Written by Marlene Liebenberg
It’s rather incredible when we take time to think about the attachment we have to sugar. For most people, it is not only a physical attachment, but it has a large emotional component as well.
We’re introduced to sugar at a very young age. Many of us as babies with formula milk that can never taste as sweet as breast milk, without a little “help”. It’s hidden in treats that soothes away aches and pains. Scraped knees and bad days at school are eased with a cookie or candy. We’ll celebrate a team win with milkshakes. It’s part of our celebrations and life events. Birthday and Wedding cakes, family lunches and Christmas parties with lots of sweet, delicious food and wine. When we’re sad we grab a chocolate or a tub of ice cream. Comfort and love.
When we’re stressed, tired and busy we reach for sweeteners in coffee to give us a “boost” or a fizzy drink to get through the day and grab fast foods because we don’t have time to prepared a healthy meal. Convenience.
And in most of what we consume, lurks this toxic and very addictive substance, one we often don’t even give a second thought: Sugar. It is everywhere and in everything.
In 2015 it was estimated that the average American consume around 32 teaspoons of sugar per day. And they are not eating it out of a bag with a spoon… It’s in the food! And most of it, of course, is in the form of fructose. Or high-fructose which is preferred by manufacturers as it is about 20 % sweeter than sugar. Which means they use less and save money. Great for their bottom line but terrible for us, in that the human body is not made to consume these excessive amounts of sugar. And most certainly not in the form of fructose.
The body can safely metabolize around six teaspoons of added sugar per day; about 3 times less than what is actually being consumed on average. All excess sugar is metabolised into body fat which brings about a host of health risks. Some of these are:
• Liver damage equal to that caused by alcohol abuse
• Turning off the body’s “appetite control system” which causes insulin resistance.
• Metabolic Dysfunction which includes weight gain, elevated blood sugar and high blood pressure
• Increase in uric acid levels which are linked to heart and kidney disease
We understand how dangerous sugar is to our health…. and yet it so very hard to break up with this bad boy! Why?
Combined with the emotional attachment we have with sugar, consuming it, in short, hits the pleasure centre of the brain, which causes a release of dopamine. Dopamine makes us feel good. But over time, you will need more and more of it to get the same feel good results. And this is when on a physical level, our bodies now we start “craving” foods that cause the release of dopamine. In this case, the craving is for sugar, but it is nothing less than frightening when we understand that this is exactly the same kind of cycle that a person with drug or alcohol addiction experiences.
There are many ways to detox from and cure this addiction. Some suggest cutting it out cold and some suggest to wean off of it. The choice will be yours in the end as to what you can handle, because as with any detox, there will be symptoms which can be uncomfortable. It is never a bad idea to get some support with this process as it can be much harder than it seems.
It terms of foods, you need to look at:
• consuming more, and the right kind of protein and carbs
• how often to eat
• cutting out all sugar and sweeteners for a while, even the natural ones
• drinking enough and good, clean water
• when, how and what kinds of sugar to start adding back into your diet
In terms of the emotional component, this long-term attachment might be hard to change, so you want to make sure to set up new reward systems, introduce new behaviours and habits and very important getting enough and good quality sleep to help your body regenerate.
This is only a small piece of information on this very serious topic, but hopefully, it serves, if nothing else, as a reminder that your health is important and is worth investing time and effort into.
Understanding and appreciating the dangers of sugar hopefully motivates you to start making changes that will at first be challenging, but once you see results, will be a new way of life free from this addiction.
If you’re guilty of long-term attachment to sugar, you can start dealing with that here: http://eepurl.com/b9CO5j