Plain ole sugar. It’s not an evil thing designed to chauffeur us to our ruin. In the purest sense, it grows as canes or beets, which are harvested, processed and end up as refined sugars.
We’re so good at committing to a workout regimen and to making positive changes in our lives. Why oh why, then, is sugar one of the habits that’s hardest to kick?
I’m not here to reiterate all the reasons we should try to excise sugar from our diets and guts.
I WILL, however, share some of the most enlightening facts I’ve come across that helped me break my own sweet tooth habits with eyes wide open.
Numerous studies have been done on mice and rats with regard to sugar. In a few particular studies, when cocaine-addicted rodents were given the choice between cocaine and sugar water, THEY CHOSE SUGAR.
Neurological studies have also been done on these addicted rodents, and they’ve found that “high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” which “may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.” (1)
The more sugar you have, the more you want it.
Mindblowing, right? (Pun semi-intended.)
Added Sugar is “Bad” Sugar
It’s the simplest (and probably most helpful) rule of thumb I’ve come across regarding figuring out which “sweet foods” are the “good” ones to eat.
Think about it. Whole fruits – oranges, apples, strawberries, and all those other delectable morsels – haven’t been fiddled with in a kitchen or lab (assuming we ignore GMOs for a moment here).
Here’s the American Heart Association’s breakdown:
- Naturally occurring sugars are found naturally in foods such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose).
- Added sugars include any sugars or caloric sweeteners that are added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation (such as putting sugar in your coffee or adding sugar to your cereal). Added sugars (or added sweeteners) can include natural sugars such as white sugar, brown sugar and honey as well as other caloric sweeteners that are chemically manufactured (such as high fructose corn syrup). (2)
A Smorgasbord of Sweet-Induced Issues
Before I rattle off all the wonderful benefits of eating sugar, let’s remember that first and foremost, there is no nutritional value in sugars. None.
With that said, here are a few of the things we’re signing ourselves up for with our sweet tooth cravings:
- Heart disease
- Cavities & tooth decay
- Hypertension, hyperglycemia, diabetes
- Kidney damage
- Upping the risks for strokes
- Anxiety, crankiness and emotional depression…
And the list goes on and on and on…
Cuttin’ Back One Sugar Cube at a Time
I’m not listing off all these “wonders” of sugars to get you all to write it off forever.
However, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Knowledge is power.
Are you disgusted by the abbreviated facts we’ve gone over thus far? Want to change your ways? Here’s one way you can start:
If you eat foods with added sugar every day, try slowly but surely working it down to a more reasonable intake.
For example, a girlfriend of mine who LOVES to bake realized her sugar intake was just out of control. So, she stepped up her workout game, and started by reducing the sugar intake from 7 days a week to 6 days in the first week. Then to 5 days and so on.
Once she had gotten it down to allowing herself to have one “sweet” day per week, she found that she really SAVORED the treats when she had them as opposed to just horking them down all the time.
Another amazing side effect? She found that she often didn’t even crave sugary goodness on her cheat days, and went without.
Her skin cleared up and her energy levels skyrocketed thanks to the reduction of added sugars in her diet and the increase in her intake of whole foods and her activity level.
The next time your sweet tooth is a-callin’, ask yourself if it’s really worth it. You may quickly come to find that frankly, it’s not.
What ways have you beat sugar addiction in your own life? You know me – I’m all ears and would love to hear from you!