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Sugar Addiction

By Amra B. 

It has been 5 days since I quit eating sugar (please note that by sugar I mean refined sugar and brown sugar: dessert, chocolate, candy, ice cream, cubed sugar, etc.) I decided to quit after seeing a documentary on what sugar does to our bodies produced by BBC. Quitting sugar consumption and maintaining a sugar free diet has not been easy , but I have already noticed a change in my body. I wanted to share my story of sugar addiction. Furthermore, I will let you know about my experience over the past 5 days of not consuming sugar and how it has affected my physiology and psychology. I will also share some facts about sugar and what it does to our bodies.  


Me at the beach in St Tropez


Sugar Addiction Since Childhood 

Some of my earliest memories involve eating sugar: my grandpa used to take me out for walks and they were completely centered around consuming sweets: we would first go to the stand to purchase a chocolate covered doughnut, later to a small market to buy chocolate egg (kinder surprise) and other types of candy, and then back home where my grandma had baked a cake or some other type of a dessert. It is no surprise that I preferred sweets over salty food all my life; I was almost trained to eat this stuff before I could even speak. I don't blame my grandparents (or parents), as I was pretty slick in getting them to buy me at least a chocolate bar. I was also very clever in finding sweets in the house no matter how well they hid them.



Growing up, I stopped using sugar in my tea and coffee when I was only 16 years old. Later, I would try and substitute a meal with a cake; in college I would have only a cake for breakfast. Naively, I thought that the amount of calories I was consuming in a cake was probably close to what I would have if eating an omelet with toast. Even on a recent vacation, I would try and eat a healthy meal (grilled chicken Cesar salad) just so I could order a large ice cream later. 


How I Stopped Eating Sugar

I stopped consuming sugar like many other things: I just quit cold turkey. I didn't think it was a big deal until I started feeling I needed extra energy. The first day I felt like something was missing and I kept thinking about how I felt a little more hungry. The second day I felt more tired than usual in the afternoon. I had a cup of coffee to wake me up, but I still felt like I needed an extra kick. I had a fruit salad twice that day, but wanted to pick up an ice cream so much (didn't do it in the end). Third and fourth day I felt tired in the afternoon, and almost thought I was coming down with a cold. I picked up freshly squeezed juices twice that day and bought dried goji berries as a snack.  Today, it is the 5th day and I am planning on sticking to my goal of dropping sugar from my diet. 


How Not Eating Sugar has Affected My Body

I noticed that despite eating extra calories during the day from salty food (I would grab a snack or an extra meal altogether), I had lost weight. My stomach seems flatter and my legs seem more toned. I am pretty fit, but overall I seem more definition in my body after these five days. I would also like to note that I have not changed any other part of my diet or exercise (I still go running or to the gym as I used to and eat the same types of foods). 

How Sugar Affects Your Body? 

Below is an excerpt from Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS:


"It is not just the empty calories that are the problem, or even the excess calories. Because even if you’re getting all the nutrients you need and are only consuming enough calories to maintain a healthy weight, eating a lot of sugar is still bad for you. Here are 5 of the top reasons why sugar is bad:


  • Sugar suppresses the immune system. When you eat a big dose of sugar, like a bottle of Coke or a candy bar, you temporarily tamp down your immune system’s ability to respond to challenges. The effect lasts for several hours, so if you eat sweets several times a day, your immune system may be perpetually operating at a distinct disadvantage. 
  • Sugar promotes inflammation. Inflammation, which is part of the immune response, is not always a bad thing. But eating sugar foods can fuel excessive, inappropriate inflammation that serves no useful purpose and actually promotes aging and disease. In my show on foods that fight inflammation, I pointed out that cutting back on sugary foods will help you avoid excess inflammation.
If you want to slow down the aging process, do what you can to naturally enhance your body’s production of human growth hormone. Avoiding foods that are high in sugar is a good way to do that.
  • Sugar suppresses the release of human growth hormone.  You know those ads in in-flight magazines that show a super-buff guy, who, thanks to a radical anti-aging program, looks about 50 even though he’s approaching 70? He’s most likely injecting himself with human growth hormone. Of course, he’s also watching his diet, spending a couple of hours a day in the gym, and using lots of self-tanner, but there’s no doubt that the hormone shots have a lot to do with his physique. Although the effects can be dramatic, hormone treatments are expensive and risky, so I don’t personally recommend this course of action. But if you want to slow down the aging process, you definitely want to do what you can to naturally enhance your body’s production of human growth hormone. Avoiding foods that are high in sugar is a good way to do that. Exercising, going longer between meals, and avoiding undue stress also help.
  • Sugar promotes glycation.   Sugar molecules treat your body like a singles bar. Once they get into your bloodstream, they start looking around for things to hook up with, like attractive protein and fat molecules. The hook-up is known as “glycation” and like most hook-ups, the results aren’t pretty. These glycated molecules act like drunken sailors, careening around your body, breaking things and peeing where they shouldn’t. They produce toxic compounds called advanced glycation end products, or, AGEs. That is perhaps the most poetically-just acronym in biology, because AGEs essentially throw the aging process into fast-forward. And much of the damage done by AGEs is irreversible. If that doesn’t motivate you to walk away from the M&Ms, I don’t know what would.
  • Sugar raises insulin levels. An influx of sugar into your body will have a fairly predictable result: Your blood sugar levels will zoom up.  Shortly after, your pancreas will release a bunch of insulin to help clear sugar from your blood into your cells. As blood sugar levels go down, insulin levels return to normal. But when you eat a lot of sugar, you’re constantly calling for insulin, and that can backfire in a couple of ways. Over time, it takes more and more insulin to get the job done. Eventually, your pancreas may just stop responding to the call.

Congratulations, you’re now an insulin-dependent diabetic. And along the way, exposing your cells and organs to chronically high insulin levels accelerates the aging process." [1]

Hope that my story helps you kick your sugar addiction to the curb!

XOXO

Reference 

1. M. Reinagel. Why is Sugar Bad? Retrieved on 13th of August, 2013 from http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/healthy-eating/why-sugar-bad?page=all 

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