• Siri DeMarche

Hack your Sweet Tooth in time for the Holidays

Updated: Nov 18, 2019

*As always, scroll to the very bottom for a TLDR synopsis*


Between the left over office Halloween candy, the crusade of cookies from your cubicle mate, and the onslaught of sugary baked goods from your manager who has watched one too many episodes of The Great British Baking Show (shout out to Noel Fielding), it can be neigh-on impossible to stick with your wellness goals during the holiday season. After all, this is what News Years resolutions are for... right? What if your New Years resolutions didn't involve getting rid of holiday weight gain or swearing off sugar cold turkey because now you can't seem to get back to pre-holiday "normal"? You'd be miles ahead and charging full force with better focus toward your actual wellness goals, instead of beating yourself up over some extra bloat or a now harder to kick sugar addiction. We've all been there and it's ok, I'm not sitting over here on my high horse like a sugar nazi. I totally was the person who could not stop at one cookie (more like pumpkin pie slices with whipped cream), forever thinking my young age would battle the lasting effects that sugar had on my body and brain. LOL. Plain and simple, there is no excuse to over-consume sugar; "but Siri it's the holidays, we're supposed to be stock full of sugar, how will I participate in the season if I'm not?" Boohoo 1) you can still participate 2) just because everyone else is brimming to their eyeballs with sugar doesn't mean you have to be. "I'm young, sugar won't affect me that much." NO. But Often the fear of offending a coworker by refusing a sampling of their sister's famous Florentine Lace cookies, or simply not trusting your willpower to only have just one, can be enough to send your holiday wellness or diet ambitions soaring out the window. If you clicked to read this post, I'm assuming you're curious about decreasing your holiday sugar intake and maybe have tried to do so in the past. Or you're a troll and don't give a flying rat's a** about the dangers of sugar consumption, but hey I won't say no to a page view- give it a like while you're here :)



A few important things before we get started....

  • I'm not implying that you can't have a single cookie during the holidays or your mom's famous apple pie. Maybe you just don't eat the whole batch or an entire half of the pie. Just a thought. Remember I've been there and it sucks feeling helpless against the draw of sugar.

  • "The Holidays" are not an excuse to WAY over indulge. A little? Fine. But you aren't being hijacked by a mind-controlling robot, so take control. That being said, you are being (wo)man handled by some ancient bacteria, but this is totally hackable (read here).

  • This is not a Follow these five steps and all your sugar avoidance dreams will come true.

  • You can still enjoy the holiday season without the overindulgence and without the guilt or shame of slipping up. Progress over Perfection-Every.Single.Time. As long as you get back on the wagon, a step is a step forward. No matter how small.

  • Keep in mind that sugar is a drug, in fact it is the number one recreational drug of choice. It is highly addictive and lights up the reward and craving centers of your brain. When you cut it out, you will experience withdrawal symptoms like irritability, headaches, intense cravings...etc. Hence why this post is being written BEFORE the holidays really hit us hard, so that you can be prepared and not be a grumpy grouch over the Thanksgiving table when your grandparents ask if you're married yet.

  • Rewiring your brain in the presence of sugar withdrawal is hard. It's gonna take a hot sec, give yourself some grace.


Below is an accumulation of what as helped me beat my own sugar addiction and also what has proven helpful to folks that I've worked with. Take what works for you, leave what doesn't. As always, feel free to message me for some additional help :)



Really focus and prioritize real foods & increase healthy fat intake

By consuming real foods, you're feeding your body & brain nutrients that optimize proper functioning. When you focus on eating nutrient-dense foods over processed and sugar laden alternatives, you're giving yourself the fuel it needs to decline those extra cookies, get better sleep, think more clearly, be a nicer human...etc. It's not about willpower, it's about being properly fueled so that your sub-cellular components are not screaming at you for that quick hit of processed sugar (read more here). Sugar (and carbs in general) cause a glucose spike and crash that will leave you with cravings a short while later. No, I'm not saying to ditch the carbs. But definitely ditch the overly processed carbs that will not only leave you with cravings, but wreck your cells and future health. High-quality fats are crucial because they do not cause the blood sugar spikes & crashes that sugar and carbs do. High-quality fats will keep you full for hours while keeping your cravings at bay, making it easier to avoid sugar & break out of the cycle of eating too much sugar to fulfill a craving (only to crash and need more a bit later). It might take a couple weeks for your body to adapt to a higher fat diet, but by the time it does your sugar cravings will have substantially decreased. Increasing your intake of nutrient dense foods and high-quality fats decreases your blood sugar spikes and consequent hangy irritability.

Added bonus: consuming real foods means you can't rely on packaged convenient foods with all kinds of nasty things, and therefore (hopefully) will push you to prepare more foods at home. By making your own food, you avoid potential preservatives and hidden unnatural additives that screw up your tastebuds and set what you consider to be "sweet" unnaturally high. This makes it harder to listen to your body's natural cues. I am more than happy to provide you with some super easy quick recipes and help you transition into meal prepping (if it's not something that you normally schedule time to do). If you tend to mostly eat out, I am happy to provide you with some useful tips to avoid extra sugar in the dishes that you order or items that you buy.


Substitute Bangin' Alternatives that don't taste like cardboard

Hell no is it realistic to ditch the sugar and processed carbs all together cold turkey right before the holidays. So unless you're in deep meditation for 20+hrs a day, I don't suggest this. Rather, substitute less havoc-wreaking ingredients to recreate your favorites-*shameless plug for Habitually Holistic recipes.* Not only is it easier to transition off sugar/processed carbs when you have something to swap it out for, but you never know which coworkers have dietary restrictions or are secretly wishing they had an alternative that wasn't laden with brain-fog inducing pit falls. Be the office hero.



