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The sweet life: 4 steps to quit sugar and boost your health + energy levels

#Treatyoself with some natural sugars instead. 

The sweet life: 4 steps to quit sugar and boost your health + energy levels

Three years ago, I broke up with sugar.

As with any breakup, there was a period of mourning. My first week off sugar, I felt severe withdrawal. The detox symptoms reminded me of when I got sober 11 years ago—I felt sick, tired, and even depressed. As a spiritual teacher and self-help book author, I knew there was a way through this discomfort, so I looked in my spiritual toolbox for help.


Breaking up is hard to do, but worth it!

Like any addiction, sugar is not an easy one to change. Sugar has become so ingrained in American diets that we are often not even aware of how much we're consuming. Consider this sobering statistic—“The average American consumes about 20 teaspoons, or 80 grams, of sugar a day."

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And it's not just about loving the taste—“The link between sugar and addictive behavior is tied to the fact that, when we eat sugar, opioids and dopamine are released. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is a key part of the 'reward circuit' associated with addictive behavior. When a certain behavior causes an excess release of dopamine, you feel a pleasurable 'high' that you are inclined to re-experience, and so repeat the behavior."

But as good as that short-lived high may be, it's nothing compared to how good you feel when you kick your sugar addiction. Through my daily spiritual practice, my commitment to health, and my desire to feel awesome, I kicked sugar and changed my life forever. Quitting sugar was the best health decision I've ever made. I noticed instant results. My skin cleared up, I felt less bloated, my PMS symptoms subsided, and I had more energy.

As the days, months, and years went on, sugar became a distant afterthought. I no longer even crave dessert! The addiction faded away and I never turned back.

But the benefits of quitting sugar went beyond the obvious physical and mental health changes. What was most exciting was that I felt more inspired. Sugar was blocking me from creativity and flow. Once I cleared it out of my life, I had greater mental clarity and I even deepened my intuition.

How to kick the sugar habit, the Spirit Junkie way

People often tell me they want to quit sugar, but they say it seems too hard to even contemplate. I'm so passionate about this topic that I want to make it really easy for you to heal your sugar addiction once and for all. Mental clarity, physical health, and inspiration are available to you too! You'll notice a shift instantly and you'll be blown away by the results.

To help you on your own journey to kissing sugar goodbye, I've outlined five spiritual steps to support you.

Step 1—You have to want it

Here's the hardcore truth—in order to break up with sugar (and stick to it), you have to really want it. Quitting sugar isn't for dabblers. To truly kick the addiction, you must sincerely want to let it go.

The addiction will tell you that it's too hard to let go, or that you'll be depriving yourself if you quit. To help you combat these limiting beliefs, follow this simple exercise.

Write a list of all the ways sugar makes you sick mentally and physically. For instance—sugar makes me break out, sugar gives me anxiety, sugar makes me feel bloated, once I start I can't stop, etc.

Get super specific about all the negative ways that sugar affects you.

Then review the list.

When you look at the list, you'll realize how awful the addiction is, and you'll feel inspired to change. Use this inspiration to help you commit to a new mantra. Shift your thoughts from “I can't quit sugar" to “I want to break up with sugar so I can ____________." Fill in the blank. Give yourself a powerful reason to let it go once and for all.

Then recite this mantra daily as a gentle reminder that you want to break up with sugar.

Step 2—Clear permission-giving thoughts

I believe in abstinence. I've been sober from drugs and alcohol for 11 years. The way I stayed sober is that I stopped giving myself permission to drink or use drugs. Following a path of abstinence greatly supported me physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I followed the same practice when it came to quitting sugar. I took away all permission-giving thoughts like, “I'll eat sugar on my birthday" or “I'll eat sugar only on the weekends." By taking away the permission to dabble, I made a commitment to myself.

Create some bottom lines for yourself and clear all permission-giving thoughts.

Make a list of all the ways you may possibly relapse with sugar. For example—at a birthday party, at the movies, in your coffee.

