I feel it’s time for me to officially start the next step in breaking the sugar addiction, and according to the plan for sugar addiction outlined in Potatoes, Not Prozac, Step 3 involves:
- eating three meals a day
- at regular intervals
- with sufficient protein.
Eat Three Meals a Day
Why just three meals and not little meals throughout the day?
For sugar addicts, stopping a meal can be difficult. Having three meals a day trains the body to start and, more importantly, end a meal.
It’s easy to turn those little meals into an entire day of constant grazing and snacking. That’s not necessarily because the sugar sensitive individual is undisciplined. No, brain chemistry may be more to blame in this instance. A true sugar addict is thought to have the short end of the stick when it comes to brain chemicals such as serotonin and beta endorphin levels. These neurotransmitters help you have better impulse control and the ability to turn down sweets, among other things. Sugar sensitive individuals may have low levels of these chemicals.
Having three meals a day also teaches impulse control, which can be difficult for a sugar addict, especially in regards to sweets.
You can still eat sweets on Step 3; just move them to an official mealtime. In fact, moving sweets to meals decreases sugar’s effect. Having sugar after eating protein, rather than eating the sweet by itself, will diminish that crazy sugar high and subsequent nasty crash.
Exceptions to the three meals a day rule are those who are very active and those who are pregnant or nursing. These individuals will need what is called a “planned snack” of protein and a complex carbohydrate. The snack is planned for a certain time of day with foods chosen ahead of time. A planned snack involves being mindful of the foods you choose and eat instead of spontaneously grabbing junk food without thinking. Learning to start, stop, and pay attention can still play a role with planned snacks.
Eat at Regular Intervals
Why? To keep blood glucose levels steady, reduce cravings, and keep you from feeling irritable, shaky, and lethargic. Dr. Kathleen DesMaisons suggests aiming for about 5-6 hours between meals, but not longer than 6 hours (except between dinner and breakfast the next day). Going without eating for more than 6 hours can lead to a big drop in blood glucose levels, and that’s something we want to avoid!
Eating at regular intervals also requires you to pay attention to your body and the foods you put in it, both of which are important in healing from a sugar addiction.
Eat Sufficient Protein at Every Meal
Protein is essential in helping the sugar addict’s brain and body heal. Protein also keeps blood glucose levels steady. And it aides in the production of serotonin, one of those chemicals that is usually low in sugar sensitive persons. Serotonin is what contributes to feeling calm, in control, and able to say no to sweets.
Dr. Kathleen DesMaisons recommends a daily protein intake for the sugar addict to be between 0.4 and 0.6 grams per pound of body weight, depending on the individual, health conditions, and the extent of healing that is needed.
|chicken breast||3 ounces||20 gms|
|egg||1 large||6 gms|
|beans||1/2 cup cooked||7-9 gms|
|beef sirloin||3 ounces||26 gms|
|pork tenderloin||3 ounces||22 gms|
|tofu||3 ounces||12 gms|
|mozzarella, part skim||1 ounce||7 gms|
|almonds||1 ounce, raw||6 gms|
|peanut butter||2 tbsp||8 gms|
It Takes Time
Step 3 is stated to be one of the hardest steps in Dr. DesMaison’s program. It’s hard because each part of this step is sometimes the very opposite of what the sugar addict prefers! Therefore, it’s also important to take your time while on this step and not expect perfection right from the start. Good advice for me!
Step 3 has a lot of behavioral healing woven into it… Don’t be fooled into thinking that this part is so easy you don’t have to work on it. If you are sugar sensitive, Step 3 is the key to getting your body chemistry in balance. Give yourself as much time as you need to master it (Potatoes, Not Prozac, pp. 137,138).
The good news is that mastering Step 3 will provide noticeable, positive changes. The sugar fog will begin to lift, and the need and desire for sugar will slowly grow weaker. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe, just maybe it really is possible to be free of the sugar monster forever!