There are many forms of sugar. A few are from natural sources and many artificially created.
Take our table sugar, for instance, the crystals we dissolve into our tea every morning. Those crystals are actually 50% glucose and 50% fructose.
Glucose is what we are familiar with from school biology. It’s what plants produce using photosynthesis. Glucose is what our body uses and understands as a source of energy. Every time we think about blood sugar we are actually referring to blood glucose.
Fructose, on the other hand, is produced by plants but found only in the fruits. Fructose is so different from glucose that our bodies actually have a different way of dealing with it. The body’s process of dealing with fructose is the same as what it does to deal with alcohol, it processes it in the liver.
So when we eat table sugar the body is torn between two processes.
When we eat sugar, a cascade of reactions starts taking place in the body. The tongue sends a signal to start the release of insulin and another signal to the brain as a reward. The brain gets a hit of dopamine and is actually rewarded every time we eat sugar.
This system of reward was essential for us as hunter gatherers because something sweet means something which is high in calories. Foods high in calories were rare back in the day. Today however, sweet foods are the easiest foods to acquire.
Sugar in one form or another is found in our homes and hides in our breakfast cereals, tomato ketchup, biscuits, instant noodles, chocolates, desserts, jams, packaged snacks and drinks.
Even foods we consider and buy thinking they are healthy are laden with sugar, salad dressings, fruit juices, milk powders, musli, peanut butters, flavoured nuts, dried fruits and even those dried cranberries.
What I find crazy is that even toothpastes have sugar! Thats crazy, brushing your teeth is meant to get the sugar off them… not redistribute it everywhere.
I am very passionate about the sugar crisis our world is going through. I have a feeling historians will look back at this generation and wonder how we managed to get things so wrong with sugar.
I used to be a massive sugar consumer about 4 years ago. I remember my friend’s look of horror as i piled in four teaspoons of sugar into my Tea. I have fond memories of finishing a new bottle of nutella over the course of a movie. Chocolates were like popping peanuts.
I had no idea back then the effect sugar was having on my body, how it was ageing me inside. How it was destroying my skin, giving it that dull grey look. But most of all I had no idea sugar was what made me tired and cranky through the day.
One of the problems with sugar is that it spikes up your blood sugar, the body gets a burst of energy. Once the sugar is consumed comes a crash! Lethargy sets in and we feel tired. Being tired turns into being cranky.
We put our hand out and reach for another sugary treat. Get a hit of dopamine, feel good and the cycle continues. Sugar is always just within reach.
This is the first in a series of podcasts I will dedicate to sugar. As your Habit Coach, relying on sugar is one of the core habits we need to change.
So your first habit to deal with our sugar addiction; is to go around and gather all the food lying around that contains sugar. Put it in a big bag and donate it to that neighbor in your building that you don’t like. You know the one that is always complaining about how you park your car or the one keeping the staircase dirty.
Next make sure than none of these food items enter the house. Rule number 1 of breaking bad habits is to make them tough to do.
Do not hide the sweets saying you have will power, don’t keep them away saying, “i will offer them to guests”. Just get rid of the sweets. It will be hard, it’s never easy saying bye to that chocolate got for you from abroad. Replace them with a good quality dark chocolate.
Everytime you feel the need, the burning urge for something sweet, go ahead and treat yourself to a piece…yes just a piece… of that dark chocolate.