For a lot of people, the thought of no sugar sounds boring and downright impossible. I’m not going to lie to you, at first, giving up sugar felt pretty insane — I literally went through withdrawal symptoms. Days 3 and 4 my body felt itchy with cravings and I was ready to pull my hair out – I was not craving sugary sweets as I expected, but a delicious piece of warm, crusty bread from a restaurant, and, bizarrely enough, CheezIts.
Now you may be saying, “Woah there, hold the phone, Nicole, I thought we were talking about sugar, not bread and salty snacks!” That’s the thing about sugar, it’s a sneaky little bugger. It’s in so many things we have grown accustomed to eating, and as a result we’ve become addicted to these hyperprocessed foods, and to put it bluntly, we’ve also become fat.
It’s interesting — over the past several decades, there are a few things that have been pointed to as key contributors to the rising rate of obesity in our society: too much fat, too many calories, and not enough exercise. However, when looking at the data of when low-fat foods were introduced to the markets which coincided with the exercise craze, obesity only increased. How is it that with more low-fat and 100-calorie pack food options available, our waistlines are expanding?
You guessed it: sugar.
Major food conglomerates created low-fat and fat-free products, knowing that when you take the fat out of food, it also takes out a lot of flavor. To make these fatless foods taste better, they were filled with sugar instead.
Sugar, in a recent study conducted by Princeton University, was found to be more addictive than cocaine. 40 out of 43 rats preferred sugar water to the cocaine.
This was no accident that food corporations added more sugar to foods – it was a deliberate decision to keep their consumers more addicted to their packaged goods. So right here is when you should stop and think, “What the %@&#!” It doesn’t feel good getting played, doesn’t matter by who.
You might be wondering, “What else is so bad about sugar, though? I mean, it’s sweet, addicting, and making me fat, sure, but it’s cool other than that, right?”
Well, not quite. Sugar damages teeth, gums, increases stress levels, suppresses immune response, and even accelerates aging by contributing to a loss of elasticity in your skin (i.e., it give you wrinkles).
Do I have your attention now?
Going sugar-free has dramatically changed my life – I’ve lost weight, yes, but I view that as just a positive side-effect of eliminating sugar from my diet. I’ve defeated my sugar-dragons and food addictions, changing my relationship with food. I am no longer a slave to my own cravings, because I know how good it feels to be sugar-free. I feel, well, normal. I no longer have energy crashes and climbs during the day. I no longer search my fridge aimlessly for something to call out to me to fill the boredom. Food is my fuel, not my emotional crutch, entertainment, or reward. And good food, real food, can still taste delicious, too.