Let me preface this by saying that I am both a sugar-addict and an emotional eater. So don’t think I don’t understand how hard giving up sugar is. But after gaining 70 pounds in two years from stress eating and pregnancy, I was starting to face a future wrought with weight-related health problems. I have always been blessedly healthy and looking into that future scared me pretty badly. I had to give it up. And you know what? IT IS POSSIBLE!
Giving up an addiction is not easy. There are both physical cravings and psychological baggage that have to be considered and addressed. One thing that helps me keep on track is reminding myself about all the ways sugar is terrible for me. When you get that bug in your ear telling you, “this is going to increase my chances of getting sick with the cold going around,” or “if I eat this, it is going to be more painful to get out of bed tomorrow or climb the stairs to my apartment,” it can be easier to say no and stay on track, because it stops feeling worth it. So here are some not-so-fun facts about sugar to help motivate you to drop it from your lifestyle!
Sugar is classified as a hepatotoxin - “a toxic chemical substance that damages the liver.” OMG!
When sugar hits your system, it is quickly turned into fat.
When you consume sugar, it enters your bloodstream and your body produces insulin to bring your blood sugar levels back down. When you consume excess amounts of sugar, your body starts to struggle with this, and you get insulin-resistance. This is what leads to diabetes.
The sugar-high is followed by a crash, making you crave more sugar a few hours after consuming. So giving into one sugar craving is opening the path for cravings throughout the day.
Cancer cells thrive on sugar and use it as food to replicate and grow.
Sugar messes with your body’s production of leptin, the hormone that tells you when you are full. So eating sugar can lead to overeating other foods - and not feeling full.
Sugar has many names - high fructose corn syrup, and anything ending in “-ose” on an ingredient label, i.e., fructose, sucrose, etc. So you have to read your labels!
Sugar is found in almost every processed food in the grocery store, including yogurts, pasta sauces, bread, ketchup, etc. Even options that look healthy could be contributing to your sugar addiction - and making it harder to feel full!
Your brain gets its fuel from two sources - glucose and fat. It functions better on fat, and excessive sugar consumption has been linked to anxiety, depression, and even schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, and dementia. Some parents with autistic children have found success in improving their child’s mental function by eliminating sugar and processed foods and moving to a high-fat diet. People with Traumatic Brain Injuries are encouraged to eat snacks high in healthy fat every few hours to improve brain function.
Excessive sugar consumption may be as bad for your liver as excessive alcohol.
Sugar increases your uric acid levels, which are factors in kidney and heart disease.
Sugar is inflammatory and may contribute to feelings of soreness, difficulty moving, and other health problems associated with inflammation, such as IBD and Crohn’s, arthritis, and asthma.
Refined carbs, such as processed bread, pasta, and cereal, are immediately converted to fructose in your body, so metabolically they are basically the same as eating sugar.
When your body stores sugar as fat, it likes to store it in the belly region, leading to fatty liver disease and other serious health problems.
Sugar, obviously, contributes to obesity and the health issues associated with being overweight.
Detrimental health effects have also been associated with artificial sweeteners.
It is crazy to me that, even knowing all the health risks associated with sugar consumption, I can still go binge-crazy on a pint of Ben and Jerry’s (Chubby Hubby, if you were wondering). For me, it has to be all-or-nothing. I can’t have just a *little* sugar in a day. I can’t have just a *piece* of chocolate. If I sneak one Oreo from the office kitchen in the morning, by the end of the day there will be a cup full of peanut butter M&M’s at my desk, dinner will be followed by S’mores made on my stove, and a bag of Sour Patch Kids by my bed as I fall asleep. And I am likely to start the next day with pastries or sugary coffee. So I know that it isn’t easy to give up. No one knows it better than me. But if I can make it through the first week or two (or three, or six) staying in control and just saying no until the cravings go away, I feel better, I look better, and food just tastes better. It is hard, but believe me - if I can do it, anyone can!