I’m a sugar addict. Not merely partial to the sweet stuff. I’m adddddddicted. No bones about it.
It started when, as a teenager, I moved into town from the country (where we ate subsistently and very naturally). A cocktail of girl hormones, new-found access to malls and corner shops, as well as a kid-in-candy-store delight with foods I’d been previously denied, brought it on. I went sugar crazy. And was soon riding the rollercoaster of highs and lows and battling the desperate, distracted, overwhelming urges to down a cinnamon scroll or some apricot delights or a bakery-issue apple pie. Later, as in nowadays, it’s dark chocolate. And honey.
But I’m quitting sugar. Yes, yes I am. All of it.
I’m going to write a five-part series on it here, outlining what I’ve learned, the best techniques and how I’m tackling it. I really, really care about this issue – and my studies as a health coach have heightened my awareness of the fact that:
sugar is poison
we were not designed to eat sugar
fat doesn’t make us fat – sugar does
You might like to join me. I’m starting today. The last day of January is a good day, I think!
First up, I’ll tell you why I’m doing it and share some factoids to get you interested.
1. I’m tired of being addicted
It’s really got boring being fixated and controlled by my sugar cravings and my energy highs and lows. I’m a particularly sensitive type, which is why I think sugar affects me so strongly. More so than most. As does caffeine and pharmaceuticals. Some people can eat sugar in moderation. I don’t seem to be able to. I get a taste of it and my body, sensitive as it is to biological cues, says “quick, store energy fast”. Because it’s such an unstable form of energy release I crash and burn abruptly, needing another energy hit…fast! I’ll explain this all better shortly. One 2007 French study shows sugar addiction is more gripping than cocaine addiction. The effect on our dopamine levels is insane. It grips, it keeps us bound.
I should say: I don’t eat massive amounts at all. I don’t eat gluten – so that cuts out biscuits and cakes and muffins. I’ve never liked soft drink or lollies. But when I have it in front of me, something primitive takes over and I can’t stop at one row of chocolate or a small serve of orange almond cake. I gorge. And I’m forced to do as Miranda did on Sex and The City (when she poured water on the cake she’d put in the bin but was still eating).
I’m bored of living like this. It ain’t cool or dignified. I’m ready for a new energetic way.
2. Autoimmune disease + adrenal issues + an excitable personality + sugar = bad story
AI types like me cannot afford to have our stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol), nor our neurotransmitter levels (dopamine), nor our insulin levels mucked around with. When they are, they flare up our conditions. So does the whack of acid that sugar injects into our system. We need to keep our bodies alkalized as much as possible to combat the inflammation at the heart of AI.
Finally, sugar totally disrupts the bacteria count in the gut – massively so. It leads to leaky gut syndrome, which then causes undigested amino acids to pass through the gut wall, which causes antibodies to come out on the attack…which, of course, leads to AI. Sugar has to go if I’m to ever fully heal my thyroid disease. If you’ve got AI you know how it is – you think you’re on the mend, then – bang – you crash again. It’s up and down constantly, with layers of interchanging symptoms. I have a sneaking suspicions it’s sugar that’s a big part of this.
3. I want to live true.
Fact is we’re not meant to be eating sugar. Again, I’ll detail this further, but for now – our bodies are NOT designed to eat sugar. Until recently (about 200 years ago) sugar was such a rarity in nature (only found in fruit or honey…which were both hard to access) that our bodies were designed without an “I’m full” switch for it so that when we did stumble upon it we could gorge on the stuff and store the energy fast.
Our genetic makeup has not changed in 130,000 years; we are still not designed to eat much sugar. And so when we do we go against our nature, our natural balance, the way we’re meant to be.
I know this viscerally. Sugar doesn’t feel right. I don’t want to live against the grain any longer.
4. And finally, truth be known, I want to lose weight.
I put on weight (12kg) from thyroid disease a few years back and haven’t been able to shift it all since, despite getting my TSH levels under control. It’s not a core issue for me (although it did take a lot of centering to come to terms with!). Mostly it’s disturbed me because I’ll be buggered if I can find the reason why not.
But, you know what… I’ve been lying to myself. I eat better than I’ve ever eaten. I exercise. The ONLY thing left to face is my sugar addiction.
So. This is the deal. My reading over the past few weeks tells me categorically that fat doesn’t make us fat, sugar makes us fat. Over the next month, as I eliminate the white poison the two barometers of whether it’s doing anything will be my weight and my thyroid conditions/energy levels. I’m referring to a number of different sources and notes from the studies I did to become a health coach with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.
I can highly recommend David Gillespie’s books Sweet Poison, Why Sugar is Making Us Fat and The Sweet Poison Quit Plan, and a lot of the info I share will come from these. David was obese. He quit sugar and changed nothing else in his life. And lost 40kg without trying.
He advises never ever touching sugar again. Ever.
I’m meeting David and we’re doing a little video…if you have sugar questions for him/me…jot them below!!!
Scary, but I’m ready for it. For now. David promises once I get off the addiction cycle I won’t feel like it anyway. We’ll see…
Next post I’ll explain the two ways sugar makes us fat. I’m soooo fired up about this topic. I reckon you will be, too. I really hope I can get a stack of you feeling better, balanced, happier by trying out a sugar-free life with me.
I’ll also suggest how to get started.
In the meantime, some factoids to get you thinking:
- 150 years ago we ate no sugar. Today we eat more than a kilo a week on average. Over a year, that translates to almost 15kg of body fat.
- We need to run 7km every day for the rest of our lives to not gain any weight from the sugar we’re now eating.
- A glass of full-fat milk is waaaaaaay less fattening than a glass of apple or orange juice. Hard to fathom, right? But fat is good, my friends, fat is good! Better than good…we need it to not put on weight. But more soon…
- We are eating less fat and exercising more than previous generations. But we keep getting fatter… hmmm….
A piece in the puzzle is missing!
This is all a pretty new area of nutrition and science. Politics are involved. The sugar industry here and the corn industry in the US are propped up by Government tariffs. Our governments are loathe to wade into the debate…
If you feel like joining this ride, please provide your feedback and tips and techniques. And if you have some initial questions, stick em below and I’ll ask David for you.