What?! You are still eating sugar?! We are in the 21st century, don’t you know it’s killing you slowly?
You may answer…
Killing me slowly?! Cool I’m not in a hurry ☺ or…
I tried to stop but it looks pretty much like mission impossible!
OK, let’s get serious
You know that one of the best things you could do for your health is to decrease the amount of sugar you eat. Ready for a cascade of bad news?
- The most obvious one: you will store more fat! So what? Well if you care about looking good, it’s a good place to start. In addition, being overweight makes medicines less effective as your body absorbs them poorly. But more importantly, you are not free in your own body. And you have…
- … Less energy: yes the less sugar you swallow, the more energy you’ll have. Sugar gives you quick but short spikes of energy. In less than an hour, you start feeling low. You speedily shift from hyperglycemia to hypoglycemia…
- … An unstable blood sugar rate (glycemia) means an unstable insulin level which increases the chances of getting diabetes among others…
- … But also Alzheimer, known as type 3 diabetes, cancer too is in the range as glucose is the preferred nutrition for cancer cells.
- Insulin spikes make you lose homeostasis hindering the efficacy of your immune system for approximately 8 hours. This means, if you eat sugar in each meal, your immune system is weakened 24/7.
- Ho yes! Sugar increases your body’s acidity! So what? Well, most illnesses simply cannot develop in a basic PH. In an acid environment, illnesses develop easily. So you are somehow overloading an already impaired immune system (see the previous point).
- And last but not least sugar significantly hinders the efficacy of your brain cells. No, not true, neurons are amongst the most resistant cells in our body, sugar doesn’t affect them… directly. But it does affect them indirectly through glial cells. The latter are responsible for neurons’ protection, nutrition, and cleaning.
If you are still reading you may be thinking: “Now that you’ve freaked the hell out of me. I’m feeling so damn stressed, my warmest thanks to you! What can I freaking do about it?!”
Well hang on the answer is coming. ☺
How come it is that tough to stop eating sugar?
- Refraining from sugar consumption requires… sugar!
Yes, the brain is 2% of your weight and uses 20% of your energy. 70% of that energy is spent on inhibitions (vs. activations). This means if you want to refrain from doing something (inhibition) you’d better be full of energy (like sugar for example ☺)!
- Biting into a delicious sweetness triggers instant gratification!
Congrats, you just got a shot of dopamine. You’ve probably repeatedly heard about this neurotransmitter. It is responsible, among others, for focus and (some sort of) gratification and addiction! For example, you probably know dopamine gets into play when an alcoholic drinks alcohol. From that standpoint, sugar is a drug. So you are dealing with a tough opponent!
Side note: If you are feeling (emotionally) down and try to shoot yourself with sugar, you now have the scientific proof that effects are short-lived.
The question becomes…
… Is there any hope then?
Definitely YES! Keeping in mind 2 main ideas: 1. most of sugar craving is related to a dopamine shortage and 2. that you need energy to refrain from eating sugar, here are few tips:
1. Eat before you are hungry
According to Corporate Athlete, you need to eat 5 meals a day; 3 primary and 2 secondary. If you aren’t hungry, you eat less, slower, surrender less to junk food, temptations and compulsive snacking.
2. Never change a bad habit
Start a new healthier one. Because a day is only 24h, if you continue adding new stuff (new habits) at some point in time something will be neglected, hopefully, it will be that bad habit.
Wanna devour a packet full of candies? Don’t do it now, wait for a minute (I literally mean 60 seconds) and then do it. Every day add one more minute. You are progressively training the inhibition muscle!
4. Before eating sugar, eat sugar
Before trying to refrain, swallow a fruit. Chances are that natural sugar will help you fight your urge. You’ve probably heard that your brain is 2% of your body weight and uses 20% of energy! Well, inhibition gets a significant part of that 20%. More generally, if you starve yourself, you will face bulimic episodes that will screw any control you may try to have over your nutrition. Make sure you feed yourself properly during meals.
5. Change your environment
As a first step, reorganize your kitchen and work environment so that healthy food is handy and junk food is not. Then, stop storing junk food and buy it in single portions if need be. And remember, never go shopping with an empty belly, it doesn’t serve your cause. Satiety is your best friend.
6. Do things you can’t afford long term
Buy sugar substitutes (e.g. natural honey) even if it is too expensive for your budget. You’ll progressively learn to optimize your spending.
7. Offer your body shots of dopamine
Practice sports, find a passion that helps to reach flow state… and shun notifications on your mobile phone. ☺
The better rested you are, the more energy you’ll have. A good night of sleep is one option, you may as well learn power nap techniques, work in sprints of max 2 hours and rest for 10 to 15 minutes…
9. Take a day off per week
As I’m writing this article on the terrace of a front sea café, I’m sipping a smoothie. Traitor! I can hear you think out loud! No, not really, one day per week, I allow myself to surrender to sweet pleasures. A side note, in case it makes you feel good, I didn’t eat the candies offered with the bill ☺. Now, this thing has a name, it’s called cheat day. It also has a double utility. The first is a psychological relief and the second is the secretion of Leptin. Who cares about Leptin?! Well, when you have enough of it in your blood, your cells start burning fat which allows losing… fat! If you go too hard on the diet at some point in time, the absence of Leptin becomes counterproductive. So cheat days are good 🙂!
So you got the point, if you are craving sugar, eat it! Just do a few things beforehand: eat something healthy, wait a minute (or two), take a healthy shot of dopamine…
Food for thought: what about using these ideas for any addiction?
If interested in learning how to work with your nature and not against it, check out my book at WorkWithYourNature.com