It takes between 21-28 or 66 days to break a habit, depending on which study you rely on.
It doesn't matter if you lapse, so long as your intention is to continue.
Like a muscle, the more we practise, the more this way of being becomes natural.
If you do lapse; keep your intention on track. Tomorrow is a new day.
Identify your challenging moments (when sugar cravings usually hit/take over) and pre-plan a distraction technique.
When cravings hit, tell yourself you will pause for 20 minutes, then see how you feel. Take note of how the craving shifts.
Rather than thinking in prohibitive terms, e.g. "I must not each chocolate!", crowd out the "bad" food with the good stuff. Just eat more good stuff.
Clearly, this whole 'Obliterate Sugar for 8 Weeks' thing has not panned out so well for me. Pretty much as soon as I had that McFlurry attack a few weeks ago (I attacked a McFlurry), my momentum was shot and I haven't been able to get it back, sadly. Excuses excuses. This past week I slipped in a few sugary treats and I was hit by/resigned to that irritating attitude of the "I don't cares!". Unfortunate, because I do actually care... I think I just lost some of that sparkle and resolve.
That's looking at it rather negatively though. On the other hand, sugar eating has definitely decreased in comparison to normal, and my whole thought process about sugar has also changed. I believe I owe that to the three weeks where I was on track. I feel like in those first few weeks, where I was shunning sugar, left right and centre (seriously, I was kicking those bad boys away like a kung fu champion, you should have seen me) I was able to make some serious mental headway: Firstly, showing myself that it was, in fact, possible to say no to sugar and then feel completely alright with your decision afterwards. I think that previously, I actually feared saying no, or even feared not buying something sweet, because I was worried that I would feel empty/like I was missing out, without it, sad as that is! Secondly, I realised that I actually enjoyed not eating sugar, that I felt a lot better without it. Now, I'm either just plain not even thinking about it (as much) or if I am, I stop and ask myself, "Do I really feel like that?" and then a lot of the time I just think, "No, not really", and then I just forget about it. No dramas, no will power required, no nothing. It's just like a simple, rational thought. And THAT, boys and girls, is where I wanted to be. And it is SO refreshing. So, overall, I am pretty happy with progress. However, few sugar mishaps this week (some biscuits here, few sips of cola slurpee there, two freshly squeezed oranges at 3am this morning...) and so I would really like to commit to another few strong weeks of kung-fu-style sugar refusal. Just to see if I can strengthen that muscle a bit more. I have just gotten a touch lazy and need to get back into that focused head space.
I am slowly, verrrrrrrry slowly, losing a bit of the fatsies (about 2.2kg so far) and that is in spite of not doing any exercise for the past month (oopsy daisy, should probably get onto that) not counting calories, eating when I'm hungry and until I'm full, and not changing any other eating habits (still eating bread, pasta, rice, full fat dairy... yes, I am the poster child for dieting).
Something I want to start doing is looking into a few of Sarah Wilson's recipe suggestions. It's odd that I haven't done this already, since I love cooking; think it has been a time/lack of organisation thing. Going to start with this Coco-nutty granola, as the Weetbix just isn't touching the sides, these days!
Stevia is a sugar alternative, and as I am starting to think about ways to incorporate some sugar alternatives into my diet, I wanted to refresh my memory on its properties. I found a brand of sugar-free, stevia-based dark chocolate in the supermarket this week; before I get addicted to those, let's see what they're saying about stevia...
Sarah Wilson calls stevia a "safe sugar alternative", and writes:
"Stevia...comes in liquid form or mixed with erythritol to form granules. Stevia is a natural alternative, derived from a leaf and contains no fructose. Most researchers deem it safe but still don't really know what the human body does with the steviol once ingested".
Not exactly comforting, is it? Now an excerpt from David Gillespie's The Sweet Poison Quit Plan:
"Stevia is shorthand for a plant called Stevia rebaudiana, a relative of the sunflower and native to South and Central America. Stevia leaves contain stevioside (300 times as sweet as sugar) and rebaudioside (450 times as sweet as sugar)... the extrme sweetness comes from the steviol; the rest is just glucose. So from a fructose perspective, there's nothing wrong with stevia – there ain't no fructose there. The big question is whether eating large quantities of steviol has any detrimental effects. Japan has used stevia as its main non-sugar sweetener (including in Diet Coke) for more than 30 years. It has been approved for use in Australia and New Zealand since 2008, and the studies done universally suggest that it is safe in the quantities we are likely to consume.
My only lingering concern about stevia is that researchers don't really know what the human body does with the steviol. They know it has some effects (which they don't consider to be significant) on insulin and blood glucose levels. The overall impression I gained from reading these reports and studies was similar to the one I expressed in Sweet Poison concerning artificial sweeteners: they seem safe but they haven't been in our diet long enough to be sure. Check back in 30 years. Would I eat a product sweetened with stevia? Probably, if I really needed a sweet hit, but I wouldn't make a habit of it".
I think David Gillespie has hit the nail on the head there: evidence is inconclusive, so I won't be forming a stevia habit.
The non-sugar alternatives that both Sarah and David agree are 100% safe are:
Glucose and Glucose Syrup (derived from plants)
Dextrose (just another name for dextrose)
Lactose (naturally occurring sugar found in milk)
Rice syrup can also be an alternative, providing the ingredients list shows that no other sweeteners have been added.
I will happily use sweet recipes made with the ingredients above, but will fee better about shelving the stevia-based recipes. Sorted!