We are designed to eat 6-9 teaspoons of sugar a day. But our modern food system is set up around sugar, and seductively so. A granola bar can contain more sugar than a block of chocolate and everyday barbeque sauce has more sugar than chocolate frosting. If you have symptoms like brain-fog, bloating, or itchy skin my book can help identify the cause.
Sarah Wilson, a health coach, gets very raw and honest in her book I Quit Sugar (Clarkson Potter, 2013) about her addiction to sugar. From her book, “I was a sugar addict. I didn’t look like one. I didn’t drink Coke or put sugar in my coffee. I’ve never eaten a Krispy Kreme donut, and ice cream bores me. But here’s the thing: I was a covert addict. I hid behind the so-called “healthy sugars” like honey, dark chocolate and fruit. Which made things harder in some ways because first I had to face my denial.”
Ready to change her habits, Sarah Wilson spent the next 12 months getting creative and clever. She invented new fructose-free snacks and meals. Since detoxing from sugar, she says that eating sugar-free became incredibly easy, efficient, economical, and sustainable. For the first time in decades she is eating exactly what she wants. So, and so she continues to share her results to help as many people as she can make the leap to healthy, sugar-free living.
You try to do the right thing only to find low-fat yogurt contains more sugar than ice cream. You feed your kids “whole grain” cereal in the morning with some juice and pack their lunchbox with “healthy” snacks, like raisins or fruit. By lunch, they’ve eaten their way through a Milky Way bar-and-can-of-Cola-worth of sugar. And don’t try taking refuge in a health food shop – they’re little dens of fructose dressed up as healthy foodstuffs, Sarah noted. Some of the highest fructose snacks can be found in health food shops, usually beaming with “low fat”, “gluten-free”, “100% natural”, and even “no added sugar” labels. Just about everything we eat is laced with sugar. What hope do we have? Well, a lot.
Should You Be Quitting?
-Do you get an energy slump in the afternoon?
-Do you need something sweet after meals?
-Does your stomach get bloated after eating?
-Are you unable to eat just one piece of cake and walk away?
-Are you pudgy around the middle, perhaps even slim everywhere else?
-Do you often feel unclean? That you’re not always sharp and on-form?
I ticked “yes” to most of the above and had a sneaking suspicion that sugar might be the thing making me feel baseline-crappy. If you do too, then have a go and see if quitting works – it has for tens of thousands of people.
Fat doesn’t make you fat (sugar does)
We all grew up being told fat is bad. On the food pyramid we were all fed at school, fat took up a tiny top of the iceberg. Saturated fat, we were told, was particulary evil – it led to heart attacks and cholesterol issues.
This thinking can be linked to a study done in the 1950s and ’60s done by American scientist Ancel Keys. The problem was, Keys only ever published the results of seven of the 22 countries. The results of the other 15 countries disproved the theory! Nutritionists have only just realized this to be the case and are starting to reassess guidelines. They are realizing the reason for the higher rates of heart disease and cholesterol issues was actually sugar.
Fat fills us up so we can’t gorge on it
Fats and proteins and carbs have corresponding appetite hormones that act as messengers to the brain to control our appetite. You’ve probably noticed when you eat cheese or nuts, they gt rid of hunger straightaway.
So, all things being equal, we don’t get fat from eating fat and protein. Our bodies ensure this. We get full. Fat actually activates your metabolism by synthesizing several important vitamins. Eating good fat can actually help you to lose weight. Fact.
BUT we gorge on sugar, in fact, we’re designed to
When we eat fructose, our body doesn’t notice it in our system. It goes undetected. So we can eat and eat and eat it, but our bodies don’t feel full. Which is why you can drink a jumbo-size juice or soft drink. Can you imagine drinking that much yogurt?
Some say fructose is good because it doesn’t cause insulin spikes (as glucose does). You might see agave described as a low-GI sugar alternative. This can actually be a bad thing! In part because insulin is an appetite-control hormone.
Sugar turns directly to fat
Just to ensure you were listening: the way fructose is converted to energy in our bodies means that it sidesteps the fat-creation control mechanism in the liver and is converted directly to fatty acids, and then body fat.
Sugar messes with our hormone systems
And, in complex ways, leads to cravings and deficiencies. Thus adding to the binge cycles. And so on it goes…
I recommend you read and learn as much information on the science of sugar absorption and sugar politics as you can. Change doesn’t happen with an about-face. It happens by building up habits in our minds. Slowly, we form new neural pathways in our brains until we’re doing things differently, effortlessly. Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar book is a great choice to start your transition. It’s an easy to follow 8 week sugar detox program and cookbook full if fun graphics and photos from her sugar-free adventures.