I can't believe it's the holidays already! SO...let's talk about SUGAR.
Remember the crazy study that came out saying that sugar was more addictive than cocaine? It compared rats’ brains and showed that they lit up in the same places as when they consumed cocaine and sugar? Ya … let’s debunk that one.
Hisham Ziauddeen, a psychiatrist at the University of Cambridge, said that the rodent studies had been misunderstood by the authors and added that a review of the matter he co-authored last year did not support the idea that sugar was addictive to humans.
“The rodent studies show that you only get addiction-like behaviours if you restrict the animals to having [sugar] for two hours every day. If you allow them to have it whenever they want it — which is really how we consume it — they don’t show these addiction-like behaviours,” he said.
The rats had been RESTRICTED from sugar before the study was done.
Ziauddeen added that it was not surprising that even rats hooked on cocaine might prefer sugar, pointing out that many animals would naturally look for sweet things, not cocaine.
HMMM … but the media likes to make things more interesting and dramatic to sell stories.
SO ... let’s talk a little bit about the word ‘addiction.’ I have worked with many clients and have heard many people lamenting that they are “addicted” to food, sugar, fast food, etc. Here is the definition of addiction: “a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequence.”
I personally believe you can NOT be addicted to something that is ESSENTIAL to life. I know this is controversial — especially with groups like, Food Addicts Anonymous. But, LABELING yourself as an “addict” has extremely negative consequences. (Read about my rant and argument about being a Food Addict here: link to other blog) .Your language creates your reality, plain and simple. What do you immediately think about when you hear or see the word “addict”? I imagine a junkie on a dirty street corner with no self-control. It’s a NEGATIVE label. What happens when you call yourself a sugar addict and then you eat sugar? You immediately go into self-attack mode. “Oh no. Here I go again. I need to eat. Will I be able to stop? Gosh I wish I didn’t have this problem.” And on and on. And do you know what THAT negative thinking does? Creates a stress-chemistry reaction in your body. Stress equals an increase in cortisol, insulin and more metabolism disrupting consequences, which signals your body to stop weight loss, store fat and stop building muscle. Kind of the opposite thing you want.
So, start saying you have a sugar “habit” not an addiction. You are working on your sugar habit.
YOU are responsible for this habit.
YOU are in control.
Not the sugar.
And, another important thought, from fellow blogger Emily Cahalan, is that this way of thinking is almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way and a diffusal of responsibility - it’s not my fault, I can’t control it, I’m addicted. It’s like you’re permitting yourself in a backwards way to overindulge instead of just having an “Oh hey, I can have a normal amount without eating the whole package, and that’s okay.”
RELAX. Take some deep breaths and let’s DE-focus on sugar and focus on other dietary factors first. When we stop focusing on the negative habit, beating ourselves up for it, and instead, focus on the POSITIVE habits we want to see in our lives, it is a much easier process.
INCREASE the quality of the food you’re eating. Switch to organic, local and whole foods as much as you can with a higher nutrient quality so your body is getting what it needs. A diet high in low quality, low fiber and high calorie “junk” will signal your brain to eat and crave more.
BALANCE your macronutrients. Are you getting a good blend of proteins, fats and carbohydrates throughout the day? Are you eating too many carbs or not enough? Are you getting enough essential fatty acids? Is your protein too low? I offer free diet evaluations for this very reason. Please reach out and we can check on this!
RHYTHM. Do you have a consistent eating rhythm? Are you eating regularly? Your body thrives off of rhythm and predictability. Breakfast should be eaten within an hour of waking up, lunch between 12-1:30 p.m. when your metabolism is its highest, and dinner should be at LEAST two hours before bed. (There is a lot more science and info on eating rhythm on my video on Facebook here:)
SLOW DOWN and de-stress. Take 5-10 deep breaths before meals. The more oxygen you have, the better your metabolism works. The slower you eat, the faster your metabolism.
STOP starving yourself. Fighting food and your appetite or skipping meals ONLY sets you up to crave even more sugar and junk.
REFLECT and journal. Why do you think you’re having all these cravings for sugar? What does sugar represent in your life? How can you bring joy and some “sweetness” into your life in other ways besides pie and cookies?
A broth-based soup 3 times per day. You can try Miso, bone broth or a veggie broth. A warm soup is naturally more alkaline and can help keep you grounded. Oftentimes when we are overloaded on sugar, our body can become very acidic and inflamed. This can help!
Vitamin B. Try Country Life Coenzye B - complex capsules. nadequate utilization of the carbohydrates that you are eating can make you feel like you simply need to eat more carbohydrates, so you can take a Vitamin B complex to help with carbohydrate metabolism so you make better use of the carbs you do have.
Magnesium Threonate - there are absolutely dozens of known benefits of magnesium. A proper use of it has been tested and proven to increase resilience to stress, lift mood, raise your energy levels, improves concentration and focus and reformation of sleep quality. It is also excellent for a broad variety of conditions that are not linked to brain health like muscle cramps, asthma, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Avoid going cold-turkey. Cut down slowly and negotiate one sweet per day.
Explore a healthier version and elevate the quality. Check out your local health food store and find something new and exciting to try.
Try naturally sweetened food first, like fruit!
Gluten allergy? Food allergies to gluten can readily be attached to sugar. Gluten can cause fatigue, post-nasal drip, achy joints, and more. This is uncommon, but it is worth looking into if you’re experiencing these symptoms.
Finally, we are changing a habit of the body. It takes time and effort. Be gentle with yourself during this time. Beating yourself up and feeling guilty will NOT help. As an Eating Psychology coach, I know that food issues are never really about food in the end, but a deeper wisdom and message from your body that there might be something else that needs your attention and care. So, this holiday season, be sweet to yourself.