With an increasing number of food and drinks listing added sugars in their ingredient, it’s no wonder Whole30er’s have a name for those intense cravings for sugar so many of us experience. Enter: the Sugar Dragon. On this Whole30 Coach blog spotlight, Whole30 Coach, working mom, and sugar warrior, Emily Nichols, shares her personal journey and strategies about how to fight back against sugar with Whole30. Get ready to slay your Sugar Dragon with Emily’s tips.
Share a little about your background and what got you interested in Whole30 and then becoming a coach.
My first Whole30 was back in 2015 with my husband. I was a tired, overwhelmed working mom who dealt with stress with sugar, alcohol and had no real confidence in myself. Through many rounds of Whole30, I have found how to better manage stress with self-care instead of sugar, and found the power in giving back through leading others through Whole30. I am so passionate about helping other busy families like mine to find their way to not only their own food freedom, but also changing their mindset to live their lives to the fullest. Whole30 has snowballed into a healthier lifestyle for me in all aspects of my life and I want to inspire others to eat, move and love themselves.
You are a self-professed recovering sugar addict. Tell us a little bit about your sugar habits before Whole30.
I have a huge sweet tooth! Before Whole30, I would turn to anything sweet when I found myself stressed or overwhelmed (which happens often as a busy, working mom!) My favorite is chocolate chip cookies. There would be times when I would actually buy cookies at the store and hide them in my car so my kids wouldn’t have access to them too (which is really embarrassing to admit, but it’s true!) and the more sugar I ate, the more I would crave it. I’ve learned through Whole30 healthier habits and self-care to deal with stress or overwhelm and know the effects sugar can have on me and that it’s not worth it to me in most cases.
Some who may be familiar with Whole30 know about the “Sugar Dragon.” What was the toughest challenge for you in that battle?
I found that during my first couple of rounds of Whole30 that I wasn’t really slaying my sugar dragon completely (it was just lightly snoozing). I was using compliant date/nut bars, fruit, etc. in excess when I was craving something sweet instead of just dealing with stress in more healthy ways. It took a couple of rounds for me to realize that and use self-care instead of sweets (of any kind) when I was feeling stressed.
How did Whole30 help you change your bad habits around sugar?
Through Whole30, I figured out how to deal with stress by creating new, healthier habits when I found myself stressed instead of binging on sugar. I would have a sugar “hangover” the next day after a sugar binge and feel lethargic. I now turn to my self-care habits of moving my body, drinking tea or reading or listening to some personal development.
What does your Food Freedom with sugar look like now?
I still do have my moments when my sugar dragon starts to wake, but I have learned to take my time and figure out what is worth to me or not. I don’t feel bad having a cookie or two with my kids, but I won’t allow all the wheels come off and eat ALL the cookies. I know how my mind & body will react if I do and that just isn’t worth it to me.
As a coach, what advice can you share with those who may be new to watching their sugar intake?
Reading labels is such a big part of watching your sugar intake. So many of my clients have told me how shocked they were while doing their Whole30 by how much sugar was in just about everything and how they really came to realize how they were using sugar as a crutch for when they were stressed or just bored.
Sugar is found in so many things! What strategies do you have about for reading labels and interpreting sugar content?
One of the free resources available from the Whole30 includes a Sneaky Sugar download. I’ve used this numerous of times to help remind me of the various different names for sugar and referring back to it often on my phone while in the grocery store. Free download located here: https://whole30.com/downloads/whole30-sugar.pdf
Is there anything else that you’d like to share with the Model Meals/Whole30 community?
All by changing what I put on my plate through Whole30, I was able to change my life in so many other ways. I have learned to take care of myself first through self-care in order to be able to be the best version of myself for my loved ones. Fitness/moving my body is so important to me, nourishing my body with foods that make me feel amazing, and having a growth mindset and loving myself is all part of my identity now. Whole30 really did help me change my life!