Hi. My name is Melissa McCoy. I’m 34 years old and am a RECOVERED sugar addict. Too dramatic? Maybe. Either way, I 100% believe sugar is a powerful drug and I absolutely was out of control abusing it. I have officially been “sugar free” (I’ll get to what that actually means for me in a bit) for over 14 months and feel better than ever.
Before I answer the many questions I’ve gotten on this subject, let me first tell you that this was the fifth attempt at achieving my goal of going sugar free for one year. So if you are thinking that you’ve tried and failed and just can’t do it, DON’T GIVE UP! In this post I’m going to share everything I’ve learned from my previous failed attempts, including the 3 things that helped curb my cravings, why I went off of sugar in the first place, and most importantly, why I am staying sugar free.
I have struggled with my sugar consumption for years. I would eat a cookie. Then another. Then another. Then another. Then, because I didn’t want to gain weight, I would skip the next meal. This made for an ornery, unhappy, and unhealthy woman. Did I mention ornery? I drank soda EVERY single day. Not diet soda either, and usually with a bit of creamer added. Yikes. I LIVED for candy. All the candy. I did not discriminate in any way…jelly beans, suckers, chocolate, gummy worms, and any and every single thing in between. I LOVED sugar. I’m telling you this in case you think I have been blessed with some super human taste buds that have made this an easier process for me…it isn’t easy. BUT if I can do it, so can you.
To be 100% honest, I gave up treats because I was extremely unhappy with how I looked and felt. I had gained 70+ pounds during my 5th pregnancy, didn’t fit in any clothes, and felt tired and grouchy most of the time. I began working out 6 days a week, eating “healthy” and saw little to no results on the scale or otherwise. I knew I needed to cut the crazy treat binging out of my life and finally decided to do it. I had gone 30 days without sugar many times. I had even gone 60 days without sugar. Each time, I thought I had conquered those cravings and I would begin to TRY and incorporate a few treats back in to my life. Unfortunately for me, I could never do it. Once I started to have treats again, I was right back to being a complete, out-of-control, sugar addict. I was right back to my old ways of skipping nutritious meals and eating pure garbage with zero nutritional value. My goal was to go a year without sugar. I honestly never thought I could do it. Here I am past my year mark and have no desire to stop.
HOW TO START:
Go cold turkey. For me, I just couldn’t do the one treat a day thing. I tried. I could never stop at one. If you do have the ability to stop at just ONE cookie, then please stop reading this post immediately and go enjoy your fabulous life, enjoying one treat a day. PS: I pretty much hate you.
If you are like me, and completely addicted to sugar, you have got to go COLD TURKEY. Pick a day to start and just end it all. If you have a little cheat now and again, it’s only going to make it harder. Just plan on it sucking. It’s going to suck. You’ll have headaches and cravings and pretty much be an angry mess for at least a week. Then it will suck a bit less, and your headaches will go away, and little by little, you will feel powerful and in control. For me, it usually takes about 30 days before I can look at a treat and just not even care.
During that first 30 days however, you need to protect yourself from temptation and sabotage! Do not bake for your kids. Do not go to bachelor viewing parties. Do not walk down the ice-cream isle at the grocery store. Avoid it at all costs. Do you think a recovering alcoholic fills his home with alcohol or goes to a bar with friends? Too dramatic, again? Maybe. But if you are serious about getting your sugar consumption under control, treat it like an addiction. After the initial detox, I am completely fine being around and even baking treats. I look at it and have zero desire to consume it. So no, you do not need to live the rest of your life avoiding the appearance of sugar, just those first 30 days when your body is going through withdrawal.
HOW TO CURB CRAVINGS:
The main thing I used to help get me through that first horrific week without sugar is FRUIT.During the first 30 days, and actually even now, fruit is my number one secret weapon. It is full of natural sugar and satisfies that craving for sweetness. When you are crazy for something sweet, dip some apple slices in peanut butter. Make a delicious smoothie. Peel an orange. Try frozen grapes. Mix it up and keep “treating” yourself to a variety of fruity goodness.
