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7 Lessons from Staying Sugar-Free for 16 Years

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Join the Conversation. Have you thought about quitting sugar or processed carbohydrates? Name 3 reasons why.
Heart-shaped foodSixteen years ago today, I reluctantly gave up sugar and processed carbohydrates on doctor’s orders. Although ditching sweets was the last thing I wanted to do, I had no choice, because I felt utterly awful most of the time.
On any given day, I was pummeled by many of 44 inexplicable ailments, including throbbing headaches, ferocious PMS, scary heart palpitations, vicious cravings, embarrassing crying spells, and erratic mood swings.
At the time—remember this was 1998—people didn’t realize that sugar is toxic, that it can trigger heart disease and cancer; and that it can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
Despite many challenges along the way, I finally succeeded in mostly removing sugar from my life.
My sucess in letting go of my sugar and carb addiction is due to:
The encouragement of my doctor, Dr. Keith DeOrio.
Lots of support from the amazing Roberta Ruggiero, founder and president of the Hypoglycemia Support Foundation and author of Do’s and Don’ts of Hypoglycemia;
Nancy Appleton’s fabulous book, Lick the Sugar Habit;
Ann Louise Gittleman’s empowering Get the Sugar Out;
The late William Dufty’s landmark book, Sugar Blues;
My determination and desperation, because I dreaded continuing to feel so bad;
My creating own tools and tactics, which I share in my book, Beyond Sugar Shock.
Quitting sugar and refined carbs was the most empowering, life-affirming, health-promoting thing I’ve ever done. Quitting the sweet stuff made me feel reborn. All 44 of my symptoms vanished — seemingly miraculously.
As I reflect on my 16 years of being sugar-free, I realize that I’ve learned many things. Here are 7 Lessons from Being Sugar-Free.
1) Being a Sugar and Carb Addict was a Big Blessing.
It’s taken me a while to reach this conclusion, but if I’d never hit rock bottom as a sugar addict, I never would have discovered the joy, peace and calm that I now derive from treating my body with the respect, love, and appreciation it deserves.
In short, because I once flopped so badly by mindlessly, quickly shoving processed carb crap into my face, I now relish putting nourishing foods into my treasured body.
2) To Strive for Perfection is Pointless.
It’s absurd to try to be totally sugar-free all the time, because sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave, barley malt and a host of other sweeteners are hidden in thousands of processed foodstuffs, from crackers to cocktail sauce.
Even the finest of chefs tend to slip the sweet substance into their culinary creations. Rather, it’s best to aim for 80 or 90 percent sugar-free.
3) It’s a Must! Always Pack Healthy Snacks or Mini-Meals.
One of the biggest discoveries I’ve made over the years is that it’s absolutely imperative to plan ahead at all times.
Whenever I leave home, especially when I’ll be stuck on an airplane, in a meeting or out socially, I need to have a selection of healthy foods with me to ward off the blood-sugar blues, which can lead to overeating the wrong foods.
Some of my favorite snacks include cans of salmon, flax crackers, protein power, and nuts. (Stay tuned, because I’ll share more great sugar-free treats in the future.)
