To die for foods.
How many times in our lives have we uttered the words, “I’d die for a piece of that”? I wish I had a dollar for every time I have uttered those very words for a piece of cake, a slice of pizza, plateful of BBQ, and on and on…
We have all said this about any number of foods and drinks.
We say these words in jest, but when the rubber meets the road, we also begin getting serious about them.
How often have you considered how angry it might make you when a doctor, loved one, or maybe a nutritionist has advised you to quit eating certain foods that you crave? You know – the foods you say you’d die for when the cravings hit. For myself, there have been plenty of occasions where I have said I’d die for BBQ and beer on a hot sunny day. Or conversely, in the winter time thinking I’d die for a hot cup of cocoa with a plate full of cookies.
We get these cravings and most people never think about how they might actually cause their demise.
Most of us have likely known at least one alcoholic who had no control over their alcohol consumption. Maybe you have encountered a drug addict over the course of your life too. And, I believe it is fair to say that everyone has known a few smokers over the years.
What each of these addictive behaviors have in common is that the users feel as if they can’t just walk away from their addictions, and a lot of them often believe they can quit before it has a great effect on their health. Alcohol, drugs and tobacco rarely kills the first time one uses them. Poor health and death is something that creeps up on the one who is addicted over the course of time.
Well, the cold hard truth is, these addictions are really no different than an addiction to foods. Except that almost no one wants to think their dietary habits will ever cause them sickness, or death. When cravings for those foods you’d die for hit, this is your addiction wanting a fix. The problem is, this addiction is never for healthy foods. No, these cravings are almost exclusively for foods that have unhealthy fats and added sugars. Additionally, even if the cravings did come for healthy foods, they are not going to have a detrimental effect on your health. As with alcohol, tobacco and drugs, you have little self control over the cravings as long as you are consuming the products.
It is more than obvious that eating sugary foods has become ingrained into our lifestyles and routines. A spoonful of sugar gives our coffee a pleasant taste, and we all know how dessert is often the best part of dinner. Me personally, I used to love the old adage that “when you eat dessert first, you know you will always have room for it”.
If you’ve ever tried to cut back on sugar, you may have realized how incredibly difficult it is.
For some people it may seem downright impossible.
This leads to the question: can you be addicted to sugar?
First off, yes you can be addicted to sugar, and it can lead to health problems over time. This is not a matter of self control when you are craving some sweet treat that you would die for. Sweet foods are highly desirable due the powerful impact sugar has on the reward system in the brain called the mesolimbic dopamine system. The neurotransmitter dopamine is released by neurons in this system in response to a rewarding event. You are not a weak individual for your cravings. You are an addict, whether you want to think of it that way or not.
Drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines and nicotine hijack this same brain system as do sweets. When we activate this system, it leads to intense feelings of reward that can result in cravings and addiction. So drugs and sugar both activate the same reward system in the brain, causing the release of dopamine.
This chemical circuit is activated by natural rewards and behaviors that are essential to continuing the species, such as eating tasty, high energy foods, and interacting socially. Activating this chemical circuit makes you want to carry out the behavior again and again, as it feels good and we all know this. Because of this chemical circuitry our attention can be very easily drawn to cakes and chocolates when we’re not necessarily hungry. Even our normal, daily routines can cause sugar cravings. We can subconsciously want a bar of chocolate or a fizzy drink in the afternoon if this is a normal part of our daily habits.
We actually build a tolerance to sugar!
Repeatedly eating sugary foods causes repeated activation of our dopamine reward system just like drugs and alcohol will. For example, when we consume lots of sugary foods, this causes our brains to adapt to the frequent reward system stimulation. When we enjoy lots of these foods on a regular basis, the system starts to change to prevent it becoming overstimulated. In particular, dopamine receptors start to down-regulate.
The problem we now face is that there are fewer receptors for the dopamine to bind to. Therefore, as we continue to consume these sweetened foods, their effect becomes blunted. As with drugs and alcohol, more sugar is needed over time so we consume more in order to get the same feeling of reward. This is similar to tolerance in drug addicts, and leads to escalating consumption. The negative consequences of unrestrained consumption of sugary foods include weight gain, dental cavities and developing metabolic disorders including type-2 diabetes. Sugary foods are going to affect your health over the course of time my friends.
You’re probably consuming more sugar per day than experts would recommend.
If you are not currently living with the health consequences of sugar consumption, how can you tell if you are consuming too many foods with added sugars?
First, look at your body in the mirror. You know if you need to lose weight or not when you look at yourself. You do not require a doctor to tell you this, you already know.
Next, step on your bathroom scales. If you are not afraid to look at the number it reads, you probably have little to worry about. Check your number against a BMI chart. Note – unless you are muscle bound, the BMI chart is a pretty accurate means to know if you carry too much body fat.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that an adult living on a standard 2,000 calorie diet should aim to consume about 25 grams of sugar per day. A single can of coke contains 44 grams. I would recommend you just quit sugar entirely if you have an issue of too much body fat, there are several alternatives nowadays that are just as good but will not lead you to poor health in the way that sugar can.
Are you aware that the average American consumes 17 teaspoons (71.14 grams) of sugars per day – more than three times WHO’s recommended standard! Part of the blame must be placed on America’s wealth of sugary food options, some capable of fooling even the health-conscious consumer. One cup of Dannon Low-Fat Vanilla Yogurt, for example, contains a soul-crushing 34 grams of sugar. You have to read labels my friends, it is not difficult. You just need to get into the habit of doing so.
Note: this article is about added sugars that are put into foods, and not natural sugars that are found in foods such as fruit. In most cases, the health benefits of such foods, such as fiber and potassium content, outweigh the risks of their natural sugars.
The health risks of too much sugar.
If you have a problem of eating too much, especially eating too many foods with added sugars, here are a few of the health risks you will burden yourself and your loved ones with:
higher blood pressure
inflammation which is often a precursor to disease
Each one of these conditions are linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
Identifying added sugars.
There are types of sugar that are easy to spot, such as sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup. Other sugars, such as honey, molasses, and sugar in the raw, masquerade as healthy alternatives, but still carry calories and raise blood sugar. The “-oses,” such as sucrose and maltose, are also sugars. And we often find them in foods we’d die for.
Sugar comes in many forms, and under a vast array of names to fool you. When you see any of them on the list of ingredients, you can be sure that they are adding to the added sugar total.
These are some sugars you may see in the list of ingredients:
Common Solid Sugars
Sugar in the raw
Liquid Sugars and Syrups
Brown rice syrup
Sugars without “Sugar” in the Name
Dehydrated cane juice
Concentrated fruit juice
Pear juice concentrate
Apple or grape juice concentrate
Is there really any foods that you would die for? I seriously doubt that any sane person would say yes to that. But, as with alcoholism and drug addiction, we know there are foods we cannot imagine living without. We want you to live a long and healthy life. This is entirely NOT based on how you look. What we do at David’s Way to Health and Fitness is entirely about helping you to be healthy through a lifestyle that revolves around good dietary practices instead of poor dietary habit that will eventually harm your health.
We want you to enjoy your life, and to be able to live it to your fullest.
After reading this, in closing, are there really any foods that you’d die for?
The good news is you don’t have to. Follow us and learn all that you need to know about healthy weight loss, and weight management. We are, and always will be free to all. No one will ever be nothing more than a perpetual income stream to us in the same manner as you would be to “corporate” weight loss businesses.
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