Why and How to Quit Sugar
Recently an anti-sugar school of thought has risen among nutritionists and the health conscious. When it comes to quitting sugar there is no right or wrong. We've broken down some of the reasons that we chose to be sugar free and outlined the way you can too.
We don’t need sugar.
American endocrinologist Dr Robert Lustig described this best when he said: "There is not one biochemical reaction in your body, not one, that requires dietary fructose, not one that requires sugar. Dietary sugar is completely irrelevant to live. People say, oh, you need sugar to live. Garbage."
Sugar is highly addictive.
Sugar stimulates the pleasure centre of our brain by releasing dopamine. Your brain gradually becomes desensitised to sugar with chronic overconsumption as you develop a tolerance. This means you have to consume more sugar to get the pleasurable effect. This addictive process is very similar to that of cocaine, which, like sugar, also releases dopamine.
Sugar causes tooth decay.
The bacteria that forms plaque feeds off sugar. To make matters worse, the bacteria also turns sugar into dextran, a glue-like substance that helps bacteria stick to your teeth and store food. This is why sugar is the number one cause of tooth decay.
Sugar causes unbalanced glucose levels.
When you eat sugar your blood glucose level spikes and then quickly plummets, making you want more sugar. This constant up and down leads to mood swings, fatigue, headaches and cravings for more sugar. Since the brain depends on an even supply of glucose, it is no surprise that those who avoid sugar often report having little or no cravings for sugary things and feel emotionally balanced and energized.
Sugar accelerates aging.
Sugar binds to proteins when it enters the bloodstream. This process is called glycation. When sugar binds to skin-building proteins like elastin and collagen, it causes wrinkles, sagging and dark circles under eyes.
For some, “The Why” may be enough motivation to quit sugar cold turkey, but for a sugar addict, it’s not so simple. Quit sugar in seven steps:
Study the enemy. Learn the difference between natural sugar and added sugar.
Identify the enemy. Learn how to identify added sugar on an ingredients list. There are over 50 different names for added sugar. Food companies are sneaky and use terms like “Agave Nectar” to make added sugar sound natural.
Know your food. Pay attention to what you buy, order, and eat. Keeping a food diary or using a sugar-tracking app will help you stay accountable.
Limit packaged foods. Try to avoid low-fat, pre-packaged and fast food items; they are packed with sugar. Your meals should be composed of vegetables and proteins or meat. If you want a snack, try carrot sticks with hummus, a boiled egg, a handful of mixed nuts, or a spoonful of coconut oil.
Avoid soft drinks and bottled juices. This is a no-brainer. Soda and juice are chockfull of sugar. If you feel like a pick-me-up, try green tea. But when in doubt, water is always the best option; it speeds up your metabolism and keeps your body healthy.
Don’t skip meals. If you’re hungry, you'll crave sweet foods. So always keep healthy, high-protein snacks accessible. If you need something convenient and easy try a smoothie or shake that is high in protein using a paleolicous product. (Link to recipe)
Get Support. It is so much easier to break addiction when you have a buddy or a support team. This could be a co-worker, a friend, a relative, or even someone you meet online that will hold you accountable and talk with you through the experience.