" ... I know I'm naughty but why is it we tend to gravitate towards the things that are so bad for us and why the heck does PIGFAT taste so bloody good in ice cream LOL.
You would think that would be enough to turn me off eating it... really! "
Yes really, you would wouldn't you. If only it was that easy. Too many of us know the battle of fighting sugar addiction and it's side effects of ill-health and weight gain.
Thanks Chris for the comment on facebook that prompted this blog on why it is so hard to avoid bad foods even when we KNOW they are bad for us.
If you have a look at most foods that we consider 'bad' for us there is a common denominator - sugar. Well to be fair there are usually two, sugar and fat, but lets just deal with one at a time here, today it is sugar.
Even if the product itself isn't high in sugar as an actual ingredient - such as bread, bagels, pancakes - the combination of it's ingredients; wheat, sugar, grains - and what we put on it; honey, jam, vegemite, syrup - spike our blood sugars causing us to crave more of it once the high from the initial hit of sugar wears off. In obvious foods such as chocolate, lollies, iced biscuits, cakes, softdrinks etc the sugar is no secret. In more subtle products like icecream, yoghurt, crackers, even fruit, the sugar isn't as obvious but it's effects are just the same - a sugar high peak and then a crash, prompting us to feel hungry, feel down, feel tired and yes, you guessed it, crave more sugar.
Sugar also spikes a serotonin boost in our brains too, and this makes us feel good. Who wouldn't want more of that when it is so readily available. So of course we associate these yummy sweet foods with feeling good and in todays stressful environments we'll take that any way it comes, even at the sacrifice of our health, because we often don't realise why we are craving those foods.
Guess who also knows that? Right! The companies who make these sugar-ful foods. To add insult to injury, in subliminal marketing ploys they position these foods right in front of our noses and go on to tell us it is good for us - go figure!! And we are so sugar blissed out that we BELIEVE them and buy more!! And so the cycle goes.
Further hidden sugars need more explaining. In crediting our readers with having common sense, I will point out the obvious just once, eat obvious sugar foods and you will crave obvious sugar foods. That's a no brainer. So why then when we cut out obvious sugar foods do we still crave other high carb and semi-sugar loaded foods, foods that we perhaps don't immediately recognise as bad for us.
If we pick just one food group or ingredient that can make the biggest difference to reducing our sugar addiction, it would have to be wheat and/or grains. Why?
Because of it's hidden sugar effect.
Wheat is high in gluten, and as such is not only a common allergen - even to those not diagnosed as gluten intolerant, most of us are but don't realise it - but the reaction of wheat, and grains for that matter, in our bodies is to spike our insulin levels. Not only does this release the sugars into our blood stream but the gluten gets into our liver and causes it to overload on toxin removal. When it can't do that well (due to the alcohol, sugars, proteins, fats and other things it is also trying to process at the same time) our health suffers.
Ever noticed how after a heavy carb lunch we feel really full and bloated, our digestion kicks in to try and digest the combinations of foods, and we get tired. The energy required to digest sugars, grain and heavy carb toxins wears our bodies out, depleting our precious and finely balanced energy levels. Our sugar levels spike and crash and pretty soon we are napping through exhaustion or craving those carbs and sugars again, or stimulants like coffee and coke, to keep going.
Which brings me to artificial sugars.
It's common knowledge coke is full of sugar, and caffeine is an effective short term stimulant for counteracting that tired feeling mid morning and afternoon (after those high carb (sugar) breakfasts and lunches) right? Some add sugar and milk to coffee both of which stimulate that insulin level again, but everything in moderation. Imagine you could have that stimulation from caffeine when you don't especially NEED it. Imagine having a coffee just for the fun of the additional energy and buzz it offers, and it's antioxidants ... and you might like the taste too, sure. It's a habit as well, part of our culture and socialising, so enjoy it if you like it. Coke sucks though, any way you look at it. Avoid it just because it is full of chemicals and offers not a skeric of nutrition.