Try to avoid fruit juice if you can and opt for the real deal (I don’t drink any kind of juice, but do treat myself to fresh squeezed orange juice every now and then). Of course, eating too much of anything is a bad thing. I am to the point where I do not need to eat a ton of fruit to satisfy my sweet tooth, but when you are initially weaning yourself off of added sweeteners, fruit is your friend.
My second super secret weapon to curbing that candy craving: PROTEIN BARSWhen my family is having a treat, or I just have that afternoon lull and want a sweet pick me up, I reach for a protein bar. Now keep in mind, not all protein bars are created equal. In the beginning, I definitely was consuming some secret side sugar through protein bars. Over time, I began to look for bars with low or zero added sugar. There are few kinds I like, but my absolutely favorites are ONE BARS.They have amazing “dessert” flavors and only 1 gram of sugar. My cute muscle man hubs is also a fan, which is saying a lot as he is not treat free and typically dislikes all protein bars. Isn’t he the cutest? Anyway! For the most part, I am completely over sugar cravings and in control of my diet. In the past year or so, the only time I’ve been tempted to splurge has been when I let myself get overly hungry. For that reason, I never leave home without a protein bar (or two) in my bag. They are a great way to stifle hunger when your next meal isn’t anywhere in sight, give you a boost of energy midway through an intense workout, or to satisfy a chewy craving.
My THIRD weapon against
Satan sugar is good old chewing gum.I’m embarrassed to admit, but in the beginning days I literally consumed pack after pack of gum. I chewed it constantly, who knows how many calories I consumed from gum and gum alone! I guess in a way, gum was my nicotine patch. These days, I have a piece or two a day like a normal human and it absolutely helps satisfy my sweet tooth. My favorite gum is the bubble gum flavored EXTRA and the grape flavored Orbit cubes…if you haven’t tried those, you are missing out! It feels like a candy in your mouth and has just 5 calories like regular sugar-free gum.
To sum up this lengthy post, I went off of sugar to lose weight. I’m staying off of sugar because I feel amazing. For the most part, I feel strong, healthy, and in control. I enjoy the natural flavors in foods SO much more than before. In no way do I feel like I am living a suppressed, deprived, unhappy life. In fact, I feel better than ever. Yes, eating cake, and ice-cream, and candy, is such a fun and enjoyable part of life, but I promise you that life is very enjoyable, and happy, and equally fulfilling without it. Just as refraining to use the drug that is very much available and legal in my state (and thoroughly enjoyed by many) does not give me an ounce of FOMO or sadness, living a (mostly) sugar-free life has only affected me positively.
I am not sharing this to push my life choices on anyone. In fact, my husband and children all eat syrup and jam and juice and candy, I even bake for them from time to time. In the beginning, I tried to force my family to join me, but quickly realized that forcing someone to do something never works. A few of my kids have decided to go off of treats all on their own, starting the day after their birthday of course 🙂 and John is also working on cutting out sugar completely.
I’ve found that a lot of people seem to think life is just not worth living without a treat now and then. Many people have that “you only live once, eat whatever you want” attitude. Which is absolutely fine if that makes YOU happy. But for anyone feeling out of control and wanting to make a healthier change, I assure you, it is possible! YOU GOT THIS!
**Please feel free to ask me any questions here or on Instagram! I often get asked questions about specific foods that I do or do not eat and will post those below, however, do what works for YOU and what YOU feel good about cutting out of your life.
*I do not eat any kind of candy, dessert, syrup, jam, soda, juice, etc. I do not use artificial sweeteners in my cooking or baking or in smoothies. I do not eat honey. I think I did in the beginning, but just don’t have any desire to now, so I don’t.
*Yes, I do consume natural sugar in fruits and vegetables and added sugar in breads, yogurts, salsa, etc. In the beginning, I wasn’t too worried about this and was mostly focused on cutting out TREATS. The past few months I have been cutting out flavored yogurts and other foods with added sweeteners more and more. It has been actually pretty simple to do.