Sugar is pretty insidious. Everywhere we turn, there is sugar in our modern world. And I’m not talking about the teaspoon you add to your coffee every morning or that dollop of whip cream on your dessert. I’m talking about all the added sugar to the processed/packaged foods we eat. If you look carefully you’ll find sugar in just about everything you buy that is not freshly grown. It’s in ketchup, bagels, yogurt, chips, salad dressings, bread.
The frustrating thing about this is, we become conditioned to want these foods because they have been CHEMICALLY ALTERED to be more appetizing. They are saltier, sweeter, stronger in many ways than any natural food, so your body is tricked into thinking this is what you want, what you need! And the more you eat, the more you want.
Physically, all this sugar puts your body on a roller coaster, starting with driving up your insulin levels. Short term this gives you a high, but as you well know, I’m sure, there’s always the resounding low that shows up with you feeling like crap. In addition, these excess amounts of insulin usually get stored as fat, and typically as visceral belly fat. This type of fat is especially dangerous as the Harvard Medical School states, “Visceral fat is directly linked with higher total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and insulin resistance.”
Not to mention, sugar then inhibits nutrient absorption, assuming these processed foods have any nutrient value whatsoever. The result is your body is HUNGRY! It’s hungry for the nutrients it needs to do its job. And so, you find yourself ever looking for that next hit, that next serving of sugar that will not only spike your insulin back up, giving you a false sense of energy, but your body is trying to find the nutrients it needs. And so the cycle goes.
This is not fun on a daily basis, but the longterm effects are much worse. All this sugar we are consuming can bring on conditions like depression, decreased sex drive, weight gain, heart disease and of course, diabetes, to name a few.
Below are a few suggestions for how to start kicking the sugar habit:
Many of these tips may seem extreme to you, and I can admit some of them are, but then so is heart disease. Nonetheless, these tips are first and foremost just information, something you can consider and think about how sugar may be affecting you. It would be silly to think we could all just go cold turkey on sugar, but what we can do is change just one thing at a time: perhaps cutting our soda/juice consumption by half each day, or maybe trying a new, whole food recipe instead of going out for dinner once a week.
We can certainly make small changes to our daily/weekly habits. And soon, you may find that your tastebuds have woken up a bit, maybe remembered how good fresh pineapple tastes! You can re-train your body to want fresh, whole foods again. Armed with some new insight into our food landscape you can go forth with your eyes open and make little changes that in the end, add up to good health. After all, we are not what we do on occasion, we are what we do consistently, day in and day out. Make today your day to start your journey to better health!