The sour side of Sugar
Most of us love sugar! But why? Is sugar really that bad for us?
Many books have been written about this topic but I'll try to answer the most common questions in this blog. After-all, this is a topic I'm very familiar with having been a serious chocoholic all my life. I’m not joking…my mom used to lock up the chocolate just because she knew that I couldn’t just have a piece of it. Once I started I couldn’t stop and before you knew it all of it was gone. I’m happy to say that I was finally able to quite about a year ago.
The average American consumes about 152 lbs sugar per year and consumption continues to increase. The reason is that sugar is simply addictive (and the food industry knows that!). In a study 43 lab rats, that were addicted to cocaine, were given the choice between that and sugar…40 out of 43 chose to switch to sugar. Wow!
What’s really the problem with sugar? For one simple sugar (or fructose) interferes with your hunger hormone, not giving your body any signal to stop eating. But the bigger issue is that sugar makes us really sick. It is linked with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, allergies, Alzheimer, ADD/ADHD…should I go on? And this isn’t even including the things we are most worried about in the short term (increased weight, aging, tooth decay, insomnia, etc).
Are all types of sugar equal? Without getting too detailed, at its simplest form all sugar breaks down to some amount of fructose. That includes honey, maples syrup, fruits and other sugars that are often labeled as ‘healthy sugar’. The impact on your body is the same but they come with a slew of other health benefits (e.g. vitamins, antioxidants, etc.) which is the reason why we prefer those sources over any processed sugar.
What can you do to quit? As with any addiction it takes lots of patience, self-discovery and tenacity to stick with it. I think the most important step you can take is to start reading food labels. Every 4 grams of sugar is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon (or 1 sugar cube). Make sure to check all packaged foods (hey, even bratwurst has added sugar in America!) and look at the serving size to understand how much sugar is truly in the portion you plan to consume. Cereals, sauces and anything low fat or fat free is typically ladled with sugar so don't assume that your favorite food hasn't been altered to appeal to your taste buds. Cooking at home is a sure way for you to control how much sugar is added to your food as you simply can't tell when you eat at restaurants.
Quitting sugar altogether is a fantastic step to improving your overall health and preventing disease but I recommend seeking out support from either a Health Coach or from resources such as Sarah Wilson (link). In her program you remove all sugar from your diet and start bringing in 1-2 pieces of fruits after about 6 weeks. But you’ll see the benefits very quickly. After two weeks your skin will look better, you will experience clearer thought, your energy level will increase and anxiety and moodiness will likely decrease.
Your executive health coach will also help you get clear about your triggers. Are you craving sugar most when you are stressed, bored, get into an argument with your kids or spouse? All these and many other reasons can make you grab the candy bar.
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