We all know the saying about Coca Cola reportedly containing cocaine in its original formulation, don't we? Of course, they took it out a long time ago but it may be full of something even more harmful, and addictive: sugar! Or more commonly nowdays, HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup).
On Saturday I got the chance to hear Julia Ross (author of the Diet Cure and the Mood Cure) at a conference and her speech was titled, "Sugar Addiction: Confronting the Greatest Nutritional Crisis of All Time." Wow. Julia Ross brought it! I took notes until my hand almost fell off...I thought I knew how bad sugar was but I had no idea HOW BAD! I will try and summarize what I learned and then offer some tips for reducing sugar in your diet and dealing with sugar cravings
Sugar and Heart Disease were virtually nonexistent in the United States until the 1930s, when it was just beginning to be refined and sold here. Ever since then the rates of heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases have been rising along with our sugar consumption (see graph above). Sugar is not just found in obvious foods, like candies and sodas. It also comes from highly processed grains such as refined flours. Processed foods are usually full of refined flours and added sugars and usually devoid of nutrients. Unfortunately, they are usually affordable. This has helped contribute to the obesity epidemic in this country with families that are struggling to put food on the table having little choice but to purchase and consume processed, sugar-filled foods that are not only completely worthless nutrition-wise, they are harmful!
In 2006 the World Health Organization made an important nutritional pronouncement that was on the front page of every newspaper in the world....except in the United States. It said, "Our only recommendation for ending the worldwide physical and mental health crisis is to cut all sweetened foods to below 10% of calories." That would be around 250 calories for an average adult.
Why wasn't this put into our newspapers here in the good old U. S. of A? Ever hear of the Sugar Council? See, they weren't too hot on the idea if it meant people would buy and consume less sugar...
The fact is that sugar is as toxic as alcohol and 4 times as addictive as cocaine. In fact, if you give a cocaine addicted laboratory rat the choice between a hit of cocaine or a hit of saccharine, which do you think he chooses? Every time: sugar. Sugar kills 35 million people per year, worldwide.
Don't think of switching to non-sugar sweeteners either. HFCS is twice as sweet and addictive as sucrose (table sugar), equal in liver damage to alcohol, and suppresses natural appetite regulators. That's right: if you consume HFCS your brain won't get the "I'm Full" signal. Just what we need in a country in the midst of an obesity epidemic.
For even more on sugar see the LIFE-CHANGING video featuring Robert Lustig, a pediatric oncologist, as he exposes just how devastating to our health sugar is. Not many people are willing to stand up to the mighty business conglomerates in this country. People like him are heroes. By the way, he wrote a jounral article entitled, "Is Sugar Toxic?" (hint:yes) that had to be published in a journal outside of the United States (Nature, International Weekly Journal of Science). Big Business is in bed with the Government and it is unacceptable that the consequences are our health and the health of our children!
So, we all could stand to reduce the amount of this toxic chemical in our bodies. But how? Many people deal with cravings for sugar. Actually, it takes time but it is possible to break free from the vicious cycle of sugar craving.
Tips to reduce Sugar in Your Diet
- Eliminate Sodas and Fruit Juices
- Use fruit or sweet vegetables frequently so your body gets sweet satisfaction the healthy way.
- Limit sweet treats to a few times per week (or less!)
- Use whole wheat bread instead of white, brown rice instead of white rice, whole grains instead of processed ones.
- Don't add sugar to coffee or tea! Even 1 tsp. can add up if you drink multiple cups
- Avoid HCFS like the plague! Remember that it causes your brain to miss the "I'm Full" signal!
Tips to Deal With Sugar Cravings
- Eat fruits and sweet veggies throughout the day to front-load your diet with healthy sweet foods
- (sweet potatoes, yams, red peppers)
- Use agave nectar/syrup instead of sugar to sweeten things- the sweet taste comes from natural fructose which is absorbed slowly by the body. I like this on whole wheat pancakes and waffles, oatmeal, even in cooking.
- Make sure you are eating lots of healthy foods (see tip #1) and taking a multivitamin as well. Sometimes deficiencies can make cravings worse! Your body might be trying to tell you that it needs more healthy food.
- Eat throughout the day! When you are starving it is hard to make healthy food choices and your sugar cracings can really kick in. Start the day off on the right foot with a healthy breakfast (which could even be 2 pieces of fruit) and make sure you have a healthy snack every 2-3 hours between meals. Follow your WiMS: Wake-Meal-Snack-Meal-Snack-Meal-Snack or WiMS for short!
Got any great tips for reducing sugar intake or dealing with cravings? Share them here!