Sunday, November 21, 2010

Confessions of a Sugar Addict

As a self-professed struggling sugar addict, I am a lover of fruit and all things sweet and know firsthand how hard it is to get off the high-fructose corn syrup wagon and stay off it. Particularly with the start of the holiday season and an influx of festive sugary treats seemingly at every turn.

Today's generation is eating more sugar than ever before and it is estimated that the average western diet has 1/3 of it's calories coming from sugar and white flour which is highly refined and behaves like sugar when it enters our system. Like most things in excess, sugar can have a damaging effect on our bodies. (Duh). Like a drug, sugar gets you high and then quickly brings you down craving another fix. Did you know that sugar works the reward and addiction pathways in our brains in the same ways that other narcotics such as cocaine do? This series of highs and lows can put unnecessary stress on our adrenal glands.

Our adrenal glands are those two little guys sitting on top of our kidneys that are responsible for the secretion of adrenaline when we encounter stressful situations both physical and emotional. In Western society our adrenals are usually already working overtime and are undernourished to boot. Putting constant stress on the adrenal glands, in this case by consuming an excess of sugar and refined foods, leaves us vulnerable to conditions such as hypoglycemia and arthritis among other conditions related to diminished immunity. This may be due to the fact that research has shown that sugar inhibits the entrance of Vitamin C into white blood cells, making them function less effectively.

The list of complications from a diet ripe with excess sugars goes on. We all know too much is a bad thing, so what can you do to curb the cravings, consume less?

  • Professionals suggest taking 1000-2000 mg every couple of hours as needed of supplements such as L-Glutamine, which is used by the brain as fuel and often relieves sugar cravings.
  • Drink your H20. Hydration is key. Food cravings are often mistaken for thirst. 
  • Learn how to read labels. If we know what we're consuming we're less likely to make the mistake of consuming excess amounts of sugar which encourage dependence. Look for words like high-fructose corn syrup and dextrose.
  • Supplement when necessary. Make sure you have a good quality multivitamin in your arsenal and that you're getting enough Vitamin D and omega fatty acids, as poor diet often leads to more cravings
Just remember to try your best. Don't beat yourself up for enjoying a few treats this season, just be aware and when you're really stuck try having a piece of fruit instead. A good bowl of berries works for me. 

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