If you are like many people, as the month of January comes to a close, those resolutions that you made on New Years Day are a distant memory. And many were made but did not lead to action.
Change should not be tied to a special date on the calendar. As long as you are drawing breath, you can change. Today is the best time to make that change.
Meaningful change can be simple. That doesn’t mean it is necessarily easy. For example, consider the advice I share frequently: Don’t eat any sugar. It is simple and effective advice for weight reduction and other benefits, but not easy to implement. Here are some reasons:
- Many of us have the equivalent of sugar addiction. Sugar gives us pleasure. Who doesn’t want pleasure?
- Regular consumption causes tolerance. It takes more and more sugar to taste as sweet as we like because our taste buds essentially become numb to sweetness. This is a big reason artificial sweeteners are not a good solution to a sugar habit. They still feed our sweet tooth, keeping it strong.
- Withholding sugar causes cravings. This is not pleasant. The longer we wait before indulging those cravings, the more intense they become. Sound like an addict craving a drug? It is the same principle.
- Sugar is in so many foods, especially processed grain based foods. The key issue is the food’s “glycemic index.” Table sugar has a high glycemic index. It provokes a spike in insulin that is necessary for sugar to be used for fuel. But the high insulin levels associated with obesity and insulin resistance drive weight gain and inflammation in a vicious cycle that ends in vascular disease and diabetes.
Here are some thoughts about how to address your sugar habit:
- If we feel hungry, it might actually be that we are dehydrated. Try water first, wait and see if the craving goes away.
- Processed grains are quickly converted to sugar. Stay out of the aisles in the grocery store when you shop. Shop the periphery where you won’t see boxed “food” with food labels. If you must venture into the aisles, read labels and avoid products with sugar among the first 3 ingredients.
- One can live without alcohol and other drugs, but nobody can live without food. But one can live without food that is high in sugar by eating more vegetables, limited amounts of fruit and substituting healthy fats from nuts, olive oil, avocados and oily fish.
If you can avoid sugar for 4 hours without cravings, try holding out for another hour. If that fails, try a few minutes. But next time it hits, try to hold out longer and longer.
Everyone progresses at a different rate, just like other addictions. Eventually the cravings diminish and another change occurs: our taste buds become more sensitive. Natural sweetness becomes sufficient and supplemented sweetness is too much. Try it! It will take time and effort, but it will be worth it.
And remember, though many of the same principles can apply to overcoming sedentary lifestyle by moving and exercising more, you cannot depend on exercise in any amount to overcome a bad diet.
You are worth the positive change articulated by a resolution. Make it an action you repeat till it becomes a part of your new routine.
Best of health!