My journey with sugar started when January 2nd rolled around, since January 1st was a Sunday and I like to start new things on Mondays, when possible. It may seem silly or even stupid to some people, but cutting way back on and even quitting sugar became very important to me as I did my research throughout the holiday season.
Actually, the journey probably started a few years ago when my wife (fiancée at the time) and I decided it was time to start thinking about eating healthier. We didn’t think we ate all that bad back then, but looking back with the knowledge we have gained, we didn’t eat all that good, either.
Over time, I researched many things about health and my wife pointed out a number of stories about families quitting sugar, individuals finding a healthier life when they let sugar go and many others. This year is that year for me and it’s not a 30-day experiment or a one-year experiment or anything like that. Instead, it’s a new habit I hope to make a lifelong habit.
Sugar and I simply had to break up if I ever wanted to get back to my goal weight, live a happier life and feel good again. For about 7 years now, I have felt fatigued more often than ever before in my life and I refuse to believe it’s because I have gotten older. I know plenty of people older than I that seem to have plenty of energy.
It’s All in the Diet
It’s amazing the things I have learned about my diet over the past couple of years. My stress level, the amount of energy I have, how focused I feel and many other things are tied directly to what I eat.
If I eat junk, my productivity becomes junk and my stress level skyrockets. If I eat healthy, my productivity remains high and my stress low. It’s amazing how what we put in our bodies makes such a difference with our mental abilities.
This may seem like common sense, but it wasn’t always something I realized. Sure, I have known for years that fish or fish oil is good for your brain and carrots are good for your eyes, but beyond that, I don’t think I learned how much food impacts our moods and mental capacity until more recently.
Stats About Sugar
Certain stats about sugar jumped off my computer screen at me when I read about them. My wife and I decided to give a very low-carb (not no-carb) type of diet a try. This led me to looking at what I was eating on an average day/week compared to what the diet called for. I like to see the difference before I start something new like this.
Our new diet had us choosing a level of 60, 90 or 120 grams of carbs a day. This may seem like quite a bit, but an average day had me between 250 and 300 grams of carbs, so it was going to be a big change. We did this before the New Year and it’s where my more diligent research about sugar began.
Sugar is a carb and one of the worst ones you can put in your body. I knew it wasn’t good for human consumption, but I never knew that it should basically be labeled as poison. Here are a few stats that shocked me when I started looking into quitting sugar.
- On average, Americans consume about 765 grams of sugar every 5 days. Compared to 1822, Americans used to consume about 45 grams of sugar every 5 days.
- The recommended amount of sugar to consume in one day is less than 10 teaspoons, according to the American Heart Association.
- The average adult consumes about 22 teaspoons of sugar a day and the average child consumes about 32 teaspoons a day.
- One 12-ounce serving of Coke contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.
- If the average American cut out all sugar, they would cut out 500 calories a day.
- Table Sugar is 50% fructose
- Fructose can cause the same fatty liver damage as drinking too much alcohol causes.
- Eating too much sugar may cause you to become insulin resistant, which may lead to diabetes
- Sugar from sodas and others sugary drinks is one of the leading causes of tooth decay.
- Sugar is highly addictive since it stimulates the reward center of the brain.
- Too much sugar changes the hormones of the body including leptin, which tells the brain you’re starving. This can actually cause you to be hungrier when you’re full and lead to weight gain.
- Many studies have linked sugar to some of the worst health problems in our country including cancers, diabetes and obesity.
I could go on and on all day and make this a 10,000-word blog post just about bad stats about sugar. This is just a small sampling. Instead, here are a few links to other articles with even more information about studies done on the harms of sugar.
Is Quitting Sugar Easy?
For some, it will be easier than for others. It’s very difficult to avoid sugar. There are simply too many things that have sugar in them that shouldn’t contain sugar. When you start reading the ingredients and you understand the different names for sugar out there, you’ll realize just about every processed food item is loaded with sugar.
When you first quit sugar, they say you might start to feel like you have a hangover or the flu. This is usually due to dehydration because you are cutting down on carbs, which help to keep water in your body. The solution is to add in a bit more salt to your diet and make sure you get enough water.
Cravings will hit you for a good month, too. I am just past that point and now I don’t crave sugar nearly as much. I cannot say my journey has been perfect, as I have indulged in the occasional beer (sugar in beer is maltose, however, which we can digest, unlike fructose) and a few items with a small amount of sugar here and there. However, most of the past 7.5 weeks have been sugar free for me.
Fruit is the one exception because it’s natural sugar and there is enough fiber in the fruit to help our body digest the sugar found within it. I don’t eat much of it, but about one serving a day gives me what I need.
Quitting sugar is, by no means, easy. It’s a hard journey, but the first three weeks is probably the hardest. Some say you need a solid 21 days in a row to build a new habit and others put the number at 66 days. I have surpassed the 21-day mark and I don’t crave things like candy or marshmallows. I don’t miss sugar in my coffee (never used much of it anyway) or in my tea. I certainly don’t crave soda/pop, but I started cutting back on that years ago.
You may be different, however. We are all made different and our bodies and minds react different. However, none of us can truly live a healthy, full life with sugar dominating our diets.
When did Food Companies Start Deceiving Us?
Back in the 1960s or 1970s (saw it in a documentary and can’t remember) food companies started worrying more about profits than anything else. They started looking for ways to make foods cheaper, keep them on the shelves longer without spoiling and get people hooked on their products. This is also about the time processed foods became a huge thing, including TV dinners.
Food companies started to add sugar and other carbohydrates to their food (that’s being generous) products to preserve them and make them super cheap. This was also about the time when so-called scientists and doctors started telling people fat was bad.
Food companies basically use sugar to cut foods they make like a drug dealer cuts his/her cocaine. They want the pure product to go much further and make them more money, so they cut it with sugar. This also leads to you thinking their foods are so incredible because they set off the reward center in your brain. Getting you addicted to Twinkies or pop tarts load their pockets with more cash.
Today, ketogenic and paleo diets have us looking at things differently. We are now learning that overloading on carbs is a horrible thing and sugar is one of the worst carbs to put in your body. Drink more than one soda a day, you’re over your limit of safe sugar consumption. Eat pop tarts, processed cereals or anything else processed for breakfast and your day is started in a sugar coma.
The food companies want to make huge profits and they do so by using sugar in everything. This gets you addicted and makes it hard to break the bonds between the can of garbage you call dinner and a real, home-cooked meal consisting of healthy fats, proteins and vegetables.
My Ultimate Reasons for Quitting Sugar
There isn’t just one reason I decided to cut sugar from my life. We didn’t need to break up because we couldn’t get along and it wasn’t me, it’s sugar for sure. We had to cut ties for the following reasons:
- Sugar is responsible for weight gain and makes it very difficult to lose weight. Therefore, if I ever want to get to my goal weight, cutting out sugar is necessary.
- I want to have a family and I want to be there for them fully. Sugar clouds the mind and in many ways, can act much like alcohol does. I don’t want to be a zombie in this one life I have been given.
- Cancer and diabetes are both linked to sugar and I am not interested in either.
- I personally believe sugar is used by Satan to keep us from achieving everything we are capable of achieving.
- Sugar slows you down both physically and mentally
- Sugar destroys your immune system and I don’t enjoy being sick
- Sugar takes out it’s aggression on your liver, which is already working overtime to filter out the rest of the crap in our air, water and food supply. I need my liver to be healthy, so sugar has to go.
- Sugar has been linked to aging our bodies sooner.
It all boils down to what’s healthy for me. We are told to take care of our bodies in many different ways throughout the bible and God gave us what we have. Therefore, I see it as imperative, as a Christian, to do what I believe is right, which is quitting sugar.
I want to live a long, healthy life and I don’t want to miss out on things because I end up fat, in the hospital or even dead because of sugar. Yes, sugar is a murderer and one of the leading killers in our world. Just because it doesn’t kill you suddenly doesn’t mean it wasn’t the murderer.
As the leading cause of diabetes, a contributing factor to many types of cancer and the link to why our country has become obese, it’s pretty clear, sugar is guilty!
My body needs to be fed the best to perform the way I want it to perform. Even though I live a pretty sedentary life, I still need my mind to be fueled by good nutrients and not garbage. You wouldn’t buy an expensive sports car and put just any type of fuel in it. Heck, even with a moderate car you still make sure it gets the right type of fuel and oil.
Why would I take such good care of a vehicle (a thing) yet still continue to feed my body the lowest grade/cheapest fuel possible? Sugar would ruin your vehicle if it was put in the gas tank and guess what, it’s slowly ruining your body. Me, I choose a different path and it’s not paved with candied gumdrops or sugar coated anything. For me, the days of candy, desserts laced with sugar and foods containing hidden sugar are over!