Sugar and Your Health

Sugar is killing you, literally. It  impairs your health, makes you more prone to disease, causes skin problems, impacts your mood, and is slowing you down.

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As a female, I have always been conscience about maintaining my weight, getting exercise and controlling portions. Over the past few months however I have really taken conscientious to a new level and am more involved in my food selections.

I have a sweet tooth. And my vice is chocolate. A craving for a bite of chocolate turned into devouring an entire bar or bag of whatever treat had found its way into my home. I realized that the more I ate the more I wanted. I wasn’t satisfying a sweet tooth anymore, I was addicted. At the same moment I was questioning my addiction, my friend Rachel suggested I watch That Sugar Film.

What an eye opener! Of course I already knew the terrible effects of sugar on many levels, but to have the science, body changes, and our society norms played out on film pulled it all together for me. It also opened my eyes to to the fact that sugar is added to most all foods. I gave up soda many years ago and I do not bake or buy dessert items to have in the house, but I was blind to the ‘added sugars’ hidden within seemingly ‘healthy’ items: salad dressing, yogurt, pasta sauce, etc. 80% of items in the grocery store contain added sugar! Wow! (Watching this documentary lead to watching many, many others–free with my Amazon Prime account.)

During my pregnancy, I ate well. Good fats, good grains, fruits, veggies and lots of water and tea. But I also gave into my sweet tooth which seemed to be a bit more intense during pregnancy. Even with trips to Culvers for custard and many chocolate treats throughout, I stayed within my weight gain goal.

Now to be completely vulnerable… My pre-pregnancy weight was 140 (ish). I gained 33 pounds during my term. I was back down to my standard weight roughly two months after the birth of our daughter. All credit for that goes to breastfeeding and my food selections as my activity was very limited during my slow recovery. On January 1, I weighed in at 142.2. This was about the same time I watched That Sugar Film.

After viewing the film, I decided I was done with sugar. No more organic raw sugar in my oatmeal, instead I used real maple syrup. No more organic vanilla yogurt (29 grams of sugar per serving!), I switched to plain and flavored with fruit and my homemade granola (yes, I’m becoming a full-fledged hippie, and proud of it). I was aware of the need to limit sugar before, but now I was determined to reduce added sugars from my diet.

The film reminded me that bread, pasta, beer, wine and other foods impact our bodies similarly to sugar. They cause a surge of insulin, unbalance our metabolism, cravings, and many other reactions when digested. So I decided to cut these as well.

A week ago I weighed in at 135. That’s a loss of 7.2 lbs. in approximately 10 weeks. I’m embarrassed by my dismal activity level over the winter, so this result was achieved by eliminating sugar from my diet and drastically reducing bread, wheat, and alcohol. I used to enjoy a beer or two with dinner. I loved toast with my oatmeal. I appreciated a bowl of pasta. But now, I avoid them. Surprisingly, I don’t miss them either. I’ve had a beer or two during this time and last night I enjoyed organic whole wheat tortillas when I made quesadillas. But they are no longer staples in my diet. And by ‘diet’ I don’t mean a plan I follow or on-purpose strategy to lose weight. I was content with my 140 weight,  but I’m very pleased with my new scale reading, and now I know my body was holding on to added fat as a result of what I chose as fuel for it.

As humans, we are not designed to process refined sugars and grains. These did not exist for our ancestors. If they had grains, it was in very limited quantities and only seasonally. We were hunters and gatherers, and our bodies are designed to process the types of foods that would have been found in nature: seeds, nuts, eggs, meat, fruits, vegetables, roots (see Paleo and ketogenic diets). We are genetically designed to effectively digest these foods. They exist in nature and are in harmony with our dietary needs. Despite popular belief, fats (good fats) and meats (grass-fed meats) are not bad for you; your body craves them and is designed to digest them to obtain energy.

Our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, is the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, and infertility. Paleo Diet Progression

Image from http://paleoatpenn.blogspot.com/2012/04/paleo-poem.html

While I don’t attach myself to a ketogenic or paleo diet (haven’t been able to give up cheese and beans), I do believe in its methodology. We have the power to heal ourselves and maintain good health if we fuel our body with what it needs. As a species we are at greater risk of disease then ever in our history. With modern healthcare passing out pills and frankenfood filling our stores, is it any wonder? Can we really not see a correlation between our health and diet and environment? The above listed diseases didn’t exist in our ancestors, and in many countries in the world today, they are not the norm. We must only look at our convenience and profit-driven American lifestyle to see the difference.

I guess this post became about more that just sugar. But if you only made one change, sugar would be the place to start. Watch the film. It is really well done. Learn what happens to your body when you consume sugar or garbage food. Learn how much sugar you are consuming without even realizing it because it is added to everything, especially processed foods and even your milk!

Other documentaries I recommend:

  • Hungry for Change
  • Of the Land
  • Ingredients
  • Food Matters

sugar cycle

Image from findyourhealthyhaven.com

honeycomb-700x899

Image from http://www.primalpalate.com/

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