Many of you responded to my recent post about sugar in shock, regarding just how many foods are laden with the white stuff. So in an effort to expand your knowledge on this hot topic even further, I decided to write a post about the many tricks manufacturers use to fool us into thinking their products are slimming and healthy. You can read about it here.
The fact is, the way many of us consume sugar is having a detrimental, even life threatening impact on our physical, mental and emotional health. Perhaps the most alarming factor is how many of us have our head in the sand when it comes to the extent our sugar consumption is influencing our health. It is not until we make the conscious decision to go without that we gain a clear insight into its effects, not to mention sugar’s addictiveness. But with new found awareness comes the realisation of just how much sugar many of you are consuming each day.
One such person who has recently discovered the powerful influence sugar has had over his life, is a dear friend of mine, aptly nicknamed Marshmallow Man!
MM as I will refer to him, is a typical‘type A’ personality – always on the go, looking for the next challenge and never one to sit idly. With a wife and two kids, running his own business and a history of adrenal fatigue, MM had been on the search for answers to explain his fluctuating energy, overly busy brain and recent mood changes. We had often chatted about the connection between his fatigue and diet and underlying nutrient deficiencies, but it wasn’t until I was passing through town and needed a bed for the night that I discovered just how much of a sugar addict MM really was!
Over the coming weeks, MM is going to be a guest blogger sharing his personal experiences and journey coming off sugar, through ‘Diary of a sugar addict.’ I’ll also be posting my clinical feedback and explanations into MM’s withdrawal symptoms associated with coming off sugar and advice for overcoming these and making the transition to sugar sobriety.
But first a bit of back ground on MM. MM has been dependant on sugar for as long as he can recall, to pep himself up and satisfy his daily cravings. Sugar was his only vice, (unlike many other addicts who combine their sugar addiction with a healthy dose of caffeine and even nicotine – Ill be explaining the link between these three stimulants in my next post), none the less MM was self-medicating with this socially acceptable drug without even realising it, let alone the consequences of his actions. Let me also point out that MM is not overweight, not even in the slightest, he exercises regularly and is a keen surfer, when he is not suffering an episode of chronic fatigue. So how could his sugar intake be effecting his way of life you ask? Well let me begin by detailing a typical days food for MM….
Like many MM’s sugar addiction would start at breakfast, but short of pulling out the sugar jar, MM’s morning sugar hit was consumed in hidden forms. I’m talking about processed breakfast cereals, fruit juice, low fat yoghurts laden with sugar and low fat milk with a bit of honey thrown in for good measure – he thought honey was healthy because it was a natural sugar….a comment I hear from so many, forgetting table sugar is also that.
With virtually no protein in his breakfast, there was nothing to slow the conversion of his high sugar carbohydrate choices to glucose or buffer his pancreas’s production of insulin – a highly inflammatory and fattening hormone when produced in excess, not to mention disease causing. By mid morning MM would quickly find himself hungry again and searching for more (hidden) sugars.
With the intention of being healthy, MM would reach for an apple, but although this was a seemingly healthy choice, his body was yet to receive any protein to combat the insulin response to even more sugar, this time in the form of fructose.
Still unsatisfied, MM would reach for some dried fruit, yet again thinking he was making a healthy choice, but dried fruit is actually one of the highest sources of fructose, making it one of the most fattening.
Occasionally MM would make himself a whey protein shake, (I prefer one made from rice or pea protein because these are less allergenic and processed), but then he would add 300mls of ‘low fat’ milk thinking it was a healthier choice than full fat, when in reality it was just another source of hidden sugar. Another danger associated with this choice of snack, was in the form of an artificial sweetener – just as bad, if not worse than natural sugars – the fake stuff impacts on our liver and other organs. (I’ll be posting more on the effects of artificial sweeteners in an upcoming post).
Thankfully by lunch MM finally introduced a decent hit of protein in the form of tuna, accompanied with a green salad. However, believing that adding any fat to his meal was a bad thing, he would use a low fat dressing, again high in hidden sugar. MM was yet to discover that including sources of good fat in each meal would actually leave him feeling fuller for longer, not to mention reduce inflammation and the risk of developing pretty much every lifestyle disease, as well as reduce his pancreas’s production of insulin.
But it was after lunch that MM’s full blown sugar cravings would kick in. No sooner had he shovelled the last mouthful of tuna salad in his mouth and he was headed straight for the dried fruit and apples again and when these failed to satisfy, the sugar spiral began with the consumption of his favourite milk-bottle lollies to pep up his daily 3pm slump.
Dinner time would see him make a protein recovery, typically eating steak and veg – a good choice, but yet again there was no sign of any healthy fats and too much meat (more than 2-3 serves per week) is hard on the digestive system. Then it was dessert time and MM was back into the milk bottles munching down a whopping 500gms- that’s half a kilo!
If you think MM’s story so far is typical you, stay tuned as next week I break the news to MM about just how much sugar he has been consuming each day, bringing the reality of his addiction to light as he decides to embark on a journey to sugar sobriety.