Great Britain is in the middle of a not-so-sweet debate over a sugar tax. The Guardian reported on Feb. 7, that health experts and ministry heads are pushing a sugar tax to cut obesity rates. Health crusader Jamie Oliver says a sugar tax is just one of his promised “ninja” tactics in the ongoing battle of the bulge. Obesity worldwide is growing at an alarming rate, and it looks like such desperate times call for desperate measures. Predictably, sugar tax critics are railing against the “nanny state” controlling peoples’ lives with sin taxes and junk food penalties. But those critics seem to be in denial over the fact that most of the world is overweight and obese and large part of that is due to sugar addiction.
So if a sugar tax is passed, you could keeping eating sweets, darn the torpedoes, just to stick it to the man. That’ll show ’em you’re not going to be bullied to lose weight. Or you could get out of De Nile and realize that sugar addiction is killing people. You could do yourself a favor and practice strategies to curb food cravings. You could work to break that sugar addiction before it breaks you (as it will). Here’s how.
Do a 12 Step program for sugar addiction. Seriously, start by acknowledging the power your sugar addiction has over you. Sugar, particularly processed, refined sugar, might be the most addictive substance on the planet, research is finding. You need certain natural sugars for brain functioning. But processed sugar stores as fat and manufactures a need for itself. Blood sugar spikes create a “high” that you want to duplicate. Then you comfort eat more sugar to combat the low you get when your blood sugar crashes. Using Al-Anon strategies, admit you’re powerless over candy, chocolate and sweets. Then work through the steps to begin to manage your sugar addiction.
Mind over platter. There’s one cool thing about obesity compared to other diseases. Obesity is treatable. Fixing obesity doesn’t require complicated therapies or expensive diets. Typically, all it requires to lose weight is some tweaks in eating and a little self-control.
Try a “wait and see pause.” Food cravings may be intense, but they only last a short time, about 20 minutes. Before reaching for that piece of cake or candy bar, give food cravings a “wait and see pause.” Go do something else. Distract yourself for awhile. Chances are you will have forgotten about your food cravings. If it comes back, repeat procedure. Teach kids the “wait and see pause.” Children tend to eat too quickly and then think they are still hungry when they’re not (adults, especially binge-eaters, do this too). When you eat too fast, the stomach doesn’t have a chance to send the brain a message that it is full. Sometimes the food hasn’t even hit the stomach yet. Before eating that second portion, give the food a few minutes to digest and then decide if you still feel hungry. Very likely you won’t.
The “wait and see pause” takes double bite out of food cravings. It allays the initial cravings and gives you ammunition against future ones. When you’re in the middle of it, food cravings feel so urgent. But once you experience how quickly they pass, you get better at controlling them. The “wait and see pause” can work for most all cravings and binging. For example, shopaholics can control impulse spending by giving purchases a little thought and time.
Avoid deprivation mode. Don’t cut yourself off completely from sweets. That’s unrealistic and leads to binge eating. As you deny yourself treats, your sub-conscious rebels. You sneak treats and make excuses to yourself (you deserve it, you had a bad day, etc.) You lie to yourself about how much you eat. You cheat on yourself, mindlessly stuffing candy, sabotaging plans to lose weight and ignoring weight gain. So learn to satisfy food cravings with a little of something rather than a lot. Eat slowly and savor that one piece of candy to satisfy food cravings. Tell yourself that you are full, even if you don’t really feel it. You will, in time, when the food cravings pass.
Educate yourself. To break a sugar addiction and to lose weight, amend eating habits from the ground up. Implement portion control. A serving size of candy is about 3 small pieces, not the entire bag. Practice calorie counting. Once you start doing the math that even that seemingly tiny serving size of candy has 250 calories, you’ll be more careful about mindlessly indulging.
Know thyself. Socrates’ advice works for controlling sugar cravings too. Get in touch with your body and your mind. Understand your cycles and body rhythms. Figure out why you crave sugar. Are you compensating for something–perhaps loneliness, grief, boredom or stress? Find out what needs aren’t getting met that are driving you to comfort eat. Acknowledge worries, fears and stressors, don’t feed them. Listening to your bio-feedback can curb dangerous mood-based food habits like comfort eating and heal emotional issues, too.