Or we don’t want to live without it? Ever eyed out that slice of cake and debated in your mind, “should I, shouldn’t I?” Then after the voices going round and round in your head you finally cave in and eat that one slice of cake, then another and then just one more. Sugar is highly addictive and once consumed we are wired to crave more.
First of all let us look at what sugar actually is: Ordinary white table sugar is known as sucrose which consists of 50% glucose and 50% fructose. There are other sugars (glucose, maltose and lactose) which are considered safe to eat in moderation but not fructose. Remember that some sweeteners such as agave contain up to 90% fructose.
Your next question is going to be “but what about fruit?”. Yes, fruit is made up of fructose however it also contains water and fibre which make it slower releasing into our bloodstream and therefore it doesn’t spike our sugar cravings out of control.
In moderation of course like everything, rather fill up on vegetables and limit to 2 fruits a day ones with lower glycemic index such as apples and berries.
So why is fructose so bad for us? The first reason is the way our body metabolises it as it passes directly into our liver. Fructose can only be processed by the liver and is not immediately used up as energy like glucose is. This places an increased workload on our liver to break it down and fructose is stored it as fat.
Sugar fuels every cell in the brain. Your brain treats sugar as a reward which makes you crave more of it. It ticks a box in your brain which is the same release of the happy hormone dopamine. By eating more sugar you are reinforcing this reward, making it harder to break the habit.
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate which means it converts rapidly into glucose in our bloodstream. Our body needs to move glucose from our bloodstream into our cells for energy. In order to do this our pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. This can cause our blood sugar to have a sudden drop which leaves us feeling wiped out and shaky and in search of the next sugar hit to regain that sugar “high”. When eating sugar, this pattern constantly occurs setting us up for more bad eating.
Fructose is addictive and accordingly to some studies it’s more addictive than cocaine and heroin. Our bodies are designed to gorge on fructose, think back to the cavemen days when they needed instant energy for chasing wild animals! This means that we evolved with no “off switch” (or enzyme) in our brain with regards to regulating when enough sugar is enough. We can therefore continue eating sugar without getting satiated as it increases our appetite hormone (ghrelin) making us want more. Ghrelin is known as the ‘hunger hormone’ because it stimulates our appetite, increases our food intake and promotes fat storage.
So how much sugar is too much in our daily lives? Start by checking labels especially in sauces such as salad dressings, ketchup, balsamic vinegar, low fat yoghurt. Processed and pre-packaged food is the worst culprit with excess amounts of sugar being added, simply turn over the seemingly healthy meal to see how much white stuff you’re actually consuming.
If sugar is the first or second ingredient you know the sugar content is high. More than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g is high. Low is 5g or less of total sugars per 100g. Recent studies suggest that ALL sweeteners pose an issue with regards to our blood sugar. The “sweet taste” of these sweeteners can still trigger blood sugar swings and cause issues with the reward centre of the brain leading to the same addictive nature as sugar.
According to Dr. Chaterjee the following symptoms may indicate that you’re over reliant on sugar:
- Feeling the need to eat every two hours
- Concentration drop mid-morning
- Experiencing an afternoon slump
- Feeling hungry – irritability between meals
- Feeling shaky or dizzy
- Experiencing a huge boost in energy or fatigue after your meal
- Over Reliance on caffeine and sugar to ‘keep me going’
- Craving for sweet foods and snacks between meals
- Feeling light-headed if you’re late for a meal (As listed on pg.83 of The 4 pillar plan)
Free sugars are simple sugars added to food or drinks by manufacturers and also found naturally in honey, syrups and fruit juices. These are considered free as they’re not inside the cells of the foods we eat, These are the sugars we need to watch out for and are likely to consume in excess without realising like drinking a glass of orange juice without feeling full.as when fruit is turned into fruit juice, the sugars come out of their cells and become free sugars. The fibre is lost and it’s easier to consume extra sugar without realising. You wouldn’t eat four oranges in a row but you might drink their juice in one glass of orange juice without feeling full.”
- Adults should have no more than 30g of free sugars a day, (roughly equivalent to seven sugar cubes).
- Children aged 7 to 10 should have no more than 24g of free sugars a day (six sugar cubes).
- Children aged 4 to 6 should have no more than 19g of free sugars a day (five sugar cubes).
Start today by retraining your taste buds and cutting down on those sugary drinks, afternoon tea party and sneaky 4pm chocolate bars hidden in your draw. Go on do it, and let me know how you feel after 10 days!
About the Author
I’m Lindi, a mum of two gorgeous girls and the owner of LJ Nutrition. I help busy mums to think differently about food by providing easy ideas around family mealtimes. I am a registered Nutritional Therapist and use a science based approach towards the promotion of optimum wellbeing, health and peak performance. Nutritional therapists work with everyone, from healthy individuals to prevent disease or improve their diet and wellbeing, or with an individual who has health concerns to minimise their symptoms and to try uncover any contributing factors.
To retrain your tastebuds and give up sugar get in touch to find out how balancing your blood sugar can help you feel so much better, lose weight and rid yourself of any of the symptoms mentioned above.
I’ve also set up a free online community to support busy families with health ideas, quick and simple recipes, nutrition tips and a forum to answer any questions and offer support. Come and join us HERE or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org – http://www.ljnutrition.com/
Gunnars, Kris 2012-2016 Is Fruit Good or Bad For Your Health? The Sweet Truth – https://authoritynutrition.com/is-fruit-good-or-bad-for-your-health/
NHS 2018 How much sugar is good for me? – http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/1139.aspx?CategoryID=51
NHS 2018 How does sugar in our diet affect our health? – https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/sugars.aspx
Wilson, Sarah 2016 I quit sugar https://iquitsugar.com/blog/ and I quit sugar book
Chatterjee Dr R, 2018 The 4 pillar plan