I’m sugar addicted. No excuse. Chocolate, cake, muffins, ice cream, gummy bears, marzipan, you name it. I can’t resist and when I start I can’t stop anymore. Instead of eating a little piece of chocolate, I eat the whole bar. The gummy bear bag is so fast empty, that they have no chance to escape. For a good marzipan piece, I would do nearly everything. In all this kind of food is a lot of sugar and I love it. I need it. Really?
What is sugar?
Sugar is the generic term for: glucose (dextrose), fructose (fruit sugar), galactose (milk sugar), sucrose (table sugar). Sugar is the simplest form of carbohydrates. And it is nearly in everything we eat and drink today.
Why we need sugar?
Without sugar our brains can’t work properly (sugar and brain). The brain uses one-half of all sugar energy in the body. If there is not enough fuel (sugar) for the brain we have poor attention and poor cognitive function. Basically all our cells are using sugar as energy source and all carbohydrates are broken down during digestion into glucose. Even our fat reserves are used to produce glucose. If we are, for example, engaged in a endurance activity and our glycogen storage in the muscle and liver are depleted and we don’t eat anything, the body starts to use body fat to produce glucose for our muscle and brain.
Why it is bad to eat a lot of sugar?
If our brains and cells need sugar for working properly, why is it bad to eat sugar? Paracelsus said “The dose makes the poison”. And that’s the problem. I eat a lot of sugar, too much for my body. The pancreas regulates the blood sugar level with insulin and glucagon. If the sugar level is high, insulin is produced to reduce the blood sugar and if it is too low, glucagon is released which triggers the liver to increase the blood sugar level. After a meal sugar is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. If this storage is full, sugar is converted to body fat. The bad things is now, that if this happens too often, some of the following can and will happen.
All what I don’t want and which can lead to plenty of other problems. To name a few, cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, foot ulcers and damage to the eyes. My father, who died mid February 2019, had it all.
How to reduce my sugar consumption?
- Don’t buy sweet stuff. If it is not easily available I can’t eat it.
- Replacing sweet things with something healthier. Instead of eating a chocolate bar, eating an apple or a carrot.
- Only drinking pure water.
- If I really have the need for a chocolate, then a dark variant with more than 75% cacao. More cacao simply means less sugar.
- Replacing sugar for cooking/baking with something like stevia.
- Checking the labels of packed food for the ingredients and if there is too much sugar in, I leave it on the shelf and search for an alternative with less sugar
Before starting to eat something sweet I will ask myself the following questions:
- Why do I want to eat this right now?
- Am I really hungry at the moment?
- What do I feel (am I bored, unhappy, excited, etc. ) at the moment when I seem to need something sweet?
I hope to get some insights why I seem to need something sweet and then starting to change my behavior.
Will it be easy to reduce my sugar consumption?
No. It was and is one of my biggest challenges. Eating less sweets is incredible hard for me. The sugar gives me some form of satisfaction and my cravings are strong, when I try to eat less. But I have no choice. I want to get leaner, fitter and help my body and brain to stay healthy.