“Animal studies show that sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine,” says Dr. Mark Hyman, who’s been researching the effect of the sweet stuff on our systems for 20 years.
“According to Hyman, People can’t manage their behavior and their eating because their taste buds and their biology have all been hijacked by processed, hyper-palatable, high glucose, high sugar foods that drive their hormones and neurotransmitters to make them eat more.”
What does this have to do with me?
After years of dieting and failing, we have come to believe that we are weak and lack the discipline to stick to a diet. Some of us exercise to the point of exhaustion and starve ourselves while cutting calories just to see the the scale numbers go up. But the problem is not our willpower, the problem is the types of foods that we are consuming. Processed foods are changing our body’s chemistry, making it impossible to get rid of fat. It’s creating chemical imbalances that keep us hungry, moody, tired and fatigued all day. We crave the foods that we are addicted to. And sadly, those same foods are what are making us sick as we age.
I’d like you to think about this for a moment. What are the foods that you crave when you are hungry, bored, stressed, anxious or happy? Are you craving a scrumptious plate of grilled vegetables served over brown rice? Or are you like me, who craves 85% dark chocolate all day, every day? Yes, even dark chocolate with all it’s beneficial flavonoids is addictive. And while your brain tells you that it’s healthy, especially compared to more sugary options, the reality is that the sugar in there can still wreak havoc on your system. Do you get the point that I’m making? Added sugar (meaning sugar that was added to a product) is highly addictive, no matter how it’s packaged, shaped or flavored.
Unfortunately, in our modern world we have easy access to an abundance of processed food and sugars. We are consuming more sugar than ever before, both consciously and unconsciously. Food manufacturing companies regularly use sugar to enhance flavors and make food more palatable – even foods that you wouldn’t consider to be “sweet.”
Examples of conscious consumption are: buying sweets, candy bars, fruit juices, cereals, breads, crackers, chips, sport bars, sport drinks, energy drinks, breakfast bars, beer, alcohol, etc., or baking your own desserts. Examples of unconscious sugar consumption are: hidden sugars in your meals when you eat at restaurants, fast food places or in the prepared food section of the supermarket.
Our body and brain are designed to convert a certain amount of sugar calories into energy, but when we overload the system day after day with this food, all extra calories get stored as fat, waiting for the next starvation period that never comes. As a result, our insulin levels spike causing a domino effect that includes:
- Storing belly fat
- Raising LDL (bad cholesterol)
- Reducing sex hormones, therefore reducing sex drive
- Causing depression
- Causing skin problems
The above 5 problems correlate to 5 distinguished areas in your body and it’s respective diseases:
- metabolism (insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, belly fat)
- Heart – Heart disease, raised LDL
- Liver – Fatty liver
- Hormones – Low libido (testosterone/estrogen)
- Brain – depression, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
- and our largest organ, the skin – psoriasis, eczema, acne, etc.
All these imbalances create a vicious cycle that makes you crave even more sugar, usually through processed food that only worsens these symptoms. The worse thing is that our brains never connect these symptoms and health problems to the foods we eat.
Did you know, that men and women who try to do the right thing by drinking diet sodas actually drink twice as much as those who drank regular sugar-sweetened sodas. It’s because artificial sweeteners are more addictive than regular sugar, so think about that next time you’re offered anything that’s sugar-free.
By eliminating sugar from your diet, you can make huge steps toward breaking the cycle of addiction and disease.
How do we do it?
There are 2 ways to getting sugar out of the diet.
- By going cold turkey and eliminating it from your diet all at once, or
- By making progressively small changes starting on the first meal of the day and then eliminating sugar from lunch, happy hour and finally dinner.
What I want you to get out of this, is not a “quick fix” or fad diet, but a new way of managing your diet that supports your health and vitality. We didn’t arrive at our current habits overnight, but we do need to make substantial changes to see the results we are after. By eliminating sugar from out diet we will see a substantial transformation, not just on the outside, but on the inside as well.