When I was at the height of my sugar addiction I was with my sisters and daughters in Ashland, Oregon for the Shakespeare Festival. We had stopped at the local chocolate store before a play. My sister, Gigi and I each bought the same thing and while we were eating it she said, “It’s too rich!” I thought to myself. ”What is too rich? I don’t know what that means. I have never had anything I thought was too rich!”
Processed sugar, the sweetest poison, is a chemical and addictive drug; not a food. It may seem excessive to take something that is commonly thought of as a food and label it as a drug, but when you look at how refined sugar is metabolized by your body it makes sense. Just about everyone recognizes that sugar is addictive. It should not surprise anyone that most people who are overweight and/or unhealthy have a sugar addiction. The food industry (I am using the word “food” loosely here) adds sugar to nearly everything precisely because it is addictive. The best way to get repeat buyers, right? It is frustrating to see weight loss and health professionals suggest that a person continue to “treat” themselves with highly refined foods, occasionally or moderately. No one would suggest an alcoholic have just an occasional drink and expect them to have success at changing their lives. I am going to suggest a few of the many advantages to kicking the sugar habit and then I will provide some ways to do it.
Benefits of Living Sugar Free
- You will lose weight. Guaranteed! Nearly all the extra poundage in America is a result of over consumption of processed foods, mainly sugar. I didn’t quit with the idea of losing weight. I had pretty much accepted that I would never lose that last ten pounds, but after a few months it was gone.
- Cancer. Cancer cells love sugar. Studies have shown that the odds of getting some serious cancers like breast cancer and pancreatic cancer go up drastically. The odds of getting pancreatic cancer go up 87% by consuming the sugar equivalent of two sodas per week. Studies on breast cancer, cancer of the esophagus and others found similar results.
- Cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol can’t do much damage unless the linings of the arteries are first roughed up by insulin response caused by sugar.
- Diabetes. Unless you live in a cave in the woods you know type II diabetes is off the charts in every age category. This is totally preventable!
- You will notice many small ailments that you live with now go away as you quit the sugar habit. Digestive issues almost always improve or go away completely as well as depression, anxietyand skin ailments. Call it the ‘catch all’ category.
- Food will taste better. People who are sugar or food addicted have low levels of the feel-good hormone dopamine. Food does not taste or feel as satisfying as we think it will so we eat more and more. Once you break the sugar habit you will notice that most of the sweet treats you thought you loved now have no flavor, they just taste sweet. Too sweet. You will notice also that you are enjoying the taste of real food more than you ever have. It was a desire for more enjoyment for real food that prompted me to kick the sugar habit.
How to Kick the Habit
The taste for sweet may be hard-wired in our DNA but there are ways to reduce the desire and cut out processed sugar.
- Replace processed sugar with sweet, real food. You will hear people say that sugar is sugar but it isn’t strictly true. When it occurs naturally along with nutrients and fiber it becomes something your body was designed to eat. An insect will starve to death in a barrel of sugar but live nicely on fruit. Try fruit, honey, real maple syrup, dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more), peanut butter, almond butter, yogurt, cheese, dates or raisins to satisfy a sweet tooth. Do this consistently and your taste for sugar will be drastically reduced and you will eventually be able to reduce some of these things as well. If you must bake use honey, raw sugar, or evaporated cane juice and drastically reduce the amount. In most things it will not affect the end result.
- Boost your serotonin by getting plenty of sleep and regular, preferably intense, exercise.
- Keep your blood sugar stable by eating six small meals a day, never more than three hours a part. If you go too long between meals your blood sugar dips and you will find yourself reaching for simple carbs that would ordinarily not interest you.
- Eat from the “flat belly foods” on this site. One reason they work is they satisfy the urge for sweet.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Just stop eating it. Period. You have the power to choose.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor E. Frankl