Sweet FA! – Sugar….friend or foe?
Sweet Friends Addicted? Are you a member of the Sweet FA?
Have I lost my marbles? Have a I been hit by a sugary meteorite? NO I most definitely have not! This is a serious topic for many people and one I hope to address in this post. So tough love first. Life is not fair and at times we have to just accept this and move on!
Right on with the article: For some poor folk, no matter what they do they just can’t seem to kick the sugar habit. Despite knowing what they should and shouldn’t be eating they just can’t seem to resist or say no!
Does this sound like you? The day has gone well, you managed the gym in the morning before work and have eaten sensibly all day. Yet despite this when you arrive home from work you just can’t seem to squash the cookie monster! Despite all the healthy foods in the cupboards and fridge – the chocolate and biscuits won’t stop calling your name! You crumble like your rich tea biscuit in hot milk as you succumb to your next fix! Yes despite inwardly berating yourself and telling yourself to STOP IT! you can’t seem to put the brakes on as the final biscuit in the packet has gone……AGAIN!
Hands up how many are nodding their head?
Hands up who blame themselves and their apparent lack of self-control and will power?
I have battled with this one myself. And for years blamed myself for being weak. What I am about to share with you may explain a lot to you and even give you hope!
It’s not lack of will power or self-control. It’s not that you are greedy or weak. If you are a naturally thin person reading this then likely you are shaking your head in disagreement. We have all met someone who can start a bar of chocolate and stop when they have had enough……….. these people are few and far between but also VERY LUCKY! This isn’t some measure of outstanding inner strength, this is merely a part of your genetic makeup. I have learnt and now understand that for SOME PEOPLE sweet foods can be more addictive and difficult to avoid or reduce.
Let me repeat this: For SOME PEOPLE sweet foods can be more addictive and difficult to avoid or reduce.
In other words, some people are born with what we call a ‘sweet tooth’ but I refer to as a genetic predisposition to the sweet taste and euphoria produced when eating sweet foods. In plain terms, some of us get high on it!!!! Which means some of us get withdrawals too!
Let’s look at the facts surrounding why sugar can be so bad for us:
- Sugar messes with your blood sugar and hormones causing hunger, cravings, crashes, fatigue……
- Sugar raises stress hormones
- Sugar blunts the immune system
- Sugar feeds bad bacteria and yeast giving insatiable cravings and belly bloat
- Sugar causes gas
- Sugar makes you better at storing fat and KEEPING IT!
- Sugar is an anti-nutrient and will take out more nutrients that it puts back in, leaving your nutrient bank account OVERDRAWN!
- Sugar makes you over eat
- Sugar rots your teeth
- Sugar creates inflammation inside our bodies and makes us sick!
Now it isn’t as simple as this. Yes I know – we all want it to be simple and easy. But life has a habit of not being like that! So we have to accept that life isn’t fair and we have to deal with what we have got.
So what do I mean it isn’t as simple as just sugar?
It isn’t just sugar that can raise blood sugar levels in this way. STRESS can. Yep you can actually stress your way to being fat or having diabetes. This isn’t just stress from work, partners or kids. Excess exercise or lack of sleep for example can all count towards your stress levels. Stress depletes happy brain chemicals making you crave even more sugar and starch. The combination of stress and genetics makes it very difficult for some folk to get control of their diets.
So in the above scenario, no matter how hard you try to control the cravings and urges, the power that our hormones have makes it almost impossible to resist this metabolic roller coaster and trap we find ourselves in as our out of balance hormones take us prisoner and lead us to the biscuit barrel and bottle of wine. So what has changed? Our ancestors would have only eaten a total of about 22 teaspoons of sugar per year. Can you guess how much it is now? A whopping 140 lbs of sugar a year! So our diets have changed massively but you know what…… WE HAVEN”T
Did you know consuming sugar is the fastest way to age your body!!!
The problem is our ancestors evolved to develop lots of hormones to raise blood sugar naturally because their diets didn’t do the job sufficiently. And when you are running away from a sabre tooth tiger then you need all the help you can get. Today, we have many mechanisms and hormones to raise blood sugar PLUS a shockingly bad diet consisting of largely #beigedeadfood and sugar! Coupled with a distinct lack of sabre tooth tigers to run away from!
The problem is that due to high levels of blood sugar, we are not only experiencing obesity, but also high levels of inflammation and a faulty metabolisms resulting in appetites that are difficult to control.
So let me re-cap: Stress and excess blood sugar can deplete feel-good hormones in the brain making you tired and fatigued, causing more cravings and hunger for sweet, sugary carbs. Is this you?
You struggle to wake up – you feel tired and stressed almost from the word get go. You reach for the coffee and possibly cereal or toast? This kick starts the blood sugar roller coaster yet again for another day of fighting a losing battle. Mid morning and mid afternoon you feel the slumps yet again! Finally you reach home and CAN’T SEEM TO PUT THE LID ON THE BISCUIT BARREL!
Note: coffee and caffeinated beverages (including diet coke and pepsi) can also raise blood sugar levels leading to more cravings!
