A blog by runners. For runners.

How to kick your sugar habit

how-to-kick-your-sugar-habitIt’s that time of year again. The months between Halloween and Easter are essentially a dessert lover’s Superbowl every single day.

I fit this bill. I can resist ice cream cones and other summertime treats, but once fall rolls around? Forget it. My weaknesses include pumpkin pies, gingerbread lattes, Christmas cookies, and chocolate-shaped hearts and bunnies.

While I know that some added sugar in my diet is OK – runners need carbs, right? – I also know that too much is not good for my waistline, teeth, or energy levels.

So, this year I’m trying to get a handle on things before the height of the season when my sweet tooth usually spirals out of control. I’m using these strategies to curb my sugar intake:

  • Go cold turkey… temporarily. The experts say if you can make it through 3 days without eating added sugar, your cravings for the sweet stuff will subside. Think of it as a mini-detox. It will be difficult, but the payoff will be worth it.
  • Then add sweets back into your diet gradually.  After the detox period, allow yourself one small treat per day. Such as a mug of eggnog or a slice of pie, not both. Most people find indulging in sweets in moderation easier than avoiding them all together. By not depriving yourself, you’ll make it less likely that you’ll binge later on.
  • Make healthy substitutions.  Do you always have dessert after dinner? If so, still allow yourself a sweet treat, just make it healthier. Think fresh fruit rather than a chocolate bar. Or do a combination of both. If you have a small serving of strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, you’ll satisfy your sweet tooth without a side of guilt.
  • Distract yourself. Most cravings only last a few minutes. If you can occupy yourself in that time, you may be able to overcome the craving without giving in to the cookie jar. Make a phone call, analyze your training plan, or go for a run.
  • Make it worth it. If you follow the one sweet per day rule, make sure your one indulgence is something you love. Pass on the donuts in the office break-room and grab your beloved pumpkin spice latte instead.
  • Eat nutritious foods often. If you reach for sweets between meals, you may really be hungry and need something more substantial. Fill up on healthy foods instead. Eating nutritious foods every 3- 4 hours can keep blood sugar levels stable and keep sugar cravings at bay.
  • Reward yourself. Runners respond well to rewards – aren’t race medals just a grown-up version of stickers? Every day that you stick your sugar goals, give yourself one dollar. Save the money for a special non-food treat – a race entry fee, new running clothes, or a pedicure maybe? Every day you cheat, empty the jar and start over.

Are you a chocoholic, too? A sucker for holiday treats? How are you reining in your sweet tooth this year?

Written by Jen Matz