This article is shared with permission from our friends at I Quit Sugar.
So, you think you’re consuming too much sugar.
If these signs and symptoms sound familiar, it might be time to ditch the sweet stuff…
1. Your sugar cravings are through the roof.
Sugar addiction is very real. In fact, studies have shown that sugar triggers the same reward and craving system as addictive drugs. When you eat sugar, your pleasure centre does a happy dance and releases the feel-good chemical, dopamine. And worse still, as you consume more sugar, your tolerance for it increases too. This is why your body begins to crave sweetness more frequently as it is literally looking for its next hit of sugar!
2. You’re constantly hungry.
Another charming side effect of excess sugar consumption are the constant hunger pangs. Research shows that consumption of high-fructose foods decreases the production of leptin – the hormone that tells your brain you’re full. At the same time, sugar also affects the suppression of ghrelin – the hormone which tells the brain you’re hungry. On top of that, sugar causes inflammation in the hippocampus, which is responsible for receiving the “I’m full” messages from your body. With these two processes working against your brain, it’s no wonder that it can’t detect the feeling of fullness!
3. You’ve gained weight.
There’s no two ways about it: fructose can make you fat. Studies have shown that no matter how many calories you eat, if you eat fructose, you will put on weight. An interesting piece of research even discovered that mice who ate calorie controlled portions of food – which included fructose – had increased body weight, liver fat and fat mass around their vital organs. And, these fructose-fed mice were 69 per cent heavier than the mice in the study who were fed a calorie controlled glucose diet.
4. You have regular mood swings.
So, back to how sugar activates the pleasure centre in your brain… By releasing sweet, sweet dopamine, a chain reaction kicks off whereby your brain celebrates the flood of feel-good hormones. But, once the sugar high wears off, your body is left searching for more. This is where mood swings begin to appear as your body is literally screaming out for some more happy hormones.
5. Your skin breaks out constantly.
Acne can be a physical symptom that you’re eating too much fructose. And let’s be honest, battling pimples as an adult is the last thing you want to be dealing with. Sugar encourages breakouts because it causes inflammation in your body. This inflammation can lead to acne in the form of whiteheads, blackheads and red lumps which congregate on your chin. The sweet stuff also spikes blood sugar levels, which can encourage oil production. Not ideal.
6. Your energy levels are lacking.
We all know what a sugar high feels like – you experience sudden bursts of energy, which disappear just as quickly as they came. The rollercoaster leaves your body exhausted and you begin to crave sugar again. If you feel like you’re constantly coming down from a sugar high, chances are you’re overdoing the fructose.
7. You have difficulty concentrating.
Do you often feel foggy and unable to concentrate on tasks for extended periods of time? Studies have shown that excessive amounts of fructose can impair your brain function. Not only does it mess with your brain’s ability to detect satiety, but it also affects your learning capacity and memory. Your brain needs glucose to function properly, but fructose only hinders your brain performance.
If you still need convincing to quit sugar, here are seven things you can look forward to when you ditch the sweet stuff…
1. Clearer skin.
Quitting sugar is possibly the cheapest anti-wrinkle treatment you could ever wish for! Not only can you look forward to clearer skin when you ditch sugar, but you can also expect a reduction in wrinkles. Sugar consumption speeds up the ageing process due to its ability to break down collagen – the protein which keeps your skin plump and wrinkle-free. So, by cutting fructose out of your daily diet, you can slow down ageing. Surely that’s enough incentive?!
2. Stronger immune system.
Sugar has the ability to suppress immune function thanks to its inflammatory properties. Consuming excess amounts of added sugar also inhibits the process of phagocytosis, which is the body’s way of expelling bacteria and viruses. Phagocytes move through blood vessels and tissues, hunting out disease-causing toxins in your body. Sugar inhibits this process, which opens up your body to getting sick. Rid yourself of sugar however, and you’ll be giving your immune system a helping hand.
3. More energy.
Put simply, once you begin eating whole foods, your energy balances out. In fact, people who have completed our 8-Week Program found that quitting sugar gave them more energy!
4. Weight loss.
Losing weight is usually a side effect of kicking your sugar habit to the curb. While not everyone loses weight, a lot of people do find that they lose bulkaround their face and abdomen. When you limit your intake of fructose, you also stop eating processed foods which are filled with empty calories. If you don’t shift any weight after quitting sugar, don’t stress! It just means that your body was already at its healthy weight.
5. Reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of disorders, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Research shows that sugar has a causal role in metabolic disease, as it promotes higher body weight and fat gain. In fact, studies have proven that consuming one serve of soft drink a day increases the risk of heart attack or heart disease by a whopping 35 per cent. Ditch the sugar and you’ll be lowering your risk of developing these serious conditions.
6. Better moods.
Sugar consumption can cause anxiety, crankiness and even depression in some people. So, cutting it out of your diet can increase your moods greatly. And, because your body is no longer under the stress of constantly craving sugar, your moods even out!
7. Food freedom!
This is possibly the most liberating outcome of quitting sugar. When you find food freedom, you’re no longer a slave to sugar. No longer will you suffer debilitating cravings, freeing up room in your mind for other things. When the sugar stranglehold is no more, you are firmly in control.
Healthy Holistic Living Edit:
Try the 7 Day Healthy Eating Challenge
Here are the rules:
- Drink water throughout the day
- Every meal must be at least 50% plant-based
- No fast food (chips, cookies, cake, looking at you…)
- No added sugar (that means you’ll be reading the nutrition label on everything. Here’s a hint: save the time and eat whole foods)
- No alcohol
- No soda (that includes diet soda, too!)
It’s only seven days, but if you’re willing to stick to these simple rules for a week, you might be surprised to see how quickly your body responds and adapts to a diet without junk in it. It helps to keep a journal of your meals and snacks so you can stay accountable to yourself.
This is not a diet. It’s a mental challenge. You’re not counting calories, you’re not starving yourself, you’re not giving up flavor. What you are doing is re-training your brain and your body to recognize and enjoy real food again. It’s a simple step to help you cut out all of the excess sugar for good.