Lets just focus on the synthetic sugars in those fake energy drinks, in 'diet' soft drinks, and the artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame, Saccharin, Equal, Nutrasweet etc. that we add to our drinks and foods thinking we are avoiding sugar and doing a good thing. Perhaps we are lowering the calorie content of the food overall but the damage to our bodies, namely our liver, is not worth it. You are better off having sugar.
High Fructose Corn Syrup is a nasty, toxic overprocessed unnatural sweetener and should be avoided at all costs. It is so toxic to our liver it should have a warning blog all of its own. It is so bad many countries have banned its inclusion in many foods, luckily Australia is one of them. In Malaysia for example, HFCS is still used in the manufacture of Coke, among other foods. In Australia they just use straight sugar instead. In Diet Coke however - and in other diet softdrinks and diet foods as well as other commercial foods - Aspartame is used, and this artificial sweetener, also known as Additive 951, is classed as an excitotoxin.
An excitotoxin is a chemical that stimulates the neurons in the brain to excessive firing, which then fatigues and sometimes kills them, leading to serious diseases. In addition to aspartame, MSG and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins are also commonly consumed excitotoxins.
The effect of Aspartame in the body is like lead poisoning, your liver cannot process it and hence stores it's toxicity. In fact, it works to combat the very benefits we are trying to achieve by taking it; a healthy liver, and weight loss. Having too much Aspartame can cause reactions in the body much like Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus. In fact people diagnosed with Systemic Lupus often find their symptoms reduce remarkably after stopping diet softdrinks. And those who overdose on Aspartame (3-4 diet softdrinks a day) or who are allergic to it, present with symptoms of MS. Crazy huh? Crazier still are the authorities who approve it's use ... all in the name of taxes and profits. But that also is a subject for another blog. Suffice to say NutraSweet is better used as an ant killer, and is cheaper than AntRid too.
So what to use for sweetening? What is natural, nontoxic, tastes great, and considered safe as a herbal sweetener? Simple, nice and natural herb Stevia. Stevia extract comes in drops, powder and tablets. In it's purest form it is a green herb but in order to concentrate it's sweetening effect, so you don't need two tablespoons in your coffee, it is made into an extract. Yep that requires processing, but it is still better for you than any artificial or synthetic sweetener. It is considered safe to use by leading natural health professionals worldwide, many of whom openly lobby governments and health authorities on the use of artificial sweeteners.
So where to from here. For the sake of your liver, to aid weightloss efforts, to reduce bloating, to feel great and encourage natural balanced energy levels, and to help reduce the cravings for sugar, here it is in simple form:
Sugar creates sugar addiction. Sugar makes you want more sugar. Do your best to avoid sugar wherever possible. Read labels, sugar can be hidden. It only takes 4 days of avoiding sugar to break the cravings. A few more days and you will start to notice your taste buds really change in their enjoyment of other foods without sugar. You may notice some tastes become really strong, like salt, and you may even have to reduce that intake too. Salt isn't so bad if the rest of your health is ok.
Think about foods that create sugar through ingestion, there are many, but one staple ingredient you can aim to avoid is wheat if you'd like to make one really powerful change to your diet and health.
And it is easy for me to say, I agree. So how can I help you to combat those sugar/wheat cravings that will undoubtedly improve your health and weightloss efforts?
For starters, read this every day to remind yourself why you really need to make the best effort for your health's sake. Mind over matter; tell yourself you can do it, get your family or friends involved and inspire each other. Don't let that nasty simple food source get the better of you. Don't let those corporations who don't care about your health, your weight, your happiness or your liver, grow their profits on your ill-health.
An obvious one, (you were right Chris!) don't buy it then you won't have to eat it. Love your family's health too, don't buy it for them either! Reward yourself with a massage after a week of no sugar or wheat. Or, having lost several kilos, you will be happy to have a day shopping for some new clothes after just two weeks.
Get moving. Exercise creates the most amazing endorphins, makes you feel incredibly healthy and happy so you won't need to lift your mood with sugar. It will only get better with each day that you spoil yourself and your health by avoiding sugar and wheat.
Some will find it easy to stop 100% easily, and some may need to reduce gradually. Don't beat yourself up over it, congratulate for every effort, just keep it up and be consistent. Adopt the changes gradually if need be, such as:
Week one; avoid obvious sugars.
Week two; avoid wheat and sugars.
Week three; avoid alcohol, wheat and sugars.
Yes I snuck the alcohol in there. Your liver recognises alcohol as the No. 1 toxin in your body. While it has alcohol in it's system you liver can't process the sugars and ingested sugars as well as it would like to, in fact it processes nothing but the alcohol until it is all gone and then it gets to processing the food sugars, fats etc. That is why people lose weight easily when they cut out alcohol because your liver can do it's best work without it, ridding excess sugars and fats. I haven't listed alcohol in the sugars before now as some alcohols are low in sugar, some aren't, it is often the mixers that carry the greater sugar content and empty calories. Again the toxicity of alcohol is content for another blog, just consider it here for the purposes of enhancing healthy weightloss.
Increase alkaline foods. Disease can't survive in an alkaline environment. Sugar creates acidicity in the body, acidity feeds disease, alkalising reduces the effect of acid within the body. You can download an alkaline food chart from our home page. Choose foods from there. Ideally follow the 80/20 rule - 80% alkalising, 20% acidic foods. To start with, build your awareness of which foods are which, select your favourite alkaline foods and try to use them every day in meals, juices, salads etc.
To help curb the cravings for sugar, when it gets tough, try a spoonful of Apple Cider Vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice in a glass of water or diluted (no added sugar) apple juice. It will help to take the edge off, and it will aid your alkalising efforts too. Use the ACV with the 'mother' still in the bottle, Braggs is the preferred brand. Just be aware that lemon and ACV can exacerbate Candida if you are prone to that. (Good news is that by eliminating sugar and wheat you will likely find your candida improves too.)
Or if you are feeling brave try a spoonful of the SuperGreens in some water too, morning and afternoon, ideally on an empty stomach for maximum absorption. You'll get a great hit of alkalising superfood nutrition as well as a craving reduction, it will help fill you up if you are feeling hungry as well.
And finally, drink lots of water. We all know to drink 2 litres a day at least, but you can drink more. Get used to grabbing a glass of water when normally you would grab sugar. It's only 4 days to reduced cravings and better health, keep that in mind. 4 days is no time at all, but can seem ages when you are doing it.
If you are good and totally eliminate sugar and wheat everywhere else, and you would like something to enjoy as a sweet treat - a place to go if you are really in need it - you can keep one teaspoon of sugar in your tea or coffee, up to a max of two a day. Preferably tea, as it offers relaxing properties to help you along your new healthy path.
Remember also that fruit is high in sugar, and even though it is natural sugar, or fructose, it still creates or adds to the cravings. Low sugar fruits to enjoy are strawberries, kiwi fruit, acai berries, and a small green apple. Acai is available as a freeze dried powder so it mixes well with yoghurt (check the sugar content - Yalna low fat Vanilla yoghurt is reasonably low in sugar and has no artificial additives). Being less than 2% sugar Acai is a fruit that helps to balance your blood sugars, offers fibre that fills you up, has omegas 6 & 9 too, but best of all it is a proven and highly effective antioxidant which helps fight free radicals in the body (disease and inflammation) too.
Riolife's Acai is the only Acai in Australia that doesn't add citric acid. Being as citric acid is as toxic as MSG you're doing your body a favour avoiding it at all costs. Balance Acai's omegas with Chia seeds to add Omega 3, which will also fill you up some more and add more organic nutrition to your body, aiding the weightloss side of things if that is your motivation. Simply chew them, mix them in yoghurt with acai, soak them and add to your smoothie or sprinkle them over your salad or in your water bottle.
Well there you have it. There is so much more I could continue with on this subject, but lets remember what this blog is about, sugar addiction and what to do about it.
Good luck with your efforts. Contact me on facebook if you have any comments or would like some suggestions to help you along. A 7 day Superfood Menu will be coming soon, so get your sugar cravings under control in the meantime and your liver will be ready for the new and improved food choices, not to mention your body ready to absorb the enhanced nutrition from some exciting superfood recipes and meal choices.
Until then, stay happy, healthy and rock on!!