Saturday, July 20, 2013

Getting unhooked off sugar and grains - broken down into workable steps

 I was typing a response to another blogger, Kari over at My Weighting Place about getting unhooked off sugar. I wanted to expand a bit on my response.
 I'm impressed that Kari is trying out clean eating ( see her original post here. Good for weight loss & maintenance and overall health. Even more awesome to get the family on board.

It's a lot of hard work to change things up, so kudos to Kari.

Okay, so for me- it really did start with food. I had to have many days (it was 8-10 weeks) of eating clean (no trigger foods, blog post about what clean eating is for me, tomorrow)

Getting unhooked off trigger foods was key. If I triggered myself with sugary or grain type foods it was almost impossible to have a clear mind for the work I needed to do. This applied to weight loss and weight maintenance. It does not end when you get to weight maintenance.

Here's a simple version of my thought processes to get unhooked. I'm reminded when I have to go to the regular grocery store and check out near the candy bars. I was soooo hooked. I won't even look at them now.  The process as a whole for permanent maintenance is not simple. But breaking down the steps in to action items can be. Make a check list out of it. Rinse and repeat.

Here's what worked for me:

0. Go back through the house and ditch or seriously sequester any junk food. If it's in my environment, chances are I'll eat it. Replace food with no sugar, no grains. Clean Eating how you define it.

1. Go to that good feeling you get and remember it with each clean meal. Say to yourself "I choose this"(I feel great!)

2. Start to pause before you grab the sugar -maybe M&M's and say "I choose this" (think "I choose diabetes and heart disease and obesity plus I'm going to feel like crap!)

3. You'll likely put the M&M's down and do something else. (think: What? I don't want those or to feel that way)

4. Go to bed each night after a whole day of eating clean and say, I feel great! I want this again tomorrow. (think, I'm hooked into this feeling and what I'm doing)

5. Wake up the next day and say, I want to feel great, just like yesterday. I choose this. I choose health and foods that make me well.  I'm so done with feeling like crap. This is a lot of work, but it sure is rewarding. I see/ will see results. Awesome!

Repeat daily, with each meal and each day. Hook together as many days as you need. Other changes will happen. The clear brain will take you far.  Super effective.

What did not work in the past:

0. I bought trigger foods into the house because I was eating them in moderation (they were in my WW points/Calorie range). Think 100 calorie snack packs, M&M's and candy bars on sale. It's very popular to eat a little bit in moderation. This thought process and my food environment kept me stuck. Sugar and grains were not effective for me to loose weight and keep it off.

1. There was no good feeling, just a sugar rush and eating more sugar to feel those endorphins that did not last long.

2 & 3  No pausing, just eating, and going back for more.  Not feeling well. Clothes don't fit.

4. Going to bed at night and feeling pretty bad and "promising" myself I could walk it off the next day, try to be good with my food, blah, blah blah. All the lies and excuses I told myself.

5. Waking up the next day tired, even more overweight and feeling really guilty about needing to get out to "exercise off" the food I ate the day before. Exercise never worked by the way. The damage was done. Eat, Repeat, Repent.  Oh and I'll make this whole grain waffle and top it with a ton of berries, low calorie margarine, and some cool whip light. And the cycle begins again.

Sugar and grains and moderation eating was not effective for me. Eliminating sugar, grains and processed food (eating clean) was so much more effective.

It is a significant and noticeable difference.
July 2004- 180 pounds
May 2013 -117 pounds


  1. Love those steps - it really took a MINDSET change for me as well as my actions. I could go through the motions of being paleo last year - but this year, it's just how I think, which makes it so much easier day to day :)

    1. It does make it easier- once it becomes second nature. So many meals, days, and now a year in a row. I rarely have to get back to that old place. Takes lots of practice and so worth it. Glad you stopped by Jeannette. I read your posts but out of time to always comment. Hope it's cooled down out there.

  2. This is such a good post, and I'm going to take the tips to heart. I think I can't have my cake and eat it too!

  3. Yeah, E Jane. That was it for me. I wanted to so much. Once I realized that and moved onto the next steps- the stuff I wanted and needed were there, waiting for me.

    I just couldn't see it when I was operating under the sugar and grain haze. It gets easier, in a different sort of way.

  4. You wrote:
    This applied to weight loss and weight maintenance. It does not end when you get to weight maintenance.

    I am adding: my food has continued to get cleaner each and every year of maintenance.

    I think there is a serious loop between (the wrong kind of) fats, salt, sugar. So moderation in one, still leads to a loop of the other two, which cumulatively is not moderation. I think that moderation thing is exactly what gets so many people stuck (as you wrote).

    Good post.

  5. Slim lady! What's your secret? Oh, wait... ;-)

  6. Well done! And do happy you documented the process. The mental process. I'm going to share with my readers. Thank you. And you look great. And I can see that you feel great.

  7. Great post, and thanks for the tips and reminders!

  8. "Eliminating sugar, grains and processed food (eating clean) was so much more effective."

    That's the way to go ..... Well done Karen, love your before/after pics you're looking great.

    All the best Jan

    PS just love the peeping turtle!

  9. Hi Karen! Super good advice. You know, I don't say the exact same words as above, but yes, this is basically the stuff that goes through my mind. It's like I tell myself a bunch of little psych ups and compliments to myself about my eating. In a way, it's incredibly similar to the self-talk thoughts I have at the gym during a super workout. And people wonder why I'm happy to watch my weight--because I'm saying all these nice things to myself vs. chewing myself out. Obviously, the nice self-comments make me happier. :D

  10. I can't eat the junk food in moderation, but I do great when it is left at the store. I also allowed for all kinds of unhealthy "foods" during my first couple of years at WW. As you say, it was allowed and I thought I'd be deprived without it. It's taken me a long time to realize that not having it means not craving it. Love your comparison pictures and the turtle too. :)

  11. I am the same way. I have to keep the trigger foods OUT. Everyone's different. We do what works for us.

  12. I NEED for trigger foods to be out of my house. Unfortunately, my mom lives with me and she has yet to give up the grains and sugary things that I TRY to go without. I am just like you about moderation. I've failed terribly with that plan but I'm detoxing (slowly) from sugar and I will just try harder to ignore the foods in my pantry. Thanks for sharing what works as it helps me see that I am not alone.

  13. I choose this. Those words really resonated with me. Thank you for your great suggestions. :)

  14. I like what you said about it taking 8 - 10 weeks of kind of white-knuckling it with the food change before you could really have a clear head and think more rationally about food. That rings true to me.

    I know I haven't been online much the last few months, but I still read all your posts and appreciate these gems you share.

  15. It is SUCH a hard habit to break. But I found that once I stopped eating sweets, candy, bread, etc, I stopped craving it after awhile. The more I'd eat it, the more I'd crave it.