As humans, we love sugar, and lucky for us, it’s everywhere! So what’s wrong with sugar? For the most part, the tasty, saccharine foods that we love come from empty sources, pops that don’t have real nutrients, cakes that are fat bombs, and candy. We want sugar and it tastes good, what isn’t good about it?
The sugar that's added to foods (like in candies, and drinks) isn’t sugar that’s found in real food, it’s altered and added to things that it isn’t naturally found in. The universe is super amazing, everything that it makes is balanced, that’s why no one ever got fat from eating strawberries. RECORD SCRATCH, strawberries have glucose, the bad sugar, right? Well yes, fructose does get a bad rap, but that’s only because it gets put in things that aren’t meant to have it. When you eat fruit it has the right balance of nutrients to balance the fructose, so while it may mess with your blood sugar levels, especially if you’re diabetic the fruit that has fructose comes prepared to help manage it whereas when you glug back cola, all you’re getting out of it is bubbly sugar water.
If fructose is so sweet, then why isn’t fruit candy? Because it hasn’t been changed. High Fructose Corn Syrup is the buzzword culprit because it is so changed that it has even more fructose than it had to start with. Food companies know that we love love love sugar, and they take advantage of us with that by adding different types or even more types of sugar and sugar that isn’t even really sugar (artificial sweeteners) So what can we do to combat the sugar that’s rotting our teeth, overtaking our thoughts, and spare tiring our bellies? Baby step it out of your mind. Now hear me out, I know that you’re probably thinking, “BUT, RUE! I LOVE SUGAR!” And I know you do, but it is because it’s engineered to be addictive. It has even been found to be more addicting than some street drugs, and it has scary side effects, just the same as heroin or cocaine. Sugar really can rot your teeth, your folks were right, it grows bacteria that your teeth bathe in and works to break them down, especially at your gum level (this is from swilling pop around your mouth). It can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and can cause type 2 diabetes. There are even some thoughts that it may be cancer promoting, and because it stimulates our dopamine responses we will always want more of it.
Kicking the added sugar habit but still getting your sweet fix comes down to retraining your brain, and the first step of that is to start thinking of your sugar habit the same way you’d think about a drug problem. You don’t need it, you like and want it, and it hurts your body. Start by cutting back, cold turkey can be sustainable for a while but you might find that it’s hard to maintain. The first step is weaning yourself, if you drink three pops a day, try drinking one a day and if you drink it for the caffeine buzz consider tea with honey in the morning. If you have dessert at lunch and dinner, just have dessert at dinner and maybe only half.
Once you’ve cut your intake down, you can try eliminating certain things, maybe you’re ready to kick your pop habit or can limit yourself to sweets and chips only on the weekends or when you’re out with friends. I have certain, “will not, under any circumstances, ever eat this” foods, but every now and again it’s okay to have a brownie, and I love a good brownie. So much of losing the sugar addiction is mind over matter. Many people have success if they just say, “this doesn’t taste good,” or “I’ve had enough.” If you verbalize it, you’ll make it true.
Finally, find real replacements. Sometimes, we just want sweets, and when that happens, know what you’re okay with having. For me, 80% dark chocolate and a handful of strawberries gets the job done, for other people a big bowl of oatmeal with honey drizzled over it and blackberries does the trick. Play around with fruit and natural whole sugar to figure out what works for you.