4) Remember: If I Don’t Eat Right, I’ll Suffer Big Time.
One of the reasons I’ve been able to stay sugar-free is that I remember how bad it can get. Cheating just isn’t worth it. It’s simply inevitable that I’ll feel horrible eating either sweets or processed carbohydrates (what I call fast carbs or quickie carbs).
For instance, eating lots of movie popcorn or corn nuts, will give me such annoying ailments as brain fog, lethargy, anxiety, depression, digestive problems, crying spells, and cravings for more of the same fast carbs.
There’s simply “no escaping the terrifying change that occurs against my will,” as I shared in Sugar Shock. “After eating quickie carbs, I become an untamable, irascible “Sugar Shrew,” a fuming, disagreeable “Sugar Monster”; a sobbing, pitiful “Sugar Crybaby”; and finally, a listless, lethargic “Sugar Zombie…
“…Alas, my dreadful, dramatic sugar-induced transformation is inevitable. As predictable as the moon rising. As sure as the swallows coming home to Capistrano at the same time every year. As expected as the crowds flocking to Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s for an annual blowout sale.”
And I’m not unique. Millions around the world suffer from mammoth physical and/or emotional turbulence after eating sweets or fast carbs.
5) When Stressed Out, Temptation Will Strike—A lot.
Over time, I’ve come to realize that if I’m under extreme stress, deadline pressure or emotional turmoil, my calm resolve will be shaken. Sure enough, at that point, fast carbs such as movie popcorn will entice me. More about that later.
6) Falling off the Wagon Is Okay; Perhaps Even Expected.
You just can’t apply the same standards towards food that you do for alcohol. Unlike booze—which you can totally skip and never drink another drop again—you always have to eat.
This means that whenever and wherever you go, sugary or quickie-carb nonfoods will abound. At times, they’ll strive to land in your stomach—or so it may feel.
What’s more, we’re human beings, which means we’re not perfect. Rest assured that there’s a tremendous freedom in accepting that despite our best efforts, at times, we just won’t eat right. That’s okay. It’s what you do afterwards that counts.
7) Real Food Tastes Sweeter & Tastier than Junk Food.
When you let go of sweets and fast carbs, you’ll discover your taste buds. Real food, you’ll find, is scrumptious and delectable as opposed to the bland, super-salty, excessively sweet or ultra-fatty taste you get when you turn to quickie-carb foods.
Plus, when you lovingly create your own dishes, you’ll be delightfully surprised at how you’ll savor the flavors.
Learn More About Me. I’m a former sugar-addicted journalist, who quit sugar on doctor’s orders in 1998. Now 16 years into sugar sobriety, I’ve created many cool tips and tools to help thousands worldwide release their over-attachment to sweets and quickie carbs. I’m also a speaker and best-selling author of Sugar Shock and Beyond Sugar Shock: The 6-Week Plan to Break Free of Your Sugar Addiction & Get Slimmer, Sexier & Sweeter. Get Sugar Shock Blog updates in your mailbox.
Join the Conversation. Have you thought about quitting sugar or processed carbohydrates? Name 3 reasons why.
Special thanks to Getty Images for the photo above. Please note that I’m not sure if can use this so please forgive me and notify me if I can’t use it, if you have the rights.

General

How to Begin to Break Free of Your Sugar Addiction: Get Spooked!

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Whenever I give talks or begin to work with new clients, one of the first questions they ask me is, “What’s the first thing I should do to kick my sugar addiction?”
One of the most powerful ways to jump on the no-sugar or less-sugar bandwagon is to get spooked and shocked.
That’s right!
Boo!
Seriously, there’s nothing more powerful than being scared to the depths of your being to convince you to quit your health-harming ways lickety split.
Back in spring 1998, I hit upon this potent technique after my doctor ordered me to quit my cherished sweets and refined carbs to eliminate my 44 ailments, from scary heart palpitations to embarrassing mood swings to annoying brain fog.
“Connie, if you keep eating so many sweets and simple carbs, you’ll continue to feel awful much of the time and you’ll probably die way before your time,” my doctor bluntly told me.
Despite my physician’s dire warnings, I didn’t want to listen.
Let’s face it, as I’m sure most sugar addicts can appreciate, bidding farewell to my edible sweethearts was the last thing I wanted to do.
How could I ever live without my beloved candies, red licorice and chocolate chips even if they were toxic?
After my M.D.’s “prescription,” I still kept eating my favorite “treats.”
But I went head first into research mode. You see, since I’m a journalist, I always want to get to the bottom of the story.
So while still shoving sweets into my mouth, I read every book I could find on the subject.
Bookcover I pored over the classic Sugar Blues by William Dufty, Lick the Sugar Habit by Nancy Appleton and Get the Sugar Out by Ann Louise Gittleman. (If you buy the latter two, make sure to get the latest editions.)
After reading these books, something inside me happened. I became frightened me to the depths of my being. I began to realize what my doctor had been telling me.
That’s when the reality dawned on me. I began to realize that:
* By treating my body so abysmally (i.e., eating nutrient-poor sweets and fiber-stripped carbs), I’d been tricking myself and acting as if every day were Halloween, a sanctioned sugar-overloading day.
* It was high time to quit treating my body like a garbage can, because being overly attached on sugar was no way to live.
* If I kept up my unhealthy sugar-eating ways, I could get heart disease, cancer or type 2 diabetes.
Then, it hit me: My sugar-eating days needed to be over. My sugar habit was killing me.
After my “A-hah!” moment, I soon made the Sweet Switch. I began to really want to quit sugar.
In effect, by immersing myself in as much anti-sugar literature as possible, I began to see that my life with sweets was no life indeed.
So my advice to you struggling sugar addicts is this: Pick up some books, scour the Internet and get scared now!
If you’ll forgive the plug, I also invite you to read my book Sugar Shock! How Sweets and Simple Carbs Can Derail your Life–And How You Can Get Back on Track.
You see, my goal with Sugar Shock! was to give you the kind of book I wish I’d had back in 1998, because not only do I see to scare you, but I also give you some tips and tactics to help you to Break Free of Your Sugar Addiction. (By the way, I’m now writing Beyond Sugar Shock for Hay House. My intention with this book is to give you The 6-Week Plan to Break Free of Your Sugar or Carb Addiction & Get a Slimmer, Sexier, Happier, Sweeter Life.)
Please note that getting spooked is the first step. After you’re shocked into action, you’ll want to start using other tried-and-true tips and tactics, too.
Feel free to run this story, but please credit me appropriately. “How to Begin to Break Free of Your Sugar Addiction: Get Spooked!” by Connie Bennett was first published on the Sugar Shock Blog. Join the End-of-Summer Tele-Party to Help you Break Free of Your Sugar Addiction in 6 Weeks. Just sign up here now

