Monday Healthy Eating, Nov. 22

Macro photograph of a pile of sugar (saccharose)

Image via Wikipedia

Stop eating refined sugars. Right now. Cold Turkey. For at least a week.

Why? Because sugar is addictive. The blood sugar spikes it causes in your body become self-perpetuating cycles that cause hunger even when your body does not need food. I hear lots of excuses why someone can’t do this, but the most common is they “just can’t,” and they’ll “cut down.” Here’s the truth:

This doesn’t work.

Every time you eat sugar, you start the cycle again, so you need to go through the withdrawl before you add any sugar back in, otherwise it’s very difficult for most people to actually kick the habit, just like it is with smoking, caffeine, or ay other addiction. It sucks. You’re going to crave sugars, badly, for several days, and you’re going to want to eat every chocolate bar, cinnamon roll, and blob of ice cream you see. How do you deal with this? Well, the reality is you’re mostly going to have to use your willpower, but there are some things that can help you keep your resolve:

-Remove temptation.  No one cares if you’re strong enough to resist that Snickers bar you’ve got in the freezer. No one is going to be all “Oh my goodness, so-and-so is such a great person for having tempting treats all over and having the willpower to not eat them!” And, if they do, they’re ridiculous. Recovering alcoholics aren’t given kudos for going into bars when they’re first sobering up. Just get rid of the stuff.

-Buy some berries and apples. The still have sugar, but it’s chemical configuration helps keep it from spiking your blood sugar in the same way as processed sugars do. Eat these when you get a sugar craving. Really, it’s unlikely you’re going to eat enough of either of these things to equal the piece of cake sitting in the break room.

-Eat real, nutritious food at reasonable times. Letting yourself get hungry is a recipe for disaster, so keep some munchies like roasted almonds (or pecans, or roasted soybeans) and hard cheese on hand, but make sure you’re also eating real meals. This includes breakfast–no skipping!

-Be active. Activity can decrease your desire for sweets, so go outside and take a walk, or get thee to a gym and pump some iron.

-Drink water. Flushing out your body is important when breaking any addiction.

After a week, try for two. I know, it sounds impossible, but it’s not. Once you’ve done that, you’ll likely find you don’t really crave sweets anymore. You can add a treat you really like back into your diet–but keep it a treat, not a regular thing.

Why should you do this at all? Well, there’s myriad reasons, really. Sugars, especially refined sugars, aren’t particularly good for us. They raise the chances of many health problems, including insulin resistance leading to diabetes, obesity, some cancers, contributes to psychological issues such as ADD and sleep deprivation, and a host of other things. However, the biggest reason is also the simplest: they’re empty calories, and we eat far too much of it.  Cutting out the sugar helps get us on track to a healthy weight and lifestyle.

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