So, how can you break the cycle of reaching for sugar when emotions strike? The answer lies in finding something to short-circuit that response when you’re provoked. When you start on the eating plan in Chapter 3, you’ll find a choice of strategies designed to break the connection between your body or brain and sugar. Every day, you can take action to ease stress in the moment and help manage it consistently – and encourage yourself to become aware of negative feelings, so you can learn to manage them without sweets.
As you’ve learnt, there’s evidence that highly palatable food – chocolate cake and ice cream definitely qualify – can activate the brain-reward system. And it could be hard-wired into your head: research presented at an annual meeting of the US Society for the Study of Ingestive Behaviour reported that some people with a personality trait known as “reward sensitivity” are predisposed to be highly responsive to cues linked with pleasurable food, like TV ads. Turn the tables on your pleasure-seeking brain by creating your own “rewards card” – a list of non-food treats that give it (and you) the bliss it seeks, without having to reach for the biscuit tin. And that discovery process can be a pleasure in itself.
And you don’t have to wait for cravings to take hold before you take some time to make yourself happy. Make sure you pick at least one every day to get yourself into the habit of treating yourself without ending up stuffing yourself.
Shop for reset
Today, you’ll be shopping for Phase 1 of the eating plan. Pick out a few of the quick-and-easy meal options from Chapter 3 and start giving those ingredients pride of place in your kitchen.
Put favourite items at eye level. Place vegetables, yoghurt and lean protein in the front and centre of the fridge; your pre-popped popcorn and rolled or steel-cut oats on an eye-level kitchen shelf; your package of frozen edamame beans where you can’t miss it, so you’ll remember to thaw them out in time.
Prep foods for faster meals. As soon as you get home from the supermarket, wash, slice and peel your crudités, avocado and salad vegetables and place them in see-through containers. Boil eggs and prepare grains the night before you plan to eat them. When you get home hungry, you’ll be able to whip up a healthy meal without a lot of tedious prep work.
Hide the junk. If you live with someone who won’t be eating along with you and the plan, keep their options – especially the sweets and treats – on the bottom shelf of the fridge, on the lower shelf in your freezer and in high or low shelves in your cupboards, where you’re less likely to see them.
Don’t bulk-buy. Hit the supermarket more often and buy only the next few meals, rather than getting supplies for the week. An overload of choices at home may deplete your willpower, a Journal of Consumer Psychology study found.
You’re ready for Phase 1!
Now that you’ve identified your sugar profile and swapped the sugar bombs in your kitchen with whole, natural foods, you’re ready to start your journey to sugar freedom. The first step? Removing all sugar from your diet – temporarily, we promise. We’ll stick with you every step of the way, offering practical ways to prevent and relieve cravings and curb crankiness. The benefits you stand to gain far outweigh any short-term discomfort. Less than a week from now, your waistband will be looser, your energy higher and your mood brighter.
Just as important, you’ll have turned your diet around in ways that perhaps you didn’t think were possible. You’ll be passing up your morning pastry and coffee, kicking your bottle-a-day fizzy drink habit and eliminating those nightly ice-cream fests. That’s for starters. The sweet life is within grasp; turn the page and reach for it.