Now the good news: Your brain does need some glucose to run on. This is it’s primary fuel source. But it doesn’t need much in any one sitting. Just a nice steady drip feed to keep it happy and ticking over. The minute it drops too low – STRESS hormones are pumped out (hence why some people wake at night or have trouble nodding off). So this is important to understand. Imagine your running your car and your are just holding the speed comfortably (cruising along efficiently) then all of a sudden you put your foot down to accelerate at top speed in gear 1! This will eventually wear the engine out or your will fast run out of fuel!
This is the number one reason diets fail – not to lack of will power…. but to exhaustion of will power!
Being sugar sensitive means you have unstable blood sugar, low serotonin and low beta endorphin. All three are out of balance. When this happens, you feel bad and you cannot will or medicate or talk your way into feeling better. Therapy, self-help or 12-step programs alone cannot heal you either because they do not heal the cause of your addiction: your sugar-sensitive biochemistry. If you are sugar sensitive, what and when you eat has a huge impact on how you feel. Eating a diet high in sugar, refined flour, alcohol and junk foods makes your sugar sensitivity – and your moods – out of control. When your sugar-sensitive body is in balance, life is good. When it is out of balance, life is miserable – Kathleen DesMaisons
Would you treat you car then way you treat your body?
- Ditch the #beigedeadfood for most of your day – even that so called ‘healthy’ cereal!
- Start you first meal with a protein based breakfast
- Increase protein and vegetable intake at your main meals
- Consider snacking on nuts or some form of protein to manage cravings in the day and in-between meals when needed
- Increase insulin sensitivity with resistance training, sleep and walking
- avoid trying to out run sugar addiction – this over exercising can lead to even more sugar cravings!
- Improve sleep time and quality
- Improve how you deal with stress (yoga, walking, mediation, spending time with families, hobbies)
- Avoid stimulants such as coffee and alcohol
- Try drinking green tea
- Use natural sweeteners such as Stevia and Xylitol to sweeten things while you balance your blood sugars
- Even out your meals through a 12 hour window during the day. Aim to fast over night for at least 12 hours. ie. if dinner is at 6pm don’t eat again till breakfast at 6am where possible.
- Use dark chocolate to help with cravings. Either eat a few squares or use 100% organic cocoa powder to make a hot drink – this helps balance brain chemistry
- 5-10 mins power naps or mindfulness during the day to balance stress hormones
For every can or bottle of diet drink consumed each day, your chance of being overweight increases by 41%
Here is a great video by the fantastic Dr Robert. H. Lustig on the Bitter Truth about Sugar – I urge you to watch this!
Other things to consider:
- Artificial sweeteners found in low fat foods, diet drinks, gum etc can interfere with brain chemistry and blood sugar balance. Leading to more cravings and more weight gain! Ditch the diet drinks! These artificial sweeteners and drinks make your taste buds lazy and you crazy! If your tastes buds are over stimulated with these foods, then retrain with more natural sweet tastes.
- Berries, cashews, cinnamon, nut butters, fresh chilli with your dark chocolate, fresh lemon, lime, ginger and mint in your water can all waken up dead taste bud – Naturally!
- Wheat and wheat products can in some people create the same situation.
- Alcohol and caffeine can also interfere with sleep, brain chemistry and sleep
- Lack of sunlight and Vitamin D (use D3 if supplementing) can contribute to cravings etc
- Try 5-HTP which is an amazing amino acid that can be converted to Serotonin – a feel good hormone
- Use BCAAs to help combat hunger and cravings in between meals or at night. Read my blog here.
- Add cinnamon to your hot cocoa, omelettes or cooking as this herb has been found to help with this
- Bake some sugar and wheat free muffins and cakes such as Ugg Foods easy mixes or the recipes on my site.
- I love to use a protein powder that’s chocolate flavoured to curb any sudden cravings in the daytime or smear some nut butter on a pear or apple.
- Agave nectar and honey are still sugars with a different name! – use xylitol or stevia to add to drinks and cooking.
- Don’t use fruit to try to curb cravings. Despite being healthy, they are full of natural sugar. By all means use fruit to wean yourself off unatural sweet #beigedeadfood but don’t fall into the trap of snacking on it all day. Berries, apples and pears are the lowest in sugars and so the best choices.Avoid smoothies as these contain vast amounts of sugar.
- Taking some gut friendly glutamine, pro-biotics and extra fibre can also help your gut as you reduce your sugar intake. A healthy gut won’t cry out for food when it doesn’t need it!
You need to start to pay attention to your body and it’s feedback.
What about fasting? I have heard this is good for weight loss?
Well let me put this straight. I believe there is merit in fasting and I have written another article on this (read it here), but firstly manage your cravings and stress before embarking on fasting. Fasting could add more issues if not done correctly or without first balancing your metabolism and hormones. Once this is done, then you can start to think about the merits of fasting. I always say, get the big rocks right first before looking at the minutiae. stick with this and instead of the mentality of what you can’t have, instead think of all the you CAN have. Long term fat controlling is not going to happen unless you get good at sugar controlling first. It’s not fat that makes us fat. It’s sugar along with stress, fat, poor sleep, #beigedeadfood and poor lifestyle choices.
Big love, small tummies
Jill – The Fat Controller (and former member of the Sweet FA)
p.s. if you want FREE support to ditch the sugar and #beigedeadfood then do join us here: Ditch the #beigedeadfood with The Fat Controller
p.p.s. if you want more reading on this topic I can highly recommend: