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After I had my fourth child, I realized I was addicted to processed sugar. I don’t even have a sweet tooth! Here’s how I beat it without big dieting or lifestyle change. Post contains affiliate links.
Bacon cheeseburgers, pizza, and cheese fries. These are my weaknesses.
- pinpoint an issue
- draw out how it’s affecting you
- label what you don’t like about it
- determine areas of responsibility
- figure out how it’s showing up
- say what you’d rather happen
- brainstorm solutions
How I found myself addicted to processed sugar and sweets I still don’t know. After the birth of my fourth child I craved sugar every day. All day. I hadn’t even been out of control eating during pregnancy. After all, I don’t want to weigh myself during pregnancy. I hadn’t eaten more sugar than normal and wasn’t on a binge, I just couldn’t stop craving sugar.
And I knew it was a craving because I didn’t want real food, I wanted sugar. And while I wanted it, I also didn’t want it. The thought of eating sugar made me feel kinda queasy, and yet I really wanted it. Also, it was only satisfying for the first few bites.
Postpartum Sugar Addiction (n): When all you think about is Pop-Tarts, ice cream, pound cake, and Reese’s.
I am not a health nut nor super foodie. I do cook from scratch and we eat mostly real food, but I didn’t spend hours or days researching the dangers of processed sugar. I am actually addicted to Diet Coke and don’t plan on quitting. Even so, I knew I had to kick this sugar habit in the bud for a few reasons. These reasons included but were not limited to the fact that I:
- wanted to actually lose my postpartum weight;
- don’t even really like sugar;
- felt queasy and sick after indulging my cravings;
- don’t want to be addicted to anything except aforementioned beverage.
These tips might not work if you have a lifelong sugar addiction or a sweet tooth. They are not grounded in research either, but they helped me – an average mother of 4 – get over a postpartum sugar addiction. At 9 months postpartum I no longer have sugar cravings, can go many days without eating anything sweet, and am back to being tempted by french fries. Tempted, but not addicted.
⇒ Confident + Take Charge and Strong + Deliberate moms can likely go cold turkey, or at least stay fairly disciplined. If you want to be over this quickly, a complete sugar fast might work for you!
⇒ Fun + Energetic moms and Calm + Steady moms live in the present so it will be harder to forego the temptation and stay as disciplined. The tips below will probably work really well for you if you’re consistent.
Oh, and before I begin, these are things I did not do… I didn’t do a whole food 30, I didn’t completely eliminate all things sweet, nor did I diet or detox. Here’s what I did do.
1. I did the grocery shopping and meal planning.
I know myself. I am not tempted in the grocery store to buy unhealthy food. However, if it’s at home, I am tempted to eat it. During this time I made sure to plan my list well to avoid the culprits and replace them with better options. Also, I told people (lovingly) not to bring over junk or it’d land in the trash. Ha! Okay, not that severe, but I did try to control what came into our home so the temptation would be less.
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2. I ate applesauce instead.
Under a rock. That must be were I’ve been living the past 20 odd years because until I had my first child I’d forgotten about applesauce. Don’t. It was a lifesaver. Even the unsweetened applesauce has a sweetness to it that’s refreshing without the “ugh” feeling afterwards. If it’s refrigerated, it’s a cool refreshing alternative to a Ho Ho. When I got a craving for something I ate a mug full of applesauce and it helped tons. Also, it’s not expensive nor rich in calories.
3. I ate peanut butter instead.
Peanut butter is a super food. In my opinion. Our entire family eats it by the spoonful over here. Until my baby was diagnosed with a peanut allergy so now I abstain. However, it was instrumental in helping me get past the sugar addiction. Peanut butter is “good fat.” A good fat is basically an unsaturated fat that, when eaten in moderation, can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. That aside, it tastes good and it’s filling. When I had a craving, I would get a spoonful of peanut butter and eat it slowly. It’s tasty and – probably the best thing – super filling.
4. I drank my own concoction instead.
When I lived in the UK and then Australia, one of my favorite drinks from the grocery store was called Appletizer. It was a tad expensive to guzzle, so I started creating my own mix. Essentially 1/4 juice (apple in this case) and 3/4 carbonated water or Diet Sprite. We’ve all heard it said that drinking a glass of water can satisfy our hunger because, often, we’re actually just thirsty. When I wanted to use this strategy, but really had a craving, I’d make my own drink. Yes, I do know juice has sugar in it, but it was better than a Honey Bun.
5. And a lot of water.
I’ve long found that if I get out of the habit of drinking lots of water, I stop craving it. Then I feel bloated. When I realize this and drink a lot of water again, I instantly feel better. Then I start feeling thirsty for water. It’s a cycle, whether good or bad. I didn’t want to stop drinking all Diet Coke, but I knew I needed to do up my intake of water. This just helped me to feel better and when I felt better, I was less tempted to binge on sugary treats.
6. I gave it time and kept at it.
Personally, I didn’t want to do a 30 day freeze out. I have a 4 year old, 3 year old, 2 year old, and then a new baby. Crazy. Town. And not the time to go cold turkey on sweets. I needed my sanity intact, people. However, it was important for me not turn a new sugar addiction into a lifelong battle. Each time I had a craving, I tried to do one of the things above. Occasionally, I’d give in to a treat, but on the whole I started crawling out of the sugar addiction hole.
It wasn’t overnight. It wasn’t always pretty. But after a few months I woke up one day and realized the cravings were gone. The desire to bake cookies if there was nothing sweet in the house went away. I could eat a bowl of ice cream one evening without needing to eat one every single night. I did lose that baby weight in the process as well.
Don’t send me hate mail if you think my way is wack or crazy. It may be. But it worked for me.
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Here are some related reads on sugar addiction.
If you think my strategy was not quite strict enough, these methods might help.