I have battled with a sweet tooth for as long as I started growing them and despite the fact that I do regard myself as quite (or at least reasonably) health conscious, I simply had not been able to cure my sweet tooth. In fact I realised that my sweet tooth was getting worse with age as I got to the point where I was having a big packet of my favourite chocolate in the whole world which just happens to be Minstrels.
My love for Minstrels up until about two months ago knew no bounds coupled with a general tendency to opt for sweet tasting stuff instead of choosing healthier options. Over the past year, I grew increasingly concerned that my persistent sweet tooth would inevitably lead to something more chronic or serious if I didn’t get my cravings in check. I’d had my fair share of chronic health issues in the past and I certainly didn’t want to fall prey to yet another ill-health condition. Statistics are rife about the evils of sugar consumption and it may come as a surprise that sugar is hidden in all sorts of foods from bread, cereals and even salad dressing. Add to this our love for things like cookies and ice cream and it’s no wonder our sugar consumption is skyrocketing. Unfortunately, all this added sugar is doing a lot of damage to our health and it’s making us gain weight in record numbers.
Well, a month ago I decided to cut down drastically on my sugar intake and as difficult as I had found this in the past, I knew I had to get on top of what could only be described as a sugar addiction. Yes, I too was an addict and I had ignored the fact for too long by trying to justify it and making up for it by compensating with other health habits. Here are some of the reasons why I decided it was time to cut added sugar from my diet and it is for these same reasons that you should also do either a full blown sugar detox or at least do what you can to cut down significantly on your sugar intake if like me you happen to have concerns about high levels of sugar consumption and feel the need to do something about it.
Consuming Sugar Spikes Your Insulin
As soon as your body starts to digest sugar, your insulin spikes up. Insulin is the hormone that is in charge of keeping blood sugar levels from rising too high and converting extra sugar into fat for storage.
It’s a delicate process and consuming sugar in large quantities will cause your insulin to spike and deal with more than it is designed to handle. Over time it becomes less and less effective and this is when things start to negatively affect your health.
Consuming Sugar Makes You Gain Weight
It is an established fact that excess sugar is one of the major factors responsible for weight gain. Because of the insulin and because sugar adds a lot of calories to food, it can make you gain weight and you don’t have to be eating a lot of candy and cakes for that to happen.
Since the late seventies, when health experts advised consumers to watch and lower their fat intake, the food industry has provided us with all sorts of low fat and fat free food options. To make these low fat foods taste ok, they had to add a lot of sugar.
Take a look at regular and low fat or fat free salad dressing. The lower fat options have a lot more carbs and in particular, sugar. You may not taste it, but it’s there. Since sugar is much more quickly digested than fat, you’re hungry sooner after consuming a low fat meal and you eat again. The end result is weight gain.
Consuming Sugar Increases Your Risk For Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
With all that increased sugar and weight gain comes a higher risk of diabetes and a condition called Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic Syndrome is a group of symptoms and behaviors that put you at a much higher risk of developing heart disease and Type II diabetes.
Thankfully both conditions are reversible and the first step toward better health is to cut out the sugar.
Sugar Doesn’t Have A Lot of Nutritional Value And It Makes You Hungrier
Last but not least, it is important to remember that aside from a little boost of energy, sugar doesn’t provide a lot of nutritional value to your body. If you want something sweet, you’re much better off grabbing a piece of fruit than a cookie. At least with a piece of fruit you’re getting some vitamins and fiber with your sugar fix.
If you want or need to lose weight, the first thing you should cut out is sugar. It causes spikes in your blood sugar, that then make your body produce a large amount of insulin to pull the sugar out of your system (and convert it to body fat). The sad little side effect of that process is that your blood sugar goes on a roller coaster ride that will leave you hungry and craving more sugary treats which is exactly what I experienced when I remained under the control of my constant sugar cravings.
So, how did I break my sugar habit? Well, first of all, I must stress that this is what worked for me. It might not necessarily work for you. Though it wasn’t easy at first, I had to recondition my mind and my thinking. I did a lot of research on the adverse consequences of high sugar consumption (as if I did not already know) and then I deliberately allowed myself to dwell on the possibility of those consequences affecting my health and how that would negatively impact me overall. I tried this approach for weeks to stoke up feelings of concern to the point where I no longer felt comfortable with justifying my sugar consumption and instead began to feel the need to break the habit by sheer force of will which up until then had eluded me.
At this point I knew I was mentally prepared to break my habit. I decided to go on a 7 day fast which meant that apart from unsweetened herbal teas, I ate nothing from when I woke up in the morning till 6pm when I ended my fast. This helped wean my body off the need to eat anything though this didn’t happen until about the 3rd day. I would end the daily fast with a range of healthy meal options and if I needed a light snack afterwards, I limited this to fruits and mixed nuts.
By the end of the 7 days, I had adjusted to not having anything sweet except for fruits or varieties of nuts. It’s been over one month and I can honestly say that I have broken my sugar addiction. I have not had Minstrels ever since though I still miss it but the difference is that I have managed to get rid of my cravings. I now only indulge my sweet tooth at the weekends and only very minimally. For example I take dark organic chocolate which is high in antioxidants and other health benefits. I have deliberately refrained from indulging in Minstrels however as I can’t be certain that I won’t fall back to my addictive ways if I indulged myself in the slightest. The important thing to note is that I have finally broken my sugar craving and cured my sweet tooth!
I have already experienced benefits such as weight loss particularly around my mid riff area, I am much more energetic and I no longer experience frequent dips in energy levels. I also am alert for much longer periods than previously so I guess the hassle was indeed worth it
My next blog post will be about the similarities between sugar and cocaine and how these do affect our health.
Passionate about your health and mine, always!