There’s a lot of talk these days about “quitting sugar” or at least trying to restrict our sugar intake.
Recently my husband, Luke, and I were at a celebration party. Over the course of the evening we mentioned to a good friend that we’d decided to avoid sugar with the exception of some fruit here and there. Our good friend threw his head back and with a friendly laugh said to me, “don’t emasculate the man!” We all laughed because our friend was making a joke and we knew he wasn’t taking a dig.
When we got home I was struck by how society views someone who makes a decided effort to avoid sugar. They are seen as a hyper-health-conscious individual who has ultimately chosen to prioritise their health over “good times.” Making healthfull decisions is also seen as a women’s responsibility and not part of a man’s world.
At first I thought this was such a strange perspective to have of someone who values her (or his) health and body. But then I saw where our friend was coming from. If you think back to your childhood parties, your teenage hang-outs, the times of late nights and laughter, you can probably remember the accompaniment of foods with added sugar. For me it is ice creams at the movies with my mum, or sponge-based birthday cakes covered with butter cream icing.
There was never a good decision made that didn’t come with lamentation and some exceptions.
As a health coach, I closely study the impact sugar has on individuals and societies. I don’t need to go into too much detail here. We’ve all heard the statistics that New Zealand is considered the third most obese nation.
But current research shows convincing evidence around the detrimental impact sugar has on our health, weight aside.
Sugars bind to proteins in our bodies, thereby changing the nature of these proteins, and causing them to become stiff and dysfunctional. These new compounds are called advanced glycation end products (AGE). AGEs produce oxidation, which damages our arterial walls, capillary walls, and other areas in the body where AGEs are formed. This damage is what heavily impacts on the development of diabetes, Alzheimers, and heart disease, just to name a few.
This is one of the reasons why Luke and I have made a decision to avoid sugar where possible. For what it’s worth, this was Luke’s decision, not mine. However, it is also my hope to see Luke grow into an old man with a wonderful quality of life. I want him to age happily and healthily, not painfully. And for us, this means ditching the stuff that leads to some of the world’s most prevalent and awful diseases.
Pratical Ways to Avoid Sugar
We know that avoiding sugar can have its obstacles, especially when you start out. This is why I noted five areas where avoiding sugar can be difficult, and have provided some practical suggestions to help you restrict your sugar intake when encountering them.
We either prepare a nourishing sugar-free dessert to take with us or buy a hot drink or red wine (if we choose to drink that evening)
Dessert at a restaurant
Go European and finish dinner with an espresso (de-caffeinated for me) or a peppermint tea. If it's a birthday celebration, one small (sugary) dessert won't hurt.
Cake at a wedding
Like most celebrations it can feel as though you are being “left-out” if you don’t take part in a slice of cake. Some of my clients feel as though they are depriving themselves. I find that it is most helpful to tell myself the truth in this situation. Either, I own my decision to avoid sugar and feel confident that I am valuing my health, or I decide to own my decision to partake in a small quantity and just move on (this one only works if you’re making the former choice more frequently than the later)
Sweet treats at the office
My husband encounters this one a lot. It works for him to remind myself of two things. Firstly, eating foods known as “treats” frequently lessens the delight of having a “treat” every now and again. Secondly, lollies and chocolates add nothing to your health or wellbeing, they only cause inbalance in your energy levels
Once you have been off sugar for around 3 weeks these cravings will subside. But in the meantime, I suggest eating something that is filled with quality fat; a slice of cheese, a spoonful of coconut oil, a sugar-free cocoa, coffee and cream, ‘fill this space.’ Luke loves having a small handful of blