Nutrition

Do I really need to quit sugar?

Sugar is the new demon.

It seems that everywhere we look there are books, programs and websites dedicated to teaching us about the evils of sugar.

I Quit Sugar…Sweet poison…That Sugar Film… you get my drift.

But is sugar really that bad for us?

Do we really need to banish all sugar from ever entering our mouths again forever?

The answer is NO.

And the answer is also YES.

It actually depends on you.

Here are a few sugar facts:

FACT NO.1

We are consuming way more sugar today than we did in the past.

In 1822 the average person consumed 9gm of sugar per day. In 2016 it was around 110gm of sugar per day! Our sugar consumption has increased by a factor of 12! No wonder we’re in the middle of an obesity epidemic.

FACT NO.2

Sugar in regular, large amounts really is poisonous for us. It makes us fat. Yes it’s excessive amount of sugar that make us fat (not the fat that we were lead to believe for the last 40 years). Excessive daily sugar consumption leads to hormonal imbalances that ultimately cause metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

FACT NO. 3

Sugar is a highly addictive substance. Sugar addiction is real. It interacts with the same dopamine receptors in our brains that get us addicted to alcohol, heroine or cocaine.

FACT NO. 4

We often eat sugar without even knowing it. Sugar is regularly added to processed foods to improve the taste. Especially if the foods are low fat. Just to be clear, low fat is never the healthier choice because low fat always means extra, added sugar to make the food palatable. Sugar in processed food is often disguised in ingredient lists. Things like high fructose corn syrup, glucose syrup or sugar cane extracts are all just fancy names for sugar. There are at least 61 different names for sugar listed on food labels!

So back to the original question… do you really need to quit all sugar forever?

It actually depends on a couple of things.

First, you need to know how much sugar you’re actually eating every day.

The WHO recommends that an adult should eat no more than 25gms of sugar per day (6 teaspoons). So add up all the sugar you’re eating a day to make sure that you’re under that daily limit 90% of the time. The more processed food you’re eating, the more sugar you’re more likely to be eating every day.

Next you need to know if you have an addictive personality type. The psychologists are still arguing about exactly what constitutes an addictive personality type but it’s estimated that 10-15% of the population have this personality type. If you have an addictive personality type it just means that you have a cluster of personality traits that predispose you to developing addictions. Some of the personality traits that are often associated with addictive personality types are things like: impulsivity, a value on non-conformity and heightened stress combined with lack of coping skills. There are thought to be biological, psychological and environmental factors that predispose people to developing addictions.

Are you an abstainer or a moderator?

If you can happily open the block of chocolate and only have one piece then you’re most likely a moderator. You completely understand that it is possible to have a moderate amount of anything without the risk of over-indulgence. However if you are an abstainer you know this scenario just isn’t possible for you. An abstainer would prefer to have none than just one of anything. They typically can’t stop at one piece of chocolate, one cookie, one French fry. It is easier for an abstainer to just say no. They don’t live by the creed of “everything in moderation’. For an abstainer, this just isn’t possible.

So are you addicted to sugar?

You are likely to be addicted to sugar if…

  • You can over-eat sweet or starchy foods
  • You can eat large quantities of sweets or stodgy foods even when you’re not particularly hungry
  • You turn to sugar when you’re feeling upset or emotional
  • You plan to eat just a small portion of a sugary treat (eg just one Tim tam) and you end up binging on the whole packet
  • You crave simple carbohydrates (rice, pasta, croissants) because these foods are quickly turned into sugar in your body with minimal digestion.
  • You can eat sugary foods until you feel sick

And if you are, is your health suffering?

If you have any of the health issues mentioned above that are associated with regularly eating excessive amounts of sugar (obesity, metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke) then you are eating too much sugar.

Do I really need to give up sugar completely?

If you are of normal weight, in great health and have a non-addictive personality type then NO you don’t need to quit sugar completely.

But you still need to stick to the WHO recommendations and eat no more than 25gms or less of sugar per day.

If you’re overweight, or already suffering from any of the lifestyle diseases mentioned above then…

YES YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED TO QUIT SUGAR!

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