Author Steven Lake

My journey with sugar (and the surprising result)
Friday, February 23rd, 2018 5:14pm
Keywords: Sugar, Eating Right, Education, Learning, Health, Food

Okay, some of you are probably looking at that title thinking, "Wait, what!?  What you talking about, Willis?"  I mean, sugar is a daily part of our lives.  In fact, it's such a big part that most of us don't even take notice.  I think it was a couple years ago by now that I took the leap.  I reached a point in my life that I decided, "I'm going cold turkey and completely ditching ALL sugar from my life!!"  That's a great an admirable goal, but also very narrow minded and short sighted.  Why?  Because I was saying that I was dropping all white sugar, the stuff we normally think about when we think sugar.  Honestly, that couldn't be further from the truth.  Let me explain.

Sugar, is an integral part of everyday life.  It's in many of the beverages we drink, the foods we eat, and even in things like cough drops and certain OTC pain killers.  Yes, sugar is everywhere.  Literally.  The main reason we don't think about it is we're used to thinking of it as that crystallized white stuff you get in a 4lb bag in the store.  Sugar though is far more complex than that.  Do you realize that wood is actually a sugar?  Yes, a very highly complex sugar that's not digestible by the human body, but still it's a sugar.  Every single fruit has sugar in it.  Wheat does too, as does rye and any other cereal crop.  They start out as complex sugars and are eventually reduced down into simple sugars later on, either through processing or digestion.

Honey is a sugar.  Carrots have sugar.  Beans and Tomatoes have natural sugar in them.  And so on, and so on.  But I digress.  In the end, no matter what it is we eat, it's not sugar that's the problem.  It's how much sugar and what kind that becomes the issue.  Processed, artificial and GMO sugars are some of the worst you can have and will destroy your body.  The problem is, in our society they're everywhere.  Natural sugars on the other hand can actually be beneficial to your body.  So if you want sugar, take the time to find natural, authentic, and if you want to use the term, "organic" sugars, as they are the best.  When it comes to white "table" sugars, pure cane sugar is best.  Now that doesn't mean you should go out and eat it by the 4lb bag.  Nope, everything needs to be in moderation, and that seems to be a lost art these days.

We're far too quick to grab the cookie or the sugary soft drink and gulp them down.  Why is that?  I think the biggest answer is, as a society we're stressed.  We're EXTREMELY stressed.  Like, ridiculously stressed.  Far more stressed than we should be, and that's entirely our own faults as we do it to ourselves.  So what happens when we get stressed?  We head for those things that comfort us, which is usually something sugary.  IE, comfort foods, and sugar is one of the biggest.  And this is only a fraction of what I learned in my journey to be sugar free which, I will confess, I didn't succeed at.  But, I'll explain why, although I partially did above.

Anyhow, at some point a few years back, during an especially stressful time in my life, I decided, "Hey, I'm gonna completely stop consuming ALL sugar!" and then went on the warpath against sugar in my life.  Well, that started out all fine and dandy, right up until day 3 of my sugar fast.  That's when the withdrawal symptoms kicked in, and wow, talk about feeling like you got run over by a freight train.  After that experience I kinda understand how recovering drug addicts feel.  Well, anyhow, I struggled my way through that and even fell off the wagon a few times along the way, but by the end of the first month I was sugar free!  Or so I thought.

In trying to make sure I was completely sugar free I decided to do some research to make sure I wasn't missing anything.  Um, well, that started out all fine and good, until I realized the ridiculous amount of stuff I'd have to give up to be completely sugar free.  Here's a short list of some of it: Bread, Cheese, Milk and all milk products (yes, milk has sugar in it, believe it or not, natural or otherwise), all fruit, half of the vegetable family, ALL starchy foods (ie, potatoes, certain legumes, etc), and so on, and so on.  In short, by the time I would have cut out everything that either was a sugar, contained a sugar, or became a sugar, I was left with meats, oils, and a handful of nuts and vegetables that didn't fall into one of those three categories.

Yet the odd part is, our ancestors didn't have an issue with sugar in the past.  Okay, sure, they didn't eat as much of it as we did, but they still had it in spades, especially if you consider that bread, potatoes and similar starchy foods made up a large portion of their daily diet.  So now I was stumped, wondering how could I strip sugar out of my diet and do it in a healthy way.  Well, oddly enough, I discovered that stripping sugar out actually isn't as great an idea as so many would like you to believe.  Ultimately it came down to not what, but rather how much.  Now the what is important too, but the quantity is the big clincher.  First off, anything that is either sugar, contains sugar, or becomes sugar must be matched with your daily life style.