Then set the intention to release these options. By no longer giving yourself permission to dabble, you create a clear path for abstinence.

Step 3—Get creative and inspired

Many spiritual teachers say that when we're inspired, we're in-spirit. Inspiration moves an invisible force of energy through us that keeps us consistent on our path toward healing. So let's get inspired by the process of releasing sugar!

I've learned that while it's really important to be abstinent, you don't want to feel like you're depriving yourself. That's why it's important to get creative in the kitchen and have fun with new natural sweeteners and treats.

Over the past few years, I've experimented with some wild recipes and healthy sugar substitutes to curb my cravings and give myself something sweet.

There are three baking ingredients that have saved me.

First is stevia. Unlike other sugar substitutes, stevia is derived from a plant. While stevia is very sweet, it doesn't add calories. You'll want to use stevia sparingly because just a good pinch can sweeten a cup of tea.

There's also a really cool new sugar-free sweetener that I'm obsessed with called Lakanto. This product is derived from monk fruit and is great for baking! Unlike stevia, you can use Lakanto in the same proportions that you'd use sugar. It also has a much better flavor than stevia.

And finally, there's good old banana. Within a month of kicking sugar, you'll come to notice that even a banana is super sweet! Bananas are great to bake with because they have a creamy consistency that makes baked goods soft and yummy.

Now don't get freaked out by this, but I also don't eat any honey or maple syrup. Both of these ingredients act just like sugar in your body.

It's time to get inspired in the kitchen. Let that cooking creativity help you stay committed to your path. The more fun you have with this process, the more empowered you will feel to stay consistent.

Step 4—Pray and meditate

The #1 reason I've been able to stay off sugar for the past three years is that I have a dedicated prayer and meditation practice. Prayer helps me turn over my addictive thoughts to a power greater than me. And meditation helps me stay centered and consistent in my life.

A prayer I used often during my sugar detox was a prayer for healing—

I surrender sugar today.

I choose vitality, inspiration, and health.

I welcome guidance on my path.

This simple prayer will help you surrender your addictive thoughts and patterns and reconnect you with the voice of your higher self. Whenever you notice yourself craving sugar, recite this prayer and expect relief.

A daily meditation practice will greatly support you as you give up sugar. Meditation doesn't have to be complicated—it can be as simple as feeling your pulse. I have a foolproof tool that is very easy for meditation newbies. I call it “Peace is in your pulse" because it helps you stay consistent with your goals and can calm you down when you want to pick up sugar.

You can do this meditation anytime, anywhere, and you can experience great benefits in just one minute. Practice it daily to help you stay clear and committed.

Gabby's 'Peace is in your pulse' meditation

1. Sit comfortably cross-legged on the floor.

2. Lightly close your eyes and focus on the space between your eyebrows (the third eye point).

3. The mantra (repeated phrase) is Sat Nam (which means “truth identified.")

4. The hand position (mudra) is simple. Place the four fingers of your right hand on your left wrist and feel your pulse. The fingers are in a straight line, lightly pressed on the wrist so you can feel your pulse in each fingertip.

5. On each beat of your pulse, mentally hear the sound of Sat Nam.

6. The final spiritual step in breaking up with sugar is to keep it in the day. Addiction recovery rooms all over the world repeat this mantra daily—“One day at a time." This is the most valuable message on your healing path.

Simply keep it in the day. Try not to future trip about the birthday cake you think you deserve on your birthday. Stay in the moment with your practice. One day at a time you can stick to your bottom line, shift your perceptions, pray, and meditate. One day at a time, you will curb the cravings, kick the addiction, and break up with sugar once and for all.

Following these five steps will give you the structure and support you need when you decide to quit sugar. Choose to see this journey as an adventure. Instead of losing sugar, you're actually gaining better physical health, a clearer mind, and freedom from an insidious addiction. You'll be amazed by the changes. Three years in, I can tell you confidently that it's worth every bit of effort.

This article was originally published on Healthline.

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This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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