Find an accountability buddy (or coach *another shameless plug for Habitually Holistic*)

Going after a goal with a friend can increase the likelihood of meeting that goal by 65%. Better yet, if you have someone that you are accountable to and with a specific accountability appointment, your chances of meeting and surpassing that goal increase by 95%. We are social creatures and nothing lights a fire under our bums like having someone rely on us for our dedication in reaching a shared goal and vice versa. Share the load and simplify your life.

-->Use promo code Neighborhood30 for 30%off all Habitually Holistic coaching packages. Offer expires 12.08.2019<--


Get Plenty of Sleep & Sunshine

Sleep affects your appetite by modulating your body's energy expenditure and release of specific hormones. Sleep loss affects the regulation of these hormones, increasing the likelihood of excessive food intake and cravings. Ever notice that when you're tired, no amount of food seems able to fill you up? When you're tired, you naturally reach for high-caloric and high-sugar foods in an effort to wake yourself up. Does it ever actually work? Hardly. Maybe for like two seconds before the inevitable crash hits. In addition, shorter days in the winter means less sunshine- which can negatively impact sleep quality. This change can significantly affect your circadian rhythm (your body's natural wake-sleep cycle). Getting enough Vitamin D (best absorbed through the skin from the sun) helps to regulate your hormones & therefore helps to keep your sugar cravings at bay as well.

Some tips to get better sleep:

-Limit blue light exposure (phone, kindle, tablet, laptop screens, street lights...). Too much blue light messes with your brain's melatonin production. Blue light signals to your body that it's time to wake up. This means that when you go pee in the middle of the night, do NOT look at your phone and try NOT to turn on the lights. If you do, you can say goodbye to slipping back into deep restorative sleep. What can you do? Darken your room (blackout curtains if you can get them), unplug electronics in the bedroom, wear blue light blocking glasses, and turn off electronics two hours before bed.

-Stop eating within three hours of going to bed. Sleeping is for recovery and restoration, not for digesting your food.

-Your brain is the fattest organ in your body. High-quality fats nourish your brain to repair itself while you sleep, helping you to sleep better in the process. Oooooo full circle here with the high-quality fats. JUST.EAT.THEM. Message me if you need some ideas for how to incorporate more into your diet (many of my other blog posts include ideas as well).

-Sleep with your head at an incline. This will allow your brain to flush debris that has built up during the day (glymphatic drainage), with the help of gravity to pull it away from the brain. A better functioning brain--->easier to resist those office sweets :)


Exercise

Keep your body moving to help fight off sugar cravings. The endorphins released when you exercise help to counteract cravings for highly processed carbs and sugars that will not properly fuel you.


Avoid your Triggers

This may be hard to do at the office, when you can't control what other people bring in during the holiday season. But you can control how you react and, with the above steps, hopefully be less inclined to binge on the entire tubberware of Sally's gingerbread pastries. At home you can control what gets brought into your house (mostly) through what you allow to remain in your kitchen cupboards. That being said, just don't keep the sugary trigger foods in your house. Inevitably, after trying to avoid them long enough, you will eat them when an insquashable craving hits. Don't keep them around, force yourself to sit with your cravings (or drink a glass of water) until they pass. By sitting with your cravings and not giving into to them, you are building confidence with yourself that you can do so- making it easier to have just one cookie at the office if you want it.


Decrease or Remove other Stressors from your life

When attempting to make a big lifestyle switch, remove other stressors that might get in the way. If you're stressed at work, not sleeping well at night, maxing out at the gym, having fights with your significant other.. it's gonna be pretty dang hard to remove sugar. If you currently consume too much sugar or processed carbs ( i.e. it's a habit) when other areas of your life get stressful, it'll be too easy to fall back into your habits and go-to chocolate comfort.


So there you have it, just a few tricks to get you ready for the holiday season. Of course, I am always here as a resource if you'd like more tips or need a little extra help kickin' your sugar habit. If sugar addiction is something that you are serious about beating, it is a commitment and one that will only bring you better health. We have a serious epidemic on our hands, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a treat now and again. Just be mindful about it and don't sweat it like crazy if you do slip up. Acknowledge it and then hop back on the wagon. Small steps in the right direction are still steps in the right direction. Plus- the more you stress out about slipping up, the more cortisol is going to flood your system, making it harder to get back in the driver's seat of the (mostly) anti-sugar wagon. But the more you do hop back into the driver's seat, the more you build the mental fortitude and confidence and that you can. Over time it becomes easier.


At the turn of the century, the average American was consuming five pounds of sugar per year. Now, the average American consumes fifty pounds of sugar per year. The American population is now more obese than overweight. Don't be a statistic.


TLDR

Sugar is hard to avoid during the holidays. That being said, the holidays are not an excuse to throw your wellness goals to the wind and consume all sugar insight. Decreasing your sugar intake is a process and not a quick fix. But it is a process that will only better your current and future health. Some helpful tips to decrease your consumption of sugar in seemingly unavoidable situations (like office parties) include;

Really focus and prioritize real foods & increase healthy fat intake Substitute Bangin' Alternatives that don't taste like cardboard

Find an accountability buddy (or coach *shameless plug for Habitually Holistic*) Get Plenty of Sleep & Sunshine

Exercise

Avoid your Triggers Decrease or Remove other Stressors from your life


At the turn of the century, the average American was consuming five pounds of sugar per year. Now, the average American consumes fifty pounds of sugar per year. The American population is now more obese than overweight. Don't be a statistic.



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