Have you ever reached the end of the day and felt sluggish or lethargic and didn’t know why? Well, it maybe because you are simply addicted to sugar.
That white granule that is hidden in almost every- thing that we eat in one form or another is quickly becoming one of the most addictive substances out there and one we need to kick into touch immediately.
Sometimes we can turn into ‘Sugar Zombies’ not able to function until we get our next hit. This can be a vicious cycle of constantly feeding the beast and proving to be costly and bad for our health.
Many studies have shown just how detrimental a high sugar diet can be on our health which can lead to serious diseases such as heart failure, obesity or sometimes even worse.
Now, no-one’s suggesting that we should give it up for good because let’s be honest how bland would life really be without a little treat here and there or an ice cream on a sunny day? What we are talking about is when our bodies become reliant on sugar and we can’t function without it -this is what we need to tame and why we need to get back behind the driving wheel and take control of our sugar cravings and addictions.
A key point to note is that like any food group it’s everything in moderation so if you are thinking of loading up on fruit as a sugar replacement you may want to think again. Although fruit contains fruc- tose it is still part of the sugar family and can still send your sugar readings through the roof as would do a typical chocolate bar. A banana may only house natural ingredients however it still contains up to three spoonfuls of sugar in some form which can soon add up if you have that and an apple and orange in your lunchbox everyday.
The sugars we need to really avoid are the artificial and refined sugars which are commonly found in cakes, sweets, sodas and some artificial fruit drinks but many of us aren’t aware of just how much sugar there is in foods such as white bread, pasta, sauces, condiments and soups. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is another one to look out for on labels and can be found in most processed foods this can be highly addictive and found in lots of artificial foods. If we are not careful we can end up consuming sugar in some form in almost every meal we have throughout the day.
These are some of the common signs to look out for that may indicate that you are addicted to sugar:
- Constantly snacking and needing a pick me up even though you may have just eaten and never seem to feel full. Sodas can be extremely deceiving as they fill you with carbonated air making you feel bloated and not long after they have you grabbing for another.
- Energy levels suddenly slumping – sugar can put your body on a rollercoaster experience giving you a power hit one minute and feeling ready to take on the world and then just as quickly it can send you crashing back down to earth. This irregularity can be exhausting for you and your body.
- Headaches – these can alter your mood for the entire day and feel like withdrawal pangs causing you to not only be in pain throughout the day but also affecting your work and your quality of life.
- Becoming irritable or hangry (a mixture of being hungry and angry and trust me this is a thing) The smallest of things may start to annoy you because your concentration is elsewhere and you can no longer focus on anything except your next sugar hit.
- Rapid weight gain – Those seemingly small bars of chocolate can create quite an impact on our waistline as well as our skin and hair – you can quickly see where the saying “ you are what you eat” comes from when your sugar intake is high. You will soon begin to see your face bloating and skin breakouts occur.
- Weakened immune system – You may find that you are becoming more susceptible to infection. Any bacteria in your body will use the sugar to feed on causing it to get bigger and more powerful ultimately affecting the bodies immune system.
- Irregular sleep patterns – this can be a vicious cycle as the stimulants from the sugars and artificial colours and flavours can keep us awake at night affecting the 8 hours of recommended sleep that we need. When we are tired we naturally produce melatonin making us feel sleepy however if we have sugar before bed this can send our sleep pattern out of control effecting how much sleep we get and having a detrimental knock on effect for the next day. Next time you have a night of dis- turbed sleep make note of how much sugar you consume that day compared to a normal day where you’ve had uninterrupted sleep – it can be quite eye opening.
Why do we need to reduce sugar our sugar intake?
A regular sugar habit can have more damage than what we initially expect. Results such as weight gain are a given when we increase our calorie intake but sugar can have a more dramatic affect on our body than most of us actually realise. Increase weight gain can lead to further issues such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer in some cases. A topic that is being dis- cussed more these days is the link between sugar and depression, where people can often rely on processed sugars in order to increase their mood only to be caught in a viscous cycle when the sug- ar hit wares off and they are left back at square one. High amounts of sugar cause highs and low which can be a trigger for someone already experiencing their own highs and lows in life and it can often feel like a double whammy.
Lots of sugar in our bodies can cause an unnatural spike in our insulin levels causing our blood sug- ar levels to rise which in turn if constantly kept at these levels can permanently damage the pan- creas leading to a hardening of the blood cells (atherosclerosis) resulting in tremendous damage be- ing caused as there is now a restricted flow of blood to the rest of the body.
One of the biggest effects of too much sugar is the damage it causes to our teeth something we only become aware of once the damage is done a bit like smoking and the effect that it has on the lungs. Sugar can wear down your tooth enamel making them susceptible to holes and decay and can cause us to need fillings.
Being addicted to anything can take over your life in one way or another so kicking the habit sooner rather than later is going to be better all round in the long run.
If you can reduce your sugar intake by limiting the amount of soda you consume or the number of sweets you consume you could save yourself costly dental bills and also avoid being a regular at your local doctors in the future.
This is not going to be a quick-fix or over night job, quitting or reducing sugar is like taking candy from a baby – often painful and hard work but it will definitely worth it.
After quitting or reducing your intake of sugar eventually your body will find it to be an alien sub- stance and your taste buds will no longer recognise it as a particularly nice taste or at least one they constantly crave. Your taste buds will also improve and you can often find that you have a greater appreciation for the taste of other foods that you didn’t necessarily have before.
You can always try opting for drinks such as fresh coconut water that is full of natural electrolytes and good sugars and work wonders for your body, skin and hair – plus you can also eat the flesh of the coconut which is a great source of protein.
Just think one less sugar in your coffee a day or one less biscuit on your tea break could result in a better quality of life and one that you will be around longer to experience.
Lauren Jagger is Creative Director of Bulalicious Activewear – bringing you “ Clothing with a conscience” created from recycled materials
Available worldwide with free shipping at www.bulalicious.com