Two weeks ago on In Motion with RPM, I set two goals for the month of June:
- Cut out added sugar from my diet
- Practice meditation once daily
Now that we’re halfway through the month, I’m evaluating my progress. I wish I could show you graphs and stats, but I am not my husband, and math/charts are not my strong suit (I think I’ll recruit him to create some pretty charts for an end-of-the-month roundup ??).
The short of it — I’ve done pretty great with mindfulness and watching my attention throughout the day, and pretty horrible at cutting out added sugar.
Trying to juggle Headspace while switching jobs and moving? No bueno. I intend to start that up today, the start of the third full week of June (I’m a sucker for completed weeks and even numbers, like countless Americans who only start their diets on Monday).
But my sugar addiction has been another challenge entirely.
My struggle with sugar resonated with a fellow RPM reader and friend, prompting her to comment, “It’s as if I wrote the paragraph about sugar myself! I’m with ya Mariah, starting Monday it’s time to break the addiction and reduce added sugars from the diet trying to stay under 24 g’s per day. Good luck!!!”
Emily, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re off to a great start and successfully keeping it under 24 grams a day! Your comment really got me thinking — if this is something I’m genuinely struggling with, mentally and physically, how many others find themselves in the same boat?
The American Addiction to Sugar
According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, in his book The End of Dieting, “like the classic victim, we actually grow to love the things that kill us — in this case, unhealthy food. Unhealthy eating styles and food addictions have both taken control of our brains, and this addiction to certain foods is often as deadly as many other addictions.”
Did you know that regardless of the substance a person is addicted to, the brain reacts in the same way? According to researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital, a meal high in refined carbs produces brain effects consistent with those of drug addiction.
After reading a testimonial from the same book by a woman named Kathleen, she posed three questions to the readers that particularly struck me:
“Aren’t we so very fortunate that our addiction is socially sanctioned and it takes place in clean church halls, restaurants, and our very own kitchens? Aren’t we lucky that we don’t have to hide in dirty alleys to get our fixes? And isn’t it incredibly tragic that we have the same exact sort of dopamine-craving, soul-crushing, health-destroying compulsion that the drug addict has?”
How to Successfully Combat Your Sugar Addiction
Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t sugar-coat it (how punny): While most researchers believe 5–10% of Americans are addicted to food, Fuhrman believes it’s more like 60–80% of the US population. “If you’re overweight, chances are you’re a food addict,” writes Fuhrman.
His advice? Get realistic.
First, know that “quitting a bad habit initially makes you feel worse, not better.” As with any detoxification, your body will likely feel worse (headaches, stomach cramps, etc.) before you start feeling better. Learn the signs of true hunger, and don’t cave into the traditionally accepted detox symptoms that many Americans think means they need to eat.
Second, we need to beat our own brains at its game. This isn’t about willpower. Coming from a doctor who’s used his micronutrient-dense diet recommendations to cure countless patients of diseases, Fuhrman’s advice is this:
“The most effective way to lose weight safely is to give up the goal of losing weight in favor of preventing disease and living pain free later in life.”
So even if you’re not interested in losing weight, but want to kick your addiction to sugar, shifting mindsets to working toward a healthful habit rather than against an unhealthy compulsion could be the motivation needed to tackle this beast.
We’ve got this RPM readers! We’re halfway through the month — let’s take those actions today (not next Monday!)
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