by Amanda Box, N.D.
We all have different preferences and tastes when it comes to food. However, in nearly every culture and every country around the world, we share a love (or rather an addiction) in common. Sugar! Whether you are in Paris gazing into their sweet shops or on a bustling street in Greece admiring their beautiful choices of baklava, you can find delicious desserts almost anywhere! Sugary foods make us happy. Unfortunately, they can do much more than just temporarily lift our mood.
We all know that eating those delicious sweet candies and desserts can expand our waistline. However, sweets are the awful culprit behind other many diseases and ailments. When you indulge your sweet tooth too often, you risk the following health conditions and diseases:
- Heart Disease
- Insulin Resistance
- Early aging
- Autoimmune diseases
- And much more
The Sugar Effect
I believe sugar, in its most refined form, is one of the most toxic things you can put into your body. And unfortunately, most people aren’t just indulging in sweets once in awhile. They are bombarding their bodies with this addictive white poison day after day, all throughout the day! From our coffee drinks to a bottle of ketchup, you will find some form of sugar in most commercial and prepackaged foods. It is really no surprise because sugar is in nearly everything — especially here in the United States. Even a typical serving of infant formula has the sugar equivalent of a can of soda!
Americans really do seem to like their sugar treats more than most other countries and nationalities. I remember when my friend from England came to visit. She kept mentioning how sickeningly sweet our foods were. For most of us, our taste buds have adapted to the increasingly sweet tasting foods we eat. Then, it takes more and more sugar for us to become satisfied. Seriously, it is no wonder we have an obesity epidemic!
Honestly, most people have no idea how bad sugar really is. Especially if they are under the belief that a calorie is a calorie no matter what the food is. I’ve known people who count calories and are extremely strict with their eating. However, most of what they eat throughout the day is packed with sugar and carbohydrates. They have absolutely no idea why they aren’t losing weight and why they feel so terrible. They expect to lose weight and feel great because they are restricting calories. However, sugar’s ability to cause weight gain and health problems goes beyond just calories. What sugar does to your blood sugar and insulin level is what actually contributes to weight gain health issues.
When we eat foods on a regular basis that contain a lot of sugar, this causes a continual spike in blood sugar, which in turn causes a rise in insulin. The more frequently that the body has to release insulin to control blood sugar levels, the less responsive cells become to insulin. The result is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance takes place when the body’s cells turn off receptor sites and ignore insulin’s messages. When this happens, both insulin and blood sugar levels remain high. Many doctors also call this pre-diabetes, because without a change, diabetes is the likely result.
The reason people gain weight during insulin resistance is because sugar circulating in the blood that is not used by the cells as energy is stored as fat. This is why sugar is the worst thing you can eat if you want to lose weight. Calorie restriction or not, you will still store fat if you are regularly consuming sugary foods.
- Are you heaviest around your midsection, otherwise known as the spare tire?
- Do you have high triglycerides and/or cholesterol?
- Do you crave sweets?
- Do you have a fasting blood sugar level of 100 or above?
Insulin resistance isn’t something you want to mess around with; it can only lead to something much worse. It isn’t just about losing weight. It is about avoiding potential life threatening diseases like diabetes and heart disease!
Breaking the Sugar Habit
Quitting sugar can be a difficult task. However, eliminating sugar from your diet is worth the effort! Not only does sugar create the perfect environment for potential diseases, but it is completely void of nutrition! Other than the taste in leaves on your tongue, there is absolutely no benefit when it comes to consuming sugar.
I recommend quitting sugar by going on a complete sugar fast. Though this is extremely difficult to do, especially in the beginning, avoiding sugar can reset your body so you don’t even crave sweet foods anymore. Some call it a sugar detox. In reality, “detox” is appropriate, as sugar is said to be more addictive than cocaine!
It usually takes around a month for your body to reset and balance out, once it’s cleared of excess sugar consumption. So be sure and pick a time when you won’t be tempted by sugar very often. The holiday’s would not be the most ideal time to begin you sugar fast!
When you eliminate sugar from your diet, the important thing is to read labels and eliminate sugar in all forms! Sugar can “hide” under many other names and forms including:
- Corn Syrup (high fructose corn syrup)
- Agave Nectar
- Organic Cane Sugar
- Glucose syrup
- Fruits (berries are the only exception)
- Refined Carbohydrates (white potatoes, white flour, etc)
As you can see, even the “healthier” forms of sugar like honey and fruits are not allowed during a sugar detox. They can be added back in moderation later. However, when you struggle with sugar addiction, your body will crave sugar so bad that you may end up turning to natural sugar sources for the sugar rush you crave. Try to resist! You must teach your body how to handle life without any sugar spikes. The sugar detox is about going cold turkey!
Also remember that refined carbohydrates turn into sugar in the body. Therefore, it is best to avoid any form of carbohydrates while on the sugar fast. Limit your overall carbs. If you do eat some carbohydrates like a piece of whole grain toast, have peanut butter, almond butter, or some other form of healthy fat with it. Eating healthy fat with carbohydrates slows the spike in blood sugar. Coconut oil is a nice healthy fat, as well, and would make a great addition to your sugar cleansing diet.
I’m sure you’re wondering if there is anything you can add to your sugar detox diet to “sweeten” things up. Artificial sweeteners are a huge “no-no.” In fact, they are just as bad or even worse than sugar! These chemical based sweeteners should be avoided like the plague, no matter how bad you may be craving something sweet.
There is one healthy alternative you can use. It is a plant-based sweetener called stevia. It has no effect on blood sugar levels and even has medicinal properties, like lowering blood pressure! However, I still recommend using it in moderation during your sugar detox. Why? Because not tasting sweet food all the time is important to learn. If you dowse everything with stevia, then you will always have a palette for something sweet to the taste. Part of the purpose of a sugar detox is training your tongue to get used to having food that is unsweetened.
Treat Yourself To A Life Without Sugar
As a former sugar addict, I can honestly say that I rarely eat sweets anymore. And if I do indulge in dessert or sugary foods, I can usually only take a few bites before I am satisfied. I completely cut sugar out of my life and did a sugar detox. It was insanely difficult the first three days. My body was crying out for something sweet. But, I pushed through and I have never regretted it! You won’t regret it either. You’ll never feel better! The benefits of giving up sugar are too numerous to count. Say goodbye to ADD. Say goodbye to extra weight. Say goodbye to feeling tired all the time. Awaken your potential for greater focus and energy by eliminating that sweet white poison, called sugar, from your diet.
Is sugar messing up your life?
More Articles You Might Enjoy:
- Why Obesity is Becoming An Epidemic
- Candida: The Root to Many Health Problems
- 10 Top Tips for an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Amanda Box is a Doctor of Naturopathy and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 10 years and currently has a Naturopathic consulting practice in Sioux Falls, SD. Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic doctor to turn to for your personal needs, Dr. Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.