I’ve mentioned before that I’ve given up sugar, but I never explained how I did it, or why I did it. For starters I’ll share with you that I am extremely addicted to refined sugar. I was joking with my husband the other day that I could have joined Sugars Anonymous. Then I realized that the organization actually exists.
Refined sugar does not naturally occur in nature and is a highly processed chemical substance.
Refined sugar is just as addictive as any recreational or pharmaceutical drug because it immensely triggers dopamine levels in the brain. ~Source Everyone loves to feel good in life and we all define pleasure in different ways. For many pleasure is found in food, and this same pleasure is often sought out in sugary treats, decadent desserts, or fatty comfort foods often also high in refined sugar.
I was dealing with a lot of stress after graduating college. At this time I remember eating a box of Lorna Doone shortbread cookies daily to make myself feel better. I told myself that these cookies were no different than eating a box of crackers. Denial and addiction has a funny way of expressing itself doesn’t it?
I was definitely using refined sugar to make me feel better when I was stressed or feeling down. I could never just eat an allotted amount of any sugary sweet. I’d graze over small portions of the treat until it was completely gone. I ate chocolate whenever I desired especially when I read in a magazine that dark chocolate was “healthy” which makes me laugh just writing. I used refined sugar as a reward for a long day because I deserved it, I was tired, and I worked hard.
The isolated toxic substances added to processed foods are filled with chemicals designed especially to trigger sensations in the brain to trick it into thinking it is the best food we have ever eaten, and this is explained in detail in Hungry For Change. These toxic chemicals are all foreign to the body, and are pretty much impossible to stop eating once these pleasure sensors have been tapped. Some of these isolated chemicals are components of real food, but still derived through unnatural processing methods and added to processed food in high amounts impossible to obtain at one time in whole foods.
Refined sugar, the greatest addictive offender, is one of these isolated toxic chemical substances that is added to just about every processed food imaginable.
Refined sugar has many different names. The food industry knows that health conscious consumers read food labels, but they are also smart enough to disguise refined sugar for “healthier” name alternatives. For goodness sake “fruit juice sweetened” and “brown rice syrup” does sound a lot better than refined white sugar doesn’t it? These isolated chemical substances, such as refined sugar, do not contain any fiber, protein, vitamins, or minerals which make all of these forms of refined sugar behave the exact same way biochemically inside the body. Our bodies know no difference between any form of processed sugar because their source it is not from its natural form in a whole food such as fruit or vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals which slows down the breakdown of natural glucose in the body.
Have you ever noticed how the media will say “fat is bad” and we stop eating every form of fat, or that “sugar is bad” and we stop eating every form of sugar. Later on we discover that there are truly healthy forms of fat such as avocados, and there are also healthy forms of natural sugar such as bananas which are fiber, protein, vitamin, and mineral rich. Our body actually needs a specific amount of healthy fat and natural fruit and vegetable sugar in their whole foods form. What’s missing in many of these cases is that we take information at face value. We believe everything we read or have been told.
I completely encourage you to do your own research, and you can always start with watching the documentary Hungry For Change which I wrote about here, or The University Of California presentation of Sugar-The Bitter Truth by Dr. Robert H. Lustig. In Sugar-The Bitter Truth, Dr. Lustig explains how sugar metabolizes directly into fat inside the body. You can also read medical journals such as this or this one. In essence you will learn that refined sugar in sugary drinks and processed foods in general are the culprit for most degenerative diseases in society today as well as obesity in all ages around the world. Regardless do as much research as possible from as many sources as possible. Yet please also be aware of who is funding the sources were your information is coming from.
I stopped eating sugar, gluten, and processed foods when I gained more knowledge and had the desire to live healthier.
I had to completely quit sugar because I’m addicted, and the idea of moderation really doesn’t exist if you are addicted. This decision began a month or two before the holiday season in 2012. This wasn’t the easiest time to ease processed sugar out of my life as the temptations of holiday treats are in full force this time of year.
The longer I abstained from processed sugar, the less I craved it, yet I also had to greatly increase the nutrient levels in the rest of my diet with whole foods and nutrient rich organic fruits and vegetables so that my body would be completely satiated.
We crave refined sugar because glucose is the easiest form of fuel for our bodies to run off of and the Standard American Diet is so poor in nutrients. The problem with refined sugar is that it doesn’t create satiation, and it blocks the bodies ability to know that it has had enough. Also when our bodies do not get enough nutrients it will continue to tell us that we are hungry.
Fruit contains fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals as well as easily digestible simple carbohydrates which is pure energy food.
Now I begin my day with a large fruit smoothie blended with hemp seeds which is a simple carbohydrate high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This satisfies what used to be enhanced sugar cravings from not receiving enough nutrients when I ate other complex carbohydrates for breakfast such as cereal, bread, or pancakes. Because my body benefits from eating fruit, I no longer crave or am tempted by refined sugar in candy or desserts even when I am around it no matter how beautiful it looks.
Eating nutrient rich whole foods while eliminating refined sugar and processed foods has been life changing for me.
Because refined sugar is literally in everything, I do my best of avoid it by reading labels. I make 90% of my own food and don’t eat out often so it is much easier to avoid sugar. When I do eat out I am lucky to live in a city which has an abundance of healthy restaurant choices, yet I still have to choose wisely. And yes I avoid eating honey, agave nectar, and coconut sugar as I consider these processed refined sugars as well.
I am now learning to make fruit based desserts for holidays and special occasions such as the raw pumpkin pie recipe I shared on Minimalist Beauty. It was so easy to make and so delicious! Am I always perfect at avoiding sugar? Of course not because sugar literally is in everything. I learn from my mistakes then get back on my refined sugar-free no processed foods lifestyle when I fall off.
Have you struggled with sugar addiction?
(Image from abc.net.au)