It was my birthday yesterday and I had the day off, woo hoo! So I baked some Strawberry & Lime cupcakes and took them into the office the day before.
On the evening I baked, I set 3 cupcakes on a plate – two for “the Dog” and one for me. J
We sang, “Happy pre-Birthday” to me, and I indulged.
Mmmm, it was good. I’m a great baker, even if I do say so myself, lol.
But to my surprise, it just wasn’t as nice ad I thought it would be. (Blame memory cravings – more about that another day). I found it too sweet. What? Me? I, who always scoffed at people who said that their tastes had changed and that they now found things too sweet? I always said that no matter what I did, whenever I tasted sweet again, boom, I’m back to liking it.
In my “Sugar Fix” days, I’d happily eat three or four cupcakes, and still find myself wanting another.
While making the butter icing, I suddenly recalled a childhood memory of Mum making my birthday cake and how I’d inhale the icing sugar as it wafted into the air….I would breathe through my mouth so I could taste it and it was divine!
These days, I can take it or leave it – I could never do that in the past. It took less than 21 days to break the back of it and less than 7 weeks to get fully unhooked, which is why my “From Sugar Fix to Sugar Fixed” Cleanse Adventure program is 60 days long. Truth be told, in the days of being hooked on sugar, I had great resistance to even the mere idea of not eating sweet things, never mind actually doing it.
Sweet does taste good. We’re primed to like the taste of sweet because sweet foods are naturally good and safe sources of energy and nutrients. We evolved in that way to enable us to find and enjoy fruits readily available in the summer. Research has shown that even newborns prefer sugar solutions to water. The long and short of it is that we’re hardwired to like the taste of sweet.
When you’re “Sugar Fixed”, you’ll still enjoy the taste of sweet, but you’ll notice it more in a wider range of foods. Your tastebuds become sharpened and more acute, so you experience the full sensation of the taste. Fruit tastes sweeter, vegetables taste sweet, even some waters taste sweet, while other foods made with added sugars taste….you guessed it, overly sweet. Bottom line: you’re satisfied more easily.
Here’s the thing.
Once you get there, you’ll be in a place of choice, and sugar will no longer have control over you. You will have ended the crazy.
Pre-Sugar Fixed, it was never me who chose, it was always my cravings, over which I had little control. I used to think how bad I was that I had such little willpower and that I always failed at sticking to my resolution. I had no idea then that our behaviour is a result of our bio-chemistry and I didn’t know that bio-chemistry is far more powerful than any amount of willpower.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that some days, you seem to have more willpower than others. How is that? Well, willpower is a finite resource. Did you know that the amount of willpower you have is a direct function of how much energy you have in your brain?
This means that it’s not just about removing temptation from your outer environment but creating both inner and outer environments that will support you in your efforts to zap the cravings. Here’s what I mean.
Have you ever read tips about cleaning out your pantry, throwing out all the “forbidden, bad” foods only to find yourself caving in later and going down to the store to get some of those very foods you chucked out earlier? Hehe, been there, done that, right? That was about creating an outer environment but forgetting about the inner environment. The inner environment is, that’s right, your bio-chemistry!
You throw out all the stuff in your pantry that you’ve been told or know that you “shouldn’t” be eating. So far so good. Then, the cravings start and you fight it. Your body is pushing you to eat the very thing you are trying to give up. An inner battle ensues and you exert as much willpower as possible. The more you do that, the more energy you use up. Then your energy stores in your brain run out, and so does your willpower. Shop, here I come! The spiral goes further. Now, it’s guilt and then trying to exert even more willpower. Before you know it, you’ve eaten far more than you would have had you not even bothered with clearing out the pantry. Oh wait, actually, most of the time, there isn’t anything to throw out of the pantry anyway because you always eat everything there is to eat in the house. Sound familiar?
Welcome to the bio-chemistry of willpower!
Acts of self-control deplete relatively large amounts of glucose. – Matthew T. Gailliot and Roy F. Baumeister, Florida State University – The Physiology of Willpower: Linking Blood Glucose to Self-Control
So, how do you create an inner environment – bio-chemistry – that results in you no longer having a biological attachment to sugar and carbs? The short answer to that is:
[Tweet “Feed your body well so that it is no longer nutritionally starving.”]
Start with these three steps.
(1) If you’re dieting, stop.
(2) Feed your body with delicious nutrient-dense food. Here’s a list of the 11 most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Guess what? Dark chocolate’s on the list.
(iii) seaweed (in the UK, you can buy Itsu Bitsize Seaweed Thins – excellent for a snack and I love that it doesn’t have any “stuff” in it – just seaweed, olive oil and salt)
(vi) potatoes (potatoes are high in sugar, but if you cook the potatoes and then allow them to cool afterwards, you are able to harness a quality in them known as resistant starch)
(vii) liver (like me and you just can’t stomach liver?? Here’s a trick – chop the liver up into tablet size, then spread them out on a tray and freeze. You can bag them up once frozen and then pop them just like a pill – no taste with all the benefit! Thanks to Chris Kresser for this amazing tip!)
(x) egg yolks
(xi) dark chocolate (cocoa)
(3) Focus on eating healthy fats, protein and fibre at every meal. I call this the Sugar Fixed Food Tripod. The protein and the fat are super important, especially for breakfast. Many people often have a sugar/carb-laden breakfast – breakfast cereals, toast, muffins. Instead, have proteins like eggs, protein powder in a smoothie, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, bacon, chia seeds, avocado, coconut oil, nut butter…of course, you could have kippers or steak for breakfast too! Or you could try these Better Than Before Breakfast Muffins.
Once you understand how you can create a supportive inner environment and work with your bio-chemistry, you can zap your cravings and then willpower is no longer required.
I’d love to know how you get on. Would you let me know?
Taste in acceptance of sugars by human infants. The Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology 1973;84:496–501
Sweet taste preferences are partly genetically determined: identification of a trait locus on chromosome 161,2,3 – American Journal of Clinical Nutrition July 2007 vol. 86 no. 1 55-63