I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love the taste of sugar (I know I do!), but refined sugar is not a healthy choice. We may call a chocolate bar we are craving a treat for a reason—we know full well we shouldn’t be having it!
Sugar is not only very attractive, but it is also very addicting. Sugar has a similar effect on the brain as painkilling drugs like morphine and other opiates (e.g. heroin); these drugs create a satisfied and calm feeling. Unfortunately, this didn’t go unnoticed by the big food manufacturers, so they started pumping our foods full of sugar to keep us wanting more. Research has shown the world’s sugar consumption has doubled since 1980.
Though sugar is technically a form of energy, in excess it can set off an imbalance in our body. Sugar hits the bloodstream quickly, creating a rapid spike in blood sugar. Due to insulin production in the pancreas, the consumption of sugar will leave you tired and hungry. Consequently, you will get a quick burst of energy, but it will leave you drained and deprived of more energy than before consumption.
There is really nothing to love about refined sugar; it enlarges the size of the liver, increases weight, contributes to unhealthiness, and ages the body from the inside out. On top of those issues, too much sugar will expend the supply of vitamins and minerals stored in the body, which may have an impact on the immune system. This can lead to an increase in exhaustion and illness.
The best way to cut added sugars from the diet is to limit processed foods as much as possible, including cakes, sweets, biscuits, and all the foods we crave from time to time. Nevertheless, while these are fairly obvious targets in cutting sugar consumption, there is also hidden sugar in processed foods that may not register with most people as being heavily sweet. For example, a tablespoon of ketchup contains about 1 teaspoon of sugar. Also, a single can of sugar-sweetened soda contains around 10 teaspoons of sugar.
With that in mind, I tend to avoid the following foods when I can:
White refined sugar
Commercial fruit juices (most commercial fruit juices are basically just sugared water)
Bad carbohydrates (white pasta, white rice, cereals, etc.)
The sweet stuff like cakes, candy, biscuits, cookies, etc.
Low fat foods (these are usually fat-less or low in fat, but full of sugar for extra flavor)
Any foods containing lactose, fructose, maltose, sucrose, and dextrose
A far better way of getting the energy you are after, is to:
Eat complex carbohydrates instead. The best complex carbs come from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Exercise and drink water. When you exercise regularly and drink plenty of water, your body will not crave those energy boosts; you will not need to rely on toxic sugars to keep you energised.
Try including chromium. Chromium helps to control your blood sugar levels and can be found in foods such as nuts, eggs, asparagus liver, kidney, wholegrains and mushrooms.
Include dark (organic) meat into your diet. Lack of protein in your diet often causes sugar cravings. Darker meats contain more purines which have more satisfying nutrients than lighter meats.
And lastly, if you can’t beat the sugar craving, it is best to have some raw fruit. Make sure you eat them with protein and/or good fat to slow down the speed at which the sugar hits your bloodstream!