I'd throw in a couple of bags of cookies and a chocolate bar or two. After all, this should all last the month, and we are in a national health crisis so it seems reasonable to have a little extra guilty pleasures on hand to help us find our way through it, right?
This was all well and good for a month or so, but for me things have been relatively "back to normal" for a good month. The grocery store is a civilized place again and I don't feel as if I need to consolidate my shopping. I've regained my routine, and a sense of control of the situation. But I have NOT regained a sense of control when it comes to sugar.
For me when this happens I know that I just need to cut out the sugar for a week or two and regroup, and I'm always glad that I did.
I don't know about you, but mustard with sugar and mustard without sugar tastes the same to me and I prefer to not waste the sugar that I eat on something that doesn't even bring me some extra joy.
The thing about sugar is that it causes way more problems than a little weight gain. Sugar is a major contributor to inflammation. Inflammation is a major player in healing, but if it runs wild it can lead to big problems. With chronic inflammation , your body is on high alert all the time, and this prolonged state of emergency can cause lasting damage to your heart, brain and other organs. Sugar can also lead to painful joints, lack of energy, difficulty sleeping, mental health struggles such as depression and anxiety, increased risk for diabetes, and increased risk of certain cancers. It's easy to ignore these concerns until they become a big problem, so if a little vanity will help to encourage you to decrease the added sugars in your diet you may find it interesting to know that sugar is a major cause of acne and it interferes with collagen and elastin, which effects how firm your skin looks, and will increase the rate of aging!
Sugar fills up your body with empty calories and has no nutritional benefit whatsoever. These are such good reasons to give it the boot!
Another topic that often comes up when I'm talking about nutritional habits with new clients is a strong determination to reduce or even eliminate fat in the diet. We've been told for a long time that fat is bad, and we've gotten into a bad habit of paying closer attention to fat in our foods than we do sugar. And the thing is, we need healthy fat in our diets. Our brains are made up primarily of fat and it needs to have fat in the diet in order to function properly, sending signals across synapses. Furthermore, when inflammatory cells, which are exacerbated by sugar, hang around for too long in blood vessels, they promote the buildup of dangerous plaque. For so long we think about plaque in our arteries as a problem with fat in our foods but it's actually sugar.
And what's worse is that all of those low fat foods have a lot more added sugar than the full fat version because without it the food would taste terrible! The next time you're at the grocery store compare the amount of sugar in a full fat version of a food compared to the low fat version. I bet you'll be surprised!
Kicking sugar is HARD! It is literally an addiction and the first few days of eliminating added sugar can feel pretty brutal, but it's totally worth the effort! I came across a little tidbit of information my reading over the years about how sugar and gut health are related, and when I think about this it gives me a little extra incentive to kick the sugar habit. I'll share with you in hopes that you can use it to your advantage too!
When we eat sugar we are literally feeding sugar loving bacteria that exist in our gut. Although these bacteria are simple organisms they're smart enough to stay alive, and they do this by sending signals to our brains that tell us to eat more sugar. When we are not eating sugar those bacteria can get pretty upset. They are fighting for their lives, sending strong signals to our brains in order to preserve their life. When I'm feeling those cravings I just think about how I'm literally killing off those bacteria that are serving to be a very bad influence on my decision making. On the flip side, when we eat healthy nutritious foods we are feeding the bacteria that thrive on healthy, whole foods. Just as with the sugar loving bacteria they will send signals to our brain that tell us to eat more healthy, nutritious foods. Have you ever noticed how once you get into habit of eating better foods that you actually start to enjoy those foods more and start craving them? This is why! So just remember, when you are craving sugar it's because you're successfully killing off those bad bacteria, and when you start craving broccoli it's because you're doing an amazing job feeding those good, beneficial bacteria!
I hope that I have provided a little extra inspiration to take a look at the sugar that may be sneaking into your diet!
I wrote in this blog about how our gut health plays a big role in how we crave sugar, but it also plays a huge role in our overall health, affecting not just our digestion and sugar cravings, but also our mood, energy, aches and pains, and even our brain function.
Your gut is the host to an entire microbiome of bacteria – an estimated 100 trillion of them! Keeping those bacteria happy, healthy, and in balance is a big part of a wellness lifestyle. As you can imagine, what you eat plays a very important role.
If you're looking to learn more check out our Gut Health Guide. In this guide, we outline the basics of gut health. Plus, we've included lots of delicious recipes. I hope you LOVE IT!
Hi! My name is Allison Hopkins and I am the owner of Wilcox Wellness & Fitness in Brunswick, ME. I am excited to bring WILCOX to Brunswick and share in my passion for living a great life through health and fitness.