I think I’ve been addicted to sugar all my life. When I was little, I would sneak cookies from the cookie jar, and would frequently ask my dad to buy me a candy bar at the store check out. When I was old enough, I started baking cookies, brownies, and cakes. Not sure how all of this sugar stuff started, but I’ve been feeding my cravings for years. There wasn’t a reason for me to stop the habit initially, even though I knew it wasn’t considered healthy. For most of my life, I’ve been able to maintain my weight, did not have problems with my teeth, and have been healthy…according to my doctor. It wasn’t until my spouse was diagnosed with cancer that I started looking into health, particularly, food.
The more I learned about systemic disease and cancer, I was convinced that sugar is a primary culprit in disease. What I found frustrating is that my husband’s doctors did not really touch on foods to eat or avoid. When I asked about sugars, one oncologist told me that cancer will feed on anything and that it’s not necessary to avoid sugars. On the other hand, when a patient has a PET scan (an image to help diagnose cancer), the patient drinks sugar water prior to the scan. Why? Because the sugar water goes directly to the cancer cells or tumor. If cancer doesn’t consume sugar, why use sugar water?
So why stop consuming sugar? Here a just a few reasons:
- Sugar has no nutritional value and is only adding empty calories, and empty calories mean you are hungry more often.
- Loose weight, because consuming empty calories and eating more often leads to weight gain.
- Have more energy, because instead of the highs and lows of the sugar rush, you will have sustained energy.
According to the Web MD, between 2001-2004, Americans consumed an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, amounting to a 355 calories.
It’s not easy. So what’s the first step? Decide you are going to cut out sugars. You can decide how far you want to go. Will you give up added simple sugars or will you give up starchy pastas and potatoes too? You decide. See now you feel is a few days. First, though, set yourself up for success. Remove temptation from your eyes and brain. If you have cookies or soda in the house, get rid of it. This may not be so easy, so be prepared.
- Stock your pantry and refrigerator with alternatives to sugars.
- Prepare snacks ahead of time: celery and no-sugar added peanut butter, nuts like almonds or cashews, fruit like apples, grapes, etc. (you will enjoy fruit more once you give up the table sugars) and enjoy a fruit smoothie, hummus and veggies, and chips and salsa
- Have meals ready to go when you get home from work or school.
- Convince a friend or family member to do the challenge with you.
- Keep a food journal so you can see your progress. I like My Fitness Pal
- Weigh yourself in the beginning of the challenge and then again in two weeks.
It’s exciting to see what progress is being made. When you start to feel better, you'll want to continue. Remember, moderation is key. It's okay to have some sugar once in a while. Just know that sugar is a treat NOT a food.
Health-bite: Feel better without sugar.