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Quitting Sugar

Updated: Jan 14, 2023

Have you heard that sugar is the new cocaine ? This highly addictive substance was once a high commodity prized by the rich and wealthy, and is now cheap and easily accessible.

Not only this, but it's hidden and added to so many unsuspecting foods from tomato sauce, yoghurt, canned goods and spreads. Especially so in low fat products, because once the fat is removed flavour has to be added some how.

Sugar History

So why are humans so conditioned to LOVE sugar? Even though we live in the modern age, our bodies still very much have primal instincts. Sweet tasting foods were more seasonally available only during the warmer months and came mainly in the form of fruit. When we came upon these ‘sugary’ foods our brain immediately saw (and still does) a high energy food that would give the body a quick burst of energy. Our brain then would signal to our bodies to gorge on the sugar source so our bodies could store fat for the Winter. That body fat would then be used as a fuel source when food was scarce and as an insulator in the cooler months.

Yet today in our privileged society, food is never scarce and sugar laden foods are abundant all year around. This primal instinct means we are wired to seek out sugary foods for survival, however our waists continue to grow, fat storing around our organs, and no Winter comes. And we wonder why we just can’t stop consuming this sweet substance.

Rewarding Your Brain

When we consume sugar our reward system light up in the brain, telling us that eating that food is a really good thing. This is where an act or deed feels good, we get rewarded through our hormones making us feel excellent, and then our brain seeks this feeling out through similar actions (eating the sugar laden food) again, again and again.

And this becomes an addiction, craving the food and leaving our old buddy "willpower" with little chance when up against it.

On a physiological level here are some key points as to sugars impact:

  • Negatively changes the gut microbiome and increases intestinal permeability, leaky gut symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and IBS

  • Inhibits brain function

  • Increases risk of cardiovascular disease

  • Shortens lifespan

  • Significantly contributes to your risk factor of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

  • Leaches Vitamin C from the body

Now that you have more knowledge, are you wondering how to come off the stuff?

Quitting Sugar

Here’s a 3 step process to help you do so:

Step 1. First cut out all refined sugar

This means any sugar added into foods including savoury dishes like curries, and packaged items. It also means ditching the sugar added to your tea, coffee and giving up sweet treats like cakes, biscuits and chocolate.

Fruit you can still consume.

Do this for 2 weeks.

Common Foods that contain sugar:

  • Breakfast cereals

  • Tomato sauce

  • Pre-made pasta sauces, dips and condiments (even mustard!)

  • Packaged soups, stir fry’s and dinner meals

  • Some breads, crackers and pizza bases

  • Fruit AND vegetable juices (smoothies are ok, stick to 1 piece of fruit in the smoothie)

Step 2. Cut out ALL sugar foods

Step it up a notch and cut out the fruit as well. If any bits of added sugar were sneaking in, in the two weeks previous, this would be the time to tighten the reins. Challenge yourself to a further 2 weeks of absolutely no sugar including fruit and even remove sweeteners. Let’s give your taste buds the chance to reset themselves!

Step 3. Reintroduce whole food sources of sugar.

The aim here is to still keep sugar to a minimum and not consume it every day. It’s too easy for it to sneak from every now and then to daily consumption so you’ll need to keep an eye on it.

Aim to keep sugar below 3g per serving in packaged items like dark chocolate, protein powders and the like.

Start to re-introduce in season fruit

Sweeteners like green leaf stevia and rice malt syrup are free from the highly addictive fructose sugar, so you can begin adding them to baking if you wish.

Experiment with it! This is an incredible time to test and tweak and find a way of eating that you love, thrive on and that leaves you free from sugar addiction!

If you have any questions comment below!

Need assistance with sugar addiction or something else? Book an appointment here :)

Happy Day!

Jenna Poole

Clinical Nutritionist


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