Announcements

Sign Up Now for the Great Worldwide Sugar-Out Challenge on Jan. 16

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Are you like Oprah — tired of lugging around excess weight?
Do you feel that you have no control over your sugar or carb habit?
Are sugary foods your “drug of choice”?
Would you like to get more energy, focus better, rev up your libido, get along better with loved ones and get a hot, trim body?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you’ll want to join the First Annual Great Worldwide Sugar-Out Challenge, which takes place Jan. 16.
Many of us experts are here to help you begin to lick your sugar habit.
We’re here to give you the support, compassion, information and education that you need and deserve.
My co-organizer Dr. Scott Olson and I invite you to take our challenge by submitting your comment here.
Spend time on Jan. 16 to look at your sugar issues, learn about the dangers of sugar overloading (which people around the world are doing) and cut it out totally on that one day.
Wondering what could happen if you kick sugar? Read these amazing success stories now.
So sign up here now.
Make sure to tell us about your sugar history, what a lot of sweets do to you and what you envision for the future if being sugar-free was a reality.
What are you waiting for? Join us now.
And spread the word. We want to get a huge viral campaign going.
After you sign up, mark your calendar.
Our festivities begin Jan. 16 at 12 p.m. Eastern on my Gab With the Gurus Radio Show for the Great Worldwide Sugar-Out Challenge,.where we’ll be joined by some of the biggest health and sugar experts in the country. (You can listen live or later, at your convenience, to a podcast.)
For instance, we’ll be joined by Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman, author of Get the Sugar Out; Elizabeth Abbott, author of Sugar: A Bittersweet History; Dr. Eric Westman, director of Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic; (?), Dr. Hyla Cass, integrative psychiatrist and author of 8 Weeks to Vibrant Health and Natural Highs; MeMe Roth, founder and president of the National Action Against Obesity; Dr. Nancy Appleton, author of Lick the Sugar Habit; Dr. Woody Merrell, author of Unleash Your Natural Energy; Dr. Fred Pescatore, author of The Hamptons Diet; Amy Kalafa, co-founder of “Two Angry Moms,” which is dedicated to cleaning up the school food environment; Susan Linn (?), director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood; Dr. Yvonne Sanders Butler, principal of Browns Mill Elementary School in Lithonia, Georgia; the first sugar-free school in the country; Roberta Ruggiero, founder of the Hypoglycemia Support Foundation;; Dr. Larry McCleary, author of The Brain Trust Program; Dr. Roberta Lee, vice chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel’s Center for Health and Healing in New York City; the “Nutrition Twins” Tammy Lakatos Shames and Elysse (“Lyssie”) Lakatos, authors of Fire Up Your Metabolism; and integrative medicine practitioner Steven J. Bock, M.D.
In addition, several happy, successful “Sugar Kickers” will participate, including popular low-carb blogger Jimmy Moore, who lost 180 pounds, mostly by cutting out sugar and refined or starchy carbs, and Amanda Lerner, who shed 25 pounds and got more energy, clearer skin, increased focus, creativity and a profound feeling of freedom. In addition, her cravings, depression, eczema, candida and fainting spells disappeared.
Then from 12 noon Friday to 11:59 Saturday, we’ll conduct a supportfest on Twitter. If you don’t have an account yet, just sign up at Twitter and then start following @TwitAsYouQuit.
Frustrated right now? Want support this minute? Get going now by becoming a member of my free online Kicksugar discussion group.
Remember, if you have sugar issues, this Sugar Shock Blog is your place to get news updates, information about upcoming programs and much more.
Sign up now for the Great Worldwide Sugar-Out Challenge.

Announcements

The Great Worldwide Sugar-Out Challenge: Ann Louise Gittleman, Nancy Appleton, Dr. Larry McCleary, Dr. Scott Olson & Other Experts Offer Inspiration & Information to Sugar Addicts Everywhere

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Whenever a new year arrives, millions of Americans and people around the world put losing weight, improving health and getting in better shape as top resolutions.
A group of us health experts challenge you to confront and defeat your sugar habit as a vital, potentially life-changing step to help you peel off pounds and perhaps resolve numerous health issues.
Please join about a dozen of us — authors of books about sugar, doctors and nutritionists — on Jan. 16 at 12 noon Eastern on my Gab With the Gurus Radio Show when we issue the Great Worldwide Sugar-Out Challenge.
On Jan. 16, a little over two weeks into the new year, we will invite you sugar addicts out there (you know who you are) and overweight or obese people, to either cut back or totally kick sugar and refined carbs to lose weight, as well as help your mind, moods and overall health.
We also want to draw attention to the fact that the average American consumes about 170 pounds of sugar per year or one cup a day. (By “sugar,” we mean all caloric sweeteners, including high fructose corn syrup, glucose syrup and dextrose and honey.) People in other countries take in too much sugar as well.
All of these excess sweeteners could lead to more than more than 100 health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s Nancy Appleton disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), failing memory, anxiey, mental confusion, sexual dysfunction and infertility.In addition, too much sugar can cut your life short and age you more quickly.
Among the experts who will join us for the special, hour-long Gab With the Gurus Radio Show is Dr. Nancy Appleton, Ph.D., author of Lick the Sugar Habit. Nancy — one of my inspirations — is an anti-sugar pioneer, who has been warning about the dangers of sugar since the 1970s. Perhaps you’ve seen her jaw-droppingly large list of 146 Reasons Why Sugar is Ruining Your Health, an amazing, continually expanding checklist that’s been been widely circulated.
We’ll also be joined by “First Lady of Nutrition” Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., the diet/detox expert, visionary and author of the really helpful, practical book, Get the Sugar Out: 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Sugar Out of Any Diet. (Ann Louise’s picture is at the top of this page.)