How to control a sugar addiction
If I were to point out that the average Briton (that means you and me) consumes approximately one kilo of sugar a week, the vast majority of people would be shocked.
Not only that, most people would probably deny it; “Not me,” they’d say, “a few teaspoons in my tea, a cake or biscuit here or there, I don’t eat a kilo of sugar of week.”
Well, let me tell you, you’d be wrong. It’s a scary statistic, but what’s scarier still is that we don’t know we’re doing it.
Refined, processed and hidden sugars are in almost everything we eat, not just those things that we recognise as ‘sweet treats’. We have been conditioned as a nation over the last 30 years or so to eat high-sugar foods all day, every day.
What’s known in the trade as HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) is added to almost everything from bread to baked beans and soup to sauces in order to make it all taste better. And while we’ve all been consuming yummy, over processed, mass produced food items, we’ve been gradually getting more and more addicted to the hidden toxins they contain; most notably, sugar.
So, what’s so bad about sugar?
“Sugar’s not a toxin”, I hear you say. Well, yes it is a toxin, if it’s consumed in the sort of quantities that we regularly do. Excess sugars cannot be metabolised by our bodies naturally, this is why it gets converted and stored as fat.
But not only that, sugar systematically destroys our internal organs, starting with the liver, then the pancreas, the kidneys and ultimately, the heart.
Fructose is one of the molecules that make up what we know as sugar, its counterpart is glucose, and according to Professor Robert Lustig, the name behind the ‘No Sugar’ Movement that is sweeping the globe and author of Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth about Sugar, sugar (and especially, fructose) is “the greatest threat to human health, bar none.”
More than a quarter of the UK is clinically obese, over half of us are over-weight. The NHS spends approximately £5.1billion a year on treating obesity related illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and hypertension (high blood pressure). All this, despite the rapid rise is diet foods, low-fat alternatives, low-calories meals, and the like that have been on the market since the 1970’s.
In recent years if has become more and more apparent that it is this process of refining sugars and sweeteners and adding them to all manor of everyday foods (particularly the low-fat versions) that is making us as a nation fatter and fatter, and therefore, more and more unhealthy with each passing year.
And we are addicted to the stuff! Some more so than others, naturally, but take away the sugar in our meals and more than a few of us would notice the withdrawal symptoms.
Bombarded on our weekly shopping trips to the supermarket, or daily pops to the local shop, with chocolate bars, sweets, fizzy drinks, icecream and cakes a plenty, we all know that these things aren’t good for us.
We blame the bright, shiny wrappers and glistening pink-icing for enticing us to take that cheeky bite or have ‘just the one’ chocolate bar after lunch or in the evening.
Do we notice the feeling of deprivation it gives us when we opt out? Do we wonder why we literally crave a sugary snack as the day drags on and our energy fades? Do we realise that the irritation, the moodiness, the lethargy we feel on a day-to-day basis is because we haven’t had our sugar fix?
How to beat a sugar addiction?
The good news is, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We can put this right if we just cut sugar out of our diet; Prof. Lustig did, along with Australian Author of Sweet Poison and the new Sweet Poison Quit Plan, David Gillespie, and hundreds and thousands of followers of the ‘No Sugar’ Movement.
Mr Gillespie has been quoted as saying, “I stopped eating sugar and immediately started losing weight – without adjusting anything else about how I lived.”
Like any addiction, it won’t be easy to begin with, and sugar cravings and temptation are everywhere; but simply being more aware of what we eat, what is in it and avoiding added fructose can have a remarkable effect on our body and overall health.
Celeb fan of the ‘No Sugar’ Movement, Gwyneth Paltrow acknowledged in her blog:
“Sugar consumption causes this initial peak of energy, followed by a slump, causing the inevitable cravings, so you instantly turn to more sugar. The result is a feeling of being anxious, more moody (sugar is a mood-altering drug) and ultimately leaves you exhausted.”
Of course, some sugar is essential as part of a balanced diet, but there is more than enough natural sugar in the fruits and vegetables we (should) consume.
It’s time to break the vicious cycle and look after your body and mind, because if you don’t, no one else will.