Small wins

Do you have a bad habit which you’ve been trying to quit since a long time without any success? For me, it has been my addiction to sugar. I’ve been heavily dependent on sugar for my constant source of happiness ever since I was a kid. I didn’t understand the repercussions of having such a dangerous addiction back then. More than the health hazards, I wanted to quit sugar to gain more control over my decisions. I have a tendency to indulge in sugar and sugary foods whenever I am sad or low in life. The cravings I get during such phases are massive and I have absolutely no control over the amount of sugary food I dump inside my body. I ate (rather gobbled up) sweet food for the sake of it, sometimes to feel better, many a times to punish myself for not working hard enough.

I spent many months and years into controlling my sugar cravings. Initially I restricted myself which backfired as I ended consuming double the quantity later on. As restricting completely didn’t work I decided to allow myself a cheat day. This also was counter productive as I consumed large portions even during my cheat days. Then I started learning about the ill effects of sugar consumption. The facts connected to this topic blew my mind yet it wasn’t enough to gain control back from sugar which wholly controlled my cravings. What I didn’t know was that all my efforts were getting counted even if the visible progress seemed slow. I would call “meditation” a breakthrough in my struggle to quit my sugar addiction. I gained more clarity and have been feeling a slight decrease in my sugar cravings.

26 days of continued mediation streak later, I finally had my eureka moment today. I ordered a bunch of sugary foods as I was feeling a bit dejected due to my office work. I picked up one pastry with the intention of eating another one after it. Halfway through eating the cake I realized I found it too sweet for my liking and couldn’t finish. This has never happened before. I could never control my mind when it comes to sugary food but I did it today and it felt extremely empowering. I will test few more times to be completely sure of it. As of now I am celebrating as this incident made me extremely happy!

If you believe something, you can make it happen. That’s all you need.  

Franklin A. Ohiozebau

Sugar please!

#85/100

I’m not really addicted to anything in life except of course overthinking, procrastination, laziness at times, staying inside my comfort zone and the list goes on. But we aren’t discussing these superficial addictions today. I’ve grown with a massive sweet tooth. There was a time when I could gulp down multiple bars of chocolate in one sitting (won’t state a number here, it still freaks me out!). It wasn’t because I had an appetite for it or I was hungry, my mind craved it in large quantities whenever it had to deal with any kind of negative emotions in life.

So what really is sugar?

Sugar in any form (natural or refined) is a source of carbohydrate. When consumed, our body converts it into glucose and uses it for energy. Natural sugar is found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and dairy. Refined sugar or table sugar is extracted from sugar cane plants or sugar beets. The sugar cane plants or sugar beets are washed, sliced and soaked in hot water to extract the sugary juice. The juice is filtered into syrup, further processed into sugar crystals by extracting molasses and undergoing a chemical refining process to give it the super white color.

What happens to the body when we consume sugar?

Natural sources of sugar contain other nutrients such a fiber in fruits or protein in dairy which slows down the digestion process and gives our body time to convert sugar into glucose. Refined sugar on the other hand is empty calorie devoid of any nutrients. When consumed, our body digests it in no time without making the stomach feel full. By the time we are full, the damage is already done as we end up consuming huge quantities of sugar. Once sugar passes through the blood stream, our pancreas secrete a hormone called insulin which is responsible for allowing the body to use glucose from blood for energy. When we consume large quantities of food containing refined sugar, our body metabolizes sugar quickly and causes a sudden spike of insulin and glucose. Depending on the amount of sugar already in the bloodstream, excess sugar is stored in body as fat (future source of energy).

Why does the mind crave sugar when we are stressed?

The reason behind this goes back to evolution. Food was a scarce commodity in the primitive times. Food, especially the sweet ones, owing to it’s high energy content triggers the pleasure point in our brain. When we eat sweet food, our brain neurons release a chemical called “dopamine” which activates the “reward system” in our mind signaling a positive event. As we eat sugar, our body also secretes the hormones called serotonin and endorphins which are associated with happiness.

So why should I stop eating sugar?

Below major ill effects are associated with excess consumption of artificial or refined sugar/ based products

  • Weight gain leading to obesity
  • Increased risk of heart ailments, Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver
  • Speeds up skin and cellular aging process

How much is too much?

According to the World Health Organization, adults and children should limit their daily intake of added sugar (anything that isn’t naturally occurring such as fruits or vegetables) to 10% of the total energy intake. They also say that a further reduction to 5% or roughly 25 grams / 6 teaspoons per day will greatly benefit our health.

Sugar does give a huge surge of dopamine as opposed to fruits or vegetables leading to after lunch/dinner cravings. As the blood cells absorbs sugar, there’s a sudden drop in energy as well as the feel good element causing us to continue eating sugar to continue activating the reward system in our brain.

That was a lot of information! I’m not sharing this to scare you off from sweet food. I still prefer sweet over any savory food, hands down. We need to be aware of what we put inside our body before it starts controlling us and it’s too late to correct our mistakes. I’m trying everyday to switch to healthier options, eat more natural sources of sugar like fruits and vegetables. Jaggery is my savior, there’s also honey and coconut.

The body is our true life companion, let’s treat it well when we can so that it treats us well when we can’t! Knowing what the food we consume does to our body can be a good start to a healthier, fitter life!