Credit: ulianvalentin via Dollar Photo Club.

I also contend with an irregular appetite. Many people are stress eaters, but I’m a stress faster. When anything puts me out of order to any degree, I forget to eat. I travel a great deal between time zones, too. Between S.A.D., shifting time zones, hectic travel experiences and insomnia,I’ve got all sorts of interruptions that distract me from eating. Perhaps, you go to food to comfort you? I go to starvation. Neither are good, and both create a need for sugar. By the time I realize I need to eat, I’m famished. And that, in addition to everything else, triggers a ravenous need for energy. The fastest source of that energy is refined sugar.

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So, what can be done? If you’re struggling with depression, consciously find ways to treat and/or mitigate it. If S.A.D. is an issue for you, consider getting a lamp that uses a bulb that emulates full spectrum daylight. Try to maintain a regular eating schedule to prevent desperate cravings. Invest in getting adequate rest and sleep. Drink plenty of water. Exercise daily. All of these help.

But what about lessening the cravings? I have found that the gradual removal and replacement of sugar is what is sustainable, but even then I will go crazy from time to time. Fortunately for me, I have been disciplined long enough to be able to afford some binging from time to time. But whether you are already fit or not, recognize that you will have to forgive yourself frequently as you make tiny steps toward a long journey’s destination. Also, having a cheat day once every two weeks keeps your metabolism from slowing way down. Gradually, ween yourself to fewer and fewer cheat days, and try to remember moderation in between them. : :

info: Jack Kirven completed the MFA in Dance at UCLA, and earned certification as a personal trainer through NASM. His wellness philosophy is founded upon integrated lifestyles as opposed to isolated workouts. Visit him at jackkirven.com and integre8twellness.com. He is also a former staff writer for qnotes.

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