We all on occasion need that jolt of the sweetness like a mocha latte to get us kick started in the morning. You’re frantically searching in the office lunchroom for a sweet fix around 3PM every single day. You grab a high sucrose energy drink so you can make it through your evening drive home.
What these have in common is that they’re fulfilling your need for a sugar fix, which may appear like a simple harmless habit, but, they can potentially be “red flag” signals for some type of a sugar addiction which may be sabotaging your health.
The biggest problem in this fast paced lifestyle that we live in is that we’re consuming a lot more sugar than ever before. Eating processed foods alone adds an additional 150 pounds or so of sugar to our diets every year.
Our bodies however are simply not designed or internally equipped to absorb these massive amounts of sweetness, and there are numerous studies to support this claim. One recent publication revealed that absorbing these large amounts of sugar triples the risk of having lower HDL, which is the “bad” cholesterol and a major contributor to heart disease.
What sugar does is it will act as a filler to our stomachs, often replacing nutritious foods. What we’re now doing is eating a lot less wholesome based foods and consuming way more empty calories which are in the form of prepackaged, sugar laden processed foods.
When you fill yourself up with sugar, then you no longer have the room for the daily required doses of fruits and veggies, or the healthy carbohydrates which are commonly found in whole grains. This simply means that we’re not getting enough of the nutrients that we need. The result from all this sugar intake is decreased energy and more importantly, we’re inviting life-threatening diseases.
Why We’re Addicted To Sugar
Our dependence on the sweetness makes perfect sense if viewed from an evolutionary standpoint. The actual taste for sweet sugar is how we originally determined if food was poisonous or not.
So it was a survival instinct which we developed to help us evolve as a species. The problem of course is that we’re no longer foraging for wild berries or pure honey in the forest any longer. We don’t need that trait to be able to survive.
Our taste for sugar however is stronger than ever, this due largely to our connection between anything sweet and it activating the “feel-good” triggers. What sugar does to our brains is that it gives it an emotional as well as a physical lift.
The sweets stimulates our cortex by releasing endorphins, which then raises the level of serotonin, the feel-good hormone. So because of this, we’ll naturally eat a lot more sugar when we’re stressed, tired or feeling sad.
It’s important to note that sugar only acts as a mental band-aid. So if you’re eating sugar to just temporarily make yourself feel better, you’ll still feel crummy once it wears off.
What’s even worse is that you’ll have the additional problems such as less energy and more weight gain over time. So the underlying problem is to decide what actually causes you to go for that quick sugar “high” in the first place. Finding out “why” will make it much easier to break that sugar addiction.
The Damage That Is Sugar
Eating way too much sugar is a significant contributor to a lot of chronic health related conditions, which includes:
Anxiety: Too much sugar will cause massive swings in your blood sugar levels, which wreaks havoc and damages the nervous system. The end result leaves you feeling moody and edgy
Depression: Eating too much sugar-laden foods instead of nutritionally dense foods will lead to deficiency of the B vitamins, which is well known to exacerbate the blues
Type 2 Diabetes: Too much sugar consumption makes your body susceptible to getting overwhelmed by all of the demands of excess processing, which can then potentially lead to insulin resistance as well as weight gain. These are the major factors for the onset of Type 2 diabetes
Fibromyalgia: What sugar does is it will suppress the immune system. Just drinking one full can of soda pop can actually drop your immune functionality by 25% percent for up to three hours. This makes it a lot harder to be able to fight infection while leading to chronic fatigue syndrome as well as fibromyalgia
Migraine Headaches: A sudden drop in blood sugar directly after a sugar “high” can at times cause your muscles to spasm, causing or worsening any tension headaches or migraines
Sinusitis: Too much sugar in your system causes yeast overgrowth, which can potentially trigger inflammatory reactions in the nose
Just Say “No” To Sugar Give It A Thumbs Down
One of the initial critical steps in breaking that bad sugar habit is to just stop eating anything with “added” sugar. So this means any easy to eat convenience foods such as: fast food, sugar based beverages such as soda, juices and fruit drinks, and prepackaged processed or frozen foods.
There’s no need however to be concerned as much regarding all of the natural sugars which are found in most fresh fruits and some vegetables. But it’s absolutely vital you avoid all those processed foods which contains any form of sugar including: glucose, sucrose or corn syrup, especially if they’re the first ingredients listed on the food label.
You should also also be avoiding white flour which is commonly found in pasta, bread and pizza dough.
What you should be doing instead is reaching for lots of health based foods and consuming them as small snacks during the day. What this will do is keep your blood sugar high and as stable as possible.
Doing so will keep you from “crashing” during the day and you quickly reaching for an easy sugar based hit of energy. It’s more ideal to include some type of protein, carbohydrates or a “healthy” fat each time you snack instead.
As an example, try eating steel-cut oats along with fresh fruit with a small drizzle of flax oil or pure honey for breakfast. Carry a container of Greek yogurt if you’re needing a refreshing mid-morning snack. Make a small mixed salad with fresh vegetables, tofu and avocado for lunch. Have a nice piece of fresh grilled salmon with maybe a side of steamed vegetables and brown rice for dinner. For desert, try a sliced apple with almond butter.
Protein along with healthy fats such as Olive Oil will give you sustained energy, the vegetables will add fiber, and all the nutrients from the “good for you” foods will help you feeling full.
If you really need that sugary based snack, then you can go for it, but make sure that you just keep it at just one or two bites of that chocolate bar. You can then savor it without guilt. On occasion, these periodical “cheats” are OK.
The biggest problem is getting way too much sugar over a long extended period of time. That’s what usually causes all of the problems.
Just keep in mind that over 80% percent of the ultimate pleasure which comes from consuming something that’s sweet occurs in the first two bites. The actual damage from all of the excess Sugar consumption occurs from inhaling the rest of the snack.