So in other words, if you're out there hacking down forests as a lumberjack or building massive structures by hand where you're burning through 10-20k calories a day, then hey, go eat whatever you want.  If you're that physically active every day, you need that food, and those calories, just to survive.  However, if you're like me with your butt firmly planted in a chair for 8, 10, 12 or more hours in a chair, then yeah, you should be consuming an absolute minimum of these items.  Not going cold turkey, but certainly eating very, very little.  And if you're finding yourself having trouble staying away from them, then you need to figure out why, and that why is usually stress.  Find a way to fix the stress, and you fix the sugar cravings along with it.

Remember, sugar is a comfort food.  It makes us feel better when we're feeling bad.  So the better we feel, the less of it we're inclined to eat.  And I know that from experience.  In times in my life when I've been the most stressed, it's been those same times that I've had the strongest craving for sweet things.  Sweet stuff should be a treat, and should be taken in moderation.  Also, you need to understand that sugar, if used improperly, creates a drug like high and crash that your body reacts to.  The harder the swing, the more desperate the cravings.  Remember my statement about how, when I finally went cold turkey, that suddenly I started having those really insane cravings for sugar and the really bad withdrawal symptoms?

That's that addition effect.  Why do you think McDonalds, or Taco Bell or really any fast food place, keeps so many customers coming back?  They specially engineer their food to be addictive by creating that high and crash effect.  A McDonald's spokesman has even admitted as much multiple times in live interviews.  It's how they can take a horrible, substandard food product and keep you coming back time and again demanding more.  And it really is disgusting food.  And I'm not saying that as a McD's hater.  I used to be one of those McD's addicts.  They got me hooked on their food really badly for a while, and it took me years to break that addiction.  Oddly now, when I go there, I can't even stand to walk in the door because the odors sicken me.

And the food?  Yeah, won't touch the stuff.  I also used to be a big fan of Taco Bell, Wendy's, Subway, etc.  Oddly enough, since pealing myself away from fast food in general, all of the fast food places I used to think were amazing have been revealed to be the "junk food" that they are.  But anyhow, I digress.  My point here in talking about them is to cover the "what not to eat" category when it comes to sugar.  Definitely avoid fast food at all costs, and all non-organic food for the most part.  There are some foods out there that are still good for you that haven't been given the GMO treatment, but they're getting harder to find outside of the organic world.

And processed foods of any kind, wow.  And that includes things like low fat milk and cheese too.  You need whole fat, non-homogenized if you're going to have milk.  Trust me.  Your body will thank me.  And sugars?  Pure, straight up sugars?  It's either pure cane sugar or honey, or nothing at all.  That includes brown sugar and molasses made with cane sugar.  (molasses is a byproduct of can sugar production, just FYI)  Avoid beet sugar at all costs.  It's made from GMO beets and is bad for you.  But anyhow, by this point I'm just rambling and really have only just touched the most basic elements of this whole process.  What you need to do is to go out to the numerous holistic sources on the internet and do your own research.

There is a massive bounty of good, wholesome, beneficial information on the best things to eat, how to safely incorporate sugar into your diet that's beneficial to you rather than the current detrimental way that it's offered at large in our society today, how to spot real honey vs fake honey (yes, there's a LOT of fake honey on the market, upwards of 95% is fake or "cut", meaning some of it is real and some is filler or fake honey), and so much more.  So really, going completely sugar free, or even white sugar free, actually isn't the right answer.  Adjusting your diet to fit your lifestyle and eating foods in the correct combinations, portions and types is what counts most.

So if you want some sugar, go ahead and have some sugar.  Have it in your lemonade, your ice cream, your soda, etc.  Just be sure you know WHAT you're taking in and HOW MUCH of it and then set your diet according to your lifestyle and don't change it unless you need to.  Because that's actually the best way to deal with today's sugar problems.  The sad part is, most people are too lazy to do that, and super unmotivated to the point that they'll read this article, or one similar to it, and then just go on about their day, completely unchanged and will then wonder why in 20 years you're in better health than they are. :P

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