Give up sugar and change your life
Sugar is in everything in some way or another. It is present naturally in food and can also added to food as a sweetener or preservative. The amount of sugar (and sodium) is especially high in processed, tinned or packet foods. This is because manufacturers need the product to last on a shelf for 12 months or more. The sugar content is even high in savoury products.
So what is the problem with sugar then?
Excessive sugar causes not only weight gain but also fluid retention, high cholesterol, mood swings, mental fogginess, decreased energy and insulin resistance (which can lead to type 2 diabetes).
You may not consider the amount of sugar you eat to be excessive. You might be surprised how much sugar you consume though, if you kept a record of what you ate for a week and looked at the stats.
I recently gave up sugar and alcohol for the month of January as, like many other people, I had been overdoing it a bit before Christmas. I’ve eaten too much sugar my whole life so going off sugar was particularly scary for me. Even though I knew the health risks, I didn’t consider that sugar was harming me that much. Boy was I wrong.
My accountant husband worked out for me that by having 4 cups of tea a day, with two teaspoons of sugar in each, I was consuming around 14 kilos of sugar a year, just in tea! Considering I also drank soft drink and alcohol, and ate chocolate and other sweet things, this could equate to ridiculous amounts of sugar per year. Phew, that’s a lot of calories and a potential expanding waistline. That thought certainly helped me decide to go on a sugar detox.
Sugar is highly addictive so a few hours after you have eaten it you want more. This is because your blood sugar levels spike dramatically when you eat the sugar, but plummet to rock bottom when that sugar rush has worn off. This is what leads to constant cravings and the need to keep eating sugar or high carbohydrate foods.
You may have heard of low GI, or low glycaemic index, foods. These foods promote a steady and gradual release of the sugars in them, rather than an instant dump.
Eating sugar often represents ingesting the sweetness of life. Sugary foods are often the first things we reach for to feel better, lift our mood or block our feelings. This impulse is usually a very old habit that we’ve had for a very long time.
I noticed just the other week that I had been using sugar to block certain feelings. Of course, I knew theoretically that sugar numbed feelings, but I felt that I wasn’t doing this, given the amount of work I have done on myself. What I realised is that it is our ego that wants the sugar and that wants to our numb feelings. This can then create denial, the idea that it’s okay, you are just hungry or need a treat. It’s not anything more serious than that.
Since giving up sugar I noticed after one week I had razor sharp, clear thinking, immense levels of energy, stable moods and had lost weight. I am also not craving sweet foods at all, and do not feel as though I am missing out. I can eat higher levels of good fats (such as that found in extra virgin olive oil, avocado, and organic cheeses and meats) as studies show that these do not cause high cholesterol. Fat is actually good for us, although we have been lead to believe it isn’t.
Withdrawal symptoms of going on any detox can be unpleasant, but the more severe your symptoms, the more of a wake-up call this is that you need to mend your ways. Your life can be extended many, many years by treating your body like a temple rather than a trash bin.
If you want to go off sugar, try these tips:
- Keep a journal of what you are eating so you can check your daily sugar intake. Apps like myfitnesspal are great as they track food and you can see your daily intakes. An adult should not exceed 50g of sugar a day.
- See where you can start to eliminate sugar. Even small changes can make a huge impact (like my tea).
- Don’t substitute sugar for sugar-free drinks or products. Anything sugar-free, or low-in-sugar, has much higher fat levels (they have to get flavour from somewhere). Artificial sweeteners are also mostly manufactured chemicals that cause other health problems. This substitution also doesn’t address the addiction for sugar but keeps it going.
- When you feel like a sugary treat check in to see how you are feeling and if there is any commonality in times or moods.
- Read up on it. A great book is Sweet Poison, which is available in most libraries. It’s short, succinct and will give you motivation to give sugar the boot.
Sugar needs to be kept as a treat, not for every day. Once you start having something every day it easily becomes a problem. You still want to live and enjoy food, but you also want to be healthy and active as well.
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