That’s right, you heard me, I am an addict. Addicted to SUGAR! The sweet taste, enticing aroma, in its many forms, it all has me drooling and day dreaming for my next fix. (In this article I am referring to added sugars, not the natural sugars found in fruits, veggies and wholegrains)
How can we resist the temptations when sugar is EVERYWHERE! Literally in everything, from mayonnaise to rice crackers, you can’t run away from it. Every internal aisle you walk down in the grocery store has high doses of this addictive substance! I was in Starbucks just the other day and picked up one of their protein lunch boxes. I took a glance at the ingredients, and there was sugar in the form of evaporated cane sugar. It’s added to everything. No wonder we are all addicted, and with rising chronic diseases such as diabetes and increasing rates of obesity, we need to eat with just a little more awareness.
So how do we get addicted?
Sugar releases dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter, making us feeling relaxed and content but also stimulating the nervous system. When we eat foods or take drugs that release a lot of this neurotransmitter it can begin to reduce the effectiveness of the dopamine receptors. When this happens we will need to consume even more of the substance (in this case sugar) to get the same effect on our body, the fix. This is the same way drug addiction works. We end up taking more sugar to get this high, that we fall into its clutches and find it hard to get out!
Sugar and the Body
So in simple terms nearly all foods eventually turn into sugar or glucose when broken down in the body. We need it for energy to keep us going day to day, even when we are sleeping. But when does it become too much? Well sometimes it can be too late when you realize you have overdosed, from feeling tired after a quick sugar fix, to more worrying to symptoms of adult-onset diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Our pancreas releases insulin to transport glucose molecules to our cells for energy use, keeping our blood sugar levels balanced. The more sugar we eat the more insulin released. If we keep constantly eating foods with added sugar we will over work our wonderful pancreas until it cant keep up. This is how diabetes starts.
So what does our body do if we don’t need much energy and we still eat sugar? Well…It turns it to fat! Specifically triglycerides which are molecules that store our body fat. We convert the sugars into glucose for energy. If we don’t require the energy our body stores the glucose as glycogen in our muscles for later when we need it. Once these glycogen stores fill up with no more room, then the body converts the sugars into triglycerides….leading to weight gain and obesity.
What are the side affects of Sugar Overload?
Well, in smaller amounts, it provides us with energy as mentioned above so I am not suggesting raiding your cupboards and trashing every single item with added sugar! Its important we know what can happen to our systems when we overload or eat this addictive substance consistently.
- Nutrient deficiency – sugar depletes many of your vitamin and mineral stores rapidly!
- Weight gain and obesity
- Yeast infections – especially in your gut, sugar feeds the ‘bad bacteria’ in your digestive tract. Click here to learn about ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’
- “Time of the month” problems – terrible cramps, irregular timing etc.
- Lack of concentration
- Hyperactive tendencies – for all the beautiful mums out there, sugar should be minimized for little ones, it can seriously affect there cognitive development.
How do you know what is Added Sugar?
My oh my, the huge list of names used to disguise sugar is enough to make you give up caring…but don’t! Its important to understand exactly what you are eating when it comes to looking after your insides – I learnt this the hard way. So I have put together a list of the different names of added sugars to help you decide for yourself which foods you want in your home!
What about Artificial Sweeteners?
These are also additives to be wary of, many can be neurological irritants and affect your nervous system. Popular ones to watch out for are; Aspartame, Neotame, Sucralose, Saccharin and Acesulfame Potassium. Some of the known side affects of these compounds are mood swings, headaches, nausea and dizziness. Many artificial sweeteners are made synthetically with lots of chemicals and only a handful produced from nature. My advice here would be to avoid them and if you have a sweet tooth use more natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar 🙂
Combat those Sugar Cravings
There are many ways in which we can subside these overwhelming cravings. Eating a diet that is predominantly protein and vegetables is one way to minimise these feelings. It is known that people who have a protein deficient diet actually have increased sugar cravings. We then have some supplements which you can add to you diet that are also awesome for your health such as, b-vitamins, vitamin C and trace minerals such as zinc and chromium. Chromium especially as it plays a vital role in glucose and carbohydrate metabolism. (Always chat with your practitioner before you begin taking specific supplements to ensure you don’t imbalance your systems.)
Time for a Detox!
Give your body a rest. A sugar detox doesnt have to be over giant long periods of time, it can be a few days allowing your body to detox and clean out the toxins running freely in your system. Although it may seem daunting, the sugar withdrawals aren’t as intense as lets say a coffee detox (believe me…Ive not had coffee now for 65 days, and its still hard!!). Another bonus is its not as re-addicting as other substances, so when you reintroduce it back into your diet after a few days detox, you may find that you don’t crave it as much!
Benefits of a Sugar Detox:
- More energy
- Clearer skin
- Constipation relief
- Improved digestion
- Feeling positive
I did a 7-day sugar detox. I wont lie to you, the first day was hard. I ended up eating so much food just to pacify myself and quell my sugar cravings. However as the days went on, I felt less inclined to grab a sugary snack and stuff my face with goodies. Internally I had way more energy, it was a really noticeable difference. I didn’t feel tired in the mornings and I wasn’t falling asleep at 9pm at night either! A massive change for me was the fact I didn’t need my ‘snooze’ on my alarm anymore. I couldn’t believe it. I snooze AT LEAST twice every morning, and I know its bad but I didn’t care! During my detox I didn’t use it once, and felt amazing! I was honestly shocked! It was an eye opener for me, realising how many products had sugars in them, some of my favourite ‘health foods’!! This kind of detox can be very nourishing to your body as you will find yourself choosing cleaner foods to eat during those few days. You may even find you love the way it makes you feel and decide to continue on the no sugar train. As for me, I have returned back to eating sugar, but in complete moderation. I have decided to carry out a monthly 5-7 day detox to ensure I keep myself in check.
Sugar in a Nutshell
Consume in moderation, and give your body a rest often. Bust yourself out of sugar’s clutches and fight the addiction! We all love treats now and again, as long as we are more aware of what we are eating, we will be better off!
If you would like to see my food diary for my 7-day detox get in touch with me via my contact page. You will see my substitutes, daily meals and I will include a list of foods you can eat and foods you can’t.
Stay healthy and happy ❤
Lots of Love, Natalie