I had someone ask me on Twitter how I managed to stop eating chocolate as a self-proclaimed chocolate lover. I will never give up chocolate completely especially dark chocolate due to its benefits. That said, I have completed 7-day to 30-day sugar-free challenges in the past. This year, I completed a 60-day sugar-free summer challenge and I’m currently attempting a 100-day sugar-free challenge (Chocolate for Christmas I’m calling it).
My aim in these challenges is to remove all processed sugar from my diet which of course includes chocolate for a specific length of time. It certainly is challenging but I’ve learnt a lot from my experiences. I, therefore, wanted to share my top 8 tips on how to stop eating chocolate for a period of time.
How to Stop Eating Chocolate
1/ Prepare Yourself
When you decide to stop eating chocolate for a period, it helps to prepare yourself for the challenge that you have chosen. That does not mean eating all the chocolate you currently have so that you don’t waste it. Rather, it’s about preparing yourself mentally as you develop a plan to deal with the chocolate temptation and cravings that you will face.
Know yourself and your tendencies too. Plan accordingly to set yourself up for success. Some people can go cold turkey when giving up chocolate, while others need to make small gradual changes. Think of it like going into the sea at the beach. Some people dive right in. Others dip their toes in and gradually work their way up until their whole body is wet.
It’s important to note that gradual changes are generally easier to maintain over long periods.
Don’t be afraid to start small with your challenge, if it’s half a day without chocolate, that’s a beginning. However, make sure that you are not delaying eating the chocolate by pushing back when you eat it. Remember, the goal is to decrease your chocolate intake (to zero) and not simply shuffle around the times that you eat chocolate.
2/ Prepare Your Surroundings
Ensuring that chocolate is not easy or convenient to grab by simply not having any around can make it easier to stay committed to the challenge. Remove all the chocolate that you have at home or stashed at work (gift it others) and start with a clean slate. “Out of sight, out of mind” has certainly been helpful for me as I created my personal sugar-free zones.
3/ Distract Yourself
This tip is important when experiencing chocolate cravings. It doesn’t help to sit and think about all the chocolate that you can’t eat at the moment. Distract yourself by taking the focus off the negative ie what you can’t eat or what you are giving up. Focus on the positives and what you GET to eat. I found that fruits became my go-to treat. I became really excited about the types of fruits that I could have.
In addition, I found that trying new activities or channelling my energy and emotions in another direction was a great way to distract myself. Occupying my mind with some other activity definitely shifted my focus, and pushed the craving to the back burner in my mind. It wasn’t easy, especially in the beginning. However, that was where I benefitted from the sugar-free zones I had created at the start of the challenge as I did not have chocolate lying around as additional temptation.
4/ Discover Substitutes & New Recipes
This tip flows on from #3 as I distracted myself with substitutes. As I mentioned, I turned to fruits when I still wanted to enjoy a sweet treat. It is crucial to note that fruits still should be consumed in moderation. Even though they contain natural sugar, the sugar content can still be quite high if you eat a lot of fruits. Not all fruits are sweet so I made sure to mix more citrus and acidic fruits with the sweet ones for balance.
Tea was also a substitute for me as I had made it a habit to have a sweet treat after my dinner. Instead of trying to break the habit, I swapped and simply started to have tea after dinner which is good for health. The additional liquid helped to make me feel full and less likely to look for something else to eat so this was a win/win.
Trying new recipes was a great strategy too. I was able to use ingredients and items with which I was very familiar in new ways. It was a great way to add variety to my diet and keep the focus off what I wasn’t having.
5/ Know your Why
Understanding your real reason for giving up chocolate helps you to dig in when the going gets tough. When I first tried the sugar-free challenge, it was more about if I could do it and make it all the way. However, after the first 3 days, the rest of the first week became really tough as my body detoxed from the sugar.
It quickly became crucial that I find a reason that truly mattered to me on a personal level to help keep me committed. Maintaining good health through eating well and exercising makes it possible for me to pursue my goals in life. In addition, there are lots of benefits associated with exercise and healthy eating.
6/ Be Accountable to Someone
This tip is really helpful and definitely makes a difference to have someone that you are sharing how you are doing frequently. This could be a person who is participating in the challenge with you. Alternatively, it could be someone else who will support you, check in on you and most importantly call you out if you start to waver.
For my first sugar-free challenge, my friend and I attempted it together. It was certainly a huge blessing to have someone who could relate to what I was experiencing and we were able to encourage and motivate each other.
I’m also part of a Facebook group where we share our fitness journeys and encourage each other online.
7/ Stay Motivated
With all the content available to us online and offline, staying motivated is easier than before. I’ve found that saving motivational fitness quotes as the background or lock screen on my phone helps me to visually and mentally focus on my health goals. Watching videos on Youtube on fitness and nutrition allows me to learn new information as well. It is inspiring to see and learn from others further along on their journey. One of my favourite channels is AthleanX as you’re guaranteed to learn something new. There are hundreds of blogs out there to choose from which can help keep you motivated and moving forward on your journey.
Then, as you gain momentum, creating a chain of back-to-back chocolate-free days, it became easier to keep going.
8/ Reward Yourself
Last but not least, celebrate and reward yourself for successfully completing your challenge. Find non-food ways to reward yourself. I’ve personally found this to be a bit easier mentally and emotionally. Also, you don’t have to wait until the end of the challenge to celebrate and enjoy some rewards. As you hit important milestones along the way, you can reward yourself with smaller rewards. Add a charm to your bracelet, enjoy a mani/pedi, purchase an item on your wishlist, the possibilities are numerous based on your interests and personality.
Make sure that you pause and take time to celebrate your progress 😀 (that’s important) then KEEP GOING!
One final encouragement– Your tastes do change when you undertake challenges like these and with momentum on your side, it really becomes easier as you progress in the challenge.