Here is my story of how I gave up refined sugar, lost over 20lbs and steadily improved my health. I have always had a weakness for sweets. Ever since I was a kid, I could not satisfy my craving. My parents attempted to keep it out of the house but there was always the local convenience store. Back then, Five cents went a long way back then to satisfy my sweet tooth with counterfuls of countless colourful treats to choose from. My grandparents and the local clergy could always be counted on to provide candy in exchange for a big smile.
In adulthood, it remained my biggest vice. In times of stress, watching movies, or as a study aid, it always was a source of gratification and comfort. While others declined offerings in favour of watching their diet, I always chose to indulge. I brushed my teeth regularly ,so there was never any perceived repercussion from too much sugar.
Finally, something happened that changed everything. When I turned 45 years old , I suffered my first gout attack. This painful metabolic disease, which is characterized by sharp needle like pain in the joints, was passed on genetically through my father who suffered for decades. I had to modify my diet. After living the next 2 years with relatively no attacks, I started to resume my bad dietary habits. My gout attacks returned with more intensity and more frequently. I cut out red meat, beer, wine and mushrooms. The attacks continued. .I considered going on medication but knew that it would be a long term commitment. I wanted a natural solution. I went back to the books. New research revealed that uric acid levels were dramatically increased by ingestion of refined sugar. I thought that was strange considering it wasn’t on the top 7 foods to avoid. I was determined to see if removing refined sugar from my system would restore my normal uric acid levels and spare me the debilitating pain of the gout attacks.
But How? My sugar cravings were enormous. I had 6 children living at home and was constantly surrounded by goodies. I could eat an entire bag of candy while watching a hockey game. I routinely had dessert with every meal. Where would the willpower come from?
My self control and willpower were limited. I knew I needed a better solution than that to rely solely on that or it would be hopeless. So I applied my method of change to this challenge and here how it happened.

1. MINDSET- After 4 successive gout attacks in 4 weeks , I was fed up. I couldn’t stand, walk or play sports with my active 8 year old son. I wasn’t going to live this way any longer. I accepted my circumstances and was committed to conquering this sweet tooth habit and restore my health.
2. STRUCTURAL FRAMEWORK- I had to design an environment to minimize my temptations. No more candy, chocolate or cake in the house. Out of sight , out of mind wherever possible. Stock up on plenty of fruit which I happen to also love to eat. Stock up on plenty of low fat milk. Stock up on fresh nuts, seeds and legumes. These would become my new habituated comfort snack foods. Set up a refined sugar free habit loop. Have the healthy snack foods present as a visible reminder(CUE) to eat them when a hunger craving comes on.
3. ACTION.- Change my palate. Change my taste for sugar so that sweet becomes too sweet. How? By progressively watering down foods that contain sugar. Eg You want to ween off sugary drinks? start with orange juice. Ever taste frozen concentrated orange juice out of a can? Pretty sickeningly sweet!
Start with watering down the juice by adding 25% extra water. Drink it for two weeks until you get used to the taste. The diluted flavour will eventually not be even noticeable . Now dilute it 50 % with water. Drink that for several weeks and once again the flavor will become accustomed. Try drinking straight orange juice after that and it will seem sickeningly sweet.

The same will work with coffee sweetener. Progressively reduce the amount of sugar supplement as you adapt to the progressively unsweetened flavour.(BTW, this formula will work with salt intake too )
Imagine how much less willpower and self restraint would be required if you stopped enjoying the taste of sugar? It’s possible!
Finally, set up a reward habit tracker. Acknowledge and track the number of consecutive days that you abstain and it will positively reinforce your mindset. Remember that the best streaks will eventually break, but new longer ones can be attained. The added bonus is weight loss, decreased hunger and a natural inclination to be more physically active.

Have a question or a story about your sugar challenges? Please share