Guy gives up added sugar for 1 month

Dutch TV producer LifeHunters recently created a short film (6m35s) with the highlights of an experiment where a man completely gives up added sugar,  artificial additives, and alcohol for a month.

I believe this crash approach is too extreme and completely unsustainable, but since it was just an experiment, sure, why not?

I have heard the expression “toxic environment” several times, and one of the things I like about this film is that it showcases how difficult it can be to “stay the course” when everything around you is set up to lead you into consuming food-like products, and that includes your friends. Saying one “just needs will power” is a gross understatement, and this video sort of touches that subject.
You also get a glimpse into the emotional hardship everyone should expect when first giving up sugar (even me, who took the baby-steps approach felt it). But it wears off, and afterwards you realize how much better you feel, and how the struggle was worth it.

Here’s the video, it’s short, enjoy:

Less sugar = better everything

I came across this article and even though I haven’t been able to completely give up added sugar yet (chocolate… my Achilles heel) I have SIGNIFICANTLY reduced its intake. Even without entirely removing added sugar, I can tell you I have experienced all 5 things, and there are many, many, more which aren’t listed here. Click on the link to read the article.

5 Things That Happen When You Quit Eating Sugar

Ps: Number 4 has become powerfully true for me: “Fruits will taste plenty sweet, and if you do take a bite of a cake or pie, you’ll be shocked at how overpowering and overly sweet it seems.”

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Supermarket strategies

Self-control around sugary foods is not really my strong suit. Very slowly – but surely – I have been reducing my sugar intake, but I have the feeling it will be a war I will never truly win, I’ll only win battles. 15 months after I’ve started this process I am MILES away from where I was, and have actually successfully introduced a lot more changes than I had ever dreamt I would. However, I still have a very soft spot for milk and white chocolate, and if anyone offers me any kind of desert I’m kinda powerless and can’t say no.
Eating a treat now and then is ok for most people, I guess. But in my case it means I’m taking several steps back, because on the days after I’ll feel cravings much more often and they’re stronger as well, so I have to go through that whole process again, which really isn’t nice. After Christmas it took me over a month to get back to where I was before Christmas, and I don’t really have to explain why, do I?

I tried the naive approach of “I’ll buy the chocolate now, just to have it around the house if I feel like it during the week”. AHAHAHAHAHAH, how about no? An hour or so after I get home from the supermarket the chocolate will be sitting comfortably in my stomach. My record was probably a couple of hours staying away from it. I simply cannot have sugary things in my house. Period. So this makes total sense to me:

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And how did I manage it? In the beginning, before it became a habit going on second nature, when I went to the supermarket and saw aaaaaallll those junky foods available, and some of them even happened to have a discount (extra tempting!!), I kept in mind what they did to my organs, to my metabolism, to my brain. I never gave a damn if they’re high in calories, that doesn’t matter to me. I no longer need this strategy, but in the beginning it saved me from a lot of mistakes. Also, another thing that really helped: I went to the supermarket AFTER meals, so this didn’t happen:61f9b9ecc75e83c18fdf1cec6f7079fbIt may sound silly, I know, but it’s effective. If I go to the supermarket hungry I’ll end up – unconsciously – putting a LOT more food in my cart than I actually need, and among that food will be junk, no doubt.
Even today I avoid walking by the chocolate/gummies aisle: out of sight, out of mind. I don’t feel the need to put myself to the test so see if I can resist the temptation, I simply avoid it.

Sugar = Drug of abuse (part 2)

Now that I’ve shared information about how sugar acts on your brain, I’m going to share information about how sugar acts on your liver. For that I’m relying on the 2012 “The Skinny on Obesity” documentary by the University of California, which will explain how sugar produces the same kind of reactions on your liver as alcohol abuse.

I have watched several documentaries and news stories on sugar and processed food and this one is by far the most informative. Even better, it explains things in a very accessible language. I seriously recommend you watch all 7 episodes, but if you cannot bring yourself to do that, at least watch episode 2:

Sugar = Drug of abuse (part 1)

Brace yourselves: it’s going to be a long post.

Since I was a teenager I experienced serious emotional roller-coasters whenever I tried to diet, and since my worst nutritional errors have always been sugar related (cookies, iced tea, ice cream, chocolate, gummies, adding sugar to fruit, etc!), that’s where I cut most heavily. By emotional roller-coasters I mean I could go from crying my heart out, to apathetic, to ravenous mad all within two hours or so, while also experiencing violent cravings. I tried to explain to people that what I felt weren’t simple cravings, but rather a very powerful and borderline crippling demand my mind made for sugary foods, and that no… the cravings didn’t go away after 15 minutes. I could easily go to bed craving cookies and wake up the next day still craving cookies. I heard these revolting answers too many times: “you just lack will power” or “you simply don’t want it badly enough”. To everyone who’s ever said that to anyone here’s what I have for you:
fbd

Several researches have come to a similar conclusion: sugar acts on your brain in a manner very similar to drugs of abuse like cocaine. Yes, you read it correctly: cocaine. And that means that symptoms of withdrawal are to be expected, and to those of us who have developed a sugar addiction over the years it will be unbelievably hard to get away from it. I was beyond happy when I came across this information, because FINALLY what I had always experienced had been validated by scientific research.

brain sugarOn the left is a brain on sugar, and on the right side is a brain on cocaine. Notice how the same areas light up?
And just like with other drugs you develop resistance, so you need more and more to feel the same thing. And when you don’t get your fix? All hell breaks loose.

I suggest you take the time to read this article “10 Similarities Between Sugar, Junk Food and Abusive Drugs and on part 2 of this post I will share a video by the University of California.
I hope by now you already understand the following:

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BUT, just because it’s (very) hard, that doesn’t make it impossible 😉