Sugar, the other white crystalline substance so many Americans are addicted to…
My friend Laura inquired the other day if I had ever written about how quitting sugar and artificial sweeteners has impacted me. I have written a lot about kicking it, but have never explained too much about how it has affected me to be rid of it all together.
First, I have always thought every artificial sweetener I have ever tasted was horrible. I would rather take a swift kick to the shin over eating anything with saccharine in it. That shit is vile. I never could get past the taste of it in anything. Splenda is about the only one I can stomach, yet I can certainly live without it and never miss it. Kicking artificial sweeteners has never been an issue with me.
With all the articles regarding artificial sweeteners that are available on Google, I have yet to find anything from a legit source such as the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical etc. that addressed these substances as being harmful to humans. I’m not sold that our health is at risk by eating them unless you are going through a few pounds per week which I seriously doubt anyone is doing unless they are just an oddity or something. Where I do think artificial sweeteners are bad is too many people have developed a taste for sweetness, so these sweeteners could trigger cravings on more of the mental level over anything physical. Kind of like craving more beer after during a non-alcoholic brew. The taste of a cold beer usually means a buzz is coming shortly. A taste of sweetness may trigger the mind that a release of dopamine as you would get from sugar is on its way, yet it never arrives.
As with most folks, I do like the sweet taste of sugar. There is nothing better than a warm chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven or a pan full of brownies. I like candy bars, specifically Snicker Bars and frozen York Peppermint Patties. I have a sweet tooth the same as most. Yet, for the second time in my life I have kicked sugar to the curb. This time I hope forever.
I get asked for advice all the time about how to lose weight and to keep it off. It never fails that folks will nod their head in agreement with every morsel of advice until I mention quitting sugar. I am always amazed at how mad folks can get when it is suggested that they quit eating it all together. After all, Weight Watchers says they can still eat it, so who the hell am I to say quit? Well, here goes…
By cutting sugar from my diet the first thing I noticed was the ease in which my body began shedding weight. The first several pounds were largely water because once you quit eating sugar your body’s level of sugar induced inflammation instantly begins to subside. Inflammation in our body causes fluid retention which has an obvious impact on our scale readings. Retaining water is a medical condition called “edema,” in which excess fluid accumulates in the body tissues. Your face may feel puffy, your stomach might feel bloated, your ankles and feet may swell, and you may also feel sluggish, hungry or weighed down. Another important issue regarding sugar, an overindulgence can make your body overproduce the hormone insulin, which can also cause water retention. By quitting sugar, you will see instant results.
Once I quit consuming sugar I noticed an increase in my energy levels which remain at a more even keel since I no longer have changes in my blood sugar levels or insulin spikes. I try to manage this by ensuring the complex carbs I do eat, as they are necessary, have a low Glycemic Index (GI) of under 55. Being as Type 2 Diabetes runs in my family, I really try to eat a Diabetic friendly diet despite no diagnosis of having it myself. This is a matter of being proactive to the condition rather than being reactive after the fact. Type 2 Diabetes is in fact preventable through proper diet and exercise.
By kicking sugar, I no longer feel fatigued within hours after a meal or snack. As a trucker where proper nutrition and rest are a must for safety of myself and others on the road, this is critical to get me through the early morning hours just before and during sunrise. I no longer have mental fog, and my stress levels and irritability have been greatly reduced which helps me to be a more professional driver and more importantly makes for a better home life.
Another thing which has happened since cutting sugar is I feel better rested, my quality of sleep has vastly improved. According to Clinical Psychologist Michael J. Breus, PHD, whose specialty is sleep disorders; Studies showed carbohydrate levels in the diet were associated with changes to sleep behavior and sleep architecture, including time spent in slow-wave sleep and in REM sleep. Several of the studies included in the review linked low-carbohydrate diets to increased time spent in slow wave sleep, a deep and physically restorative sleep stage—and high carbohydrate diets to less time in this deep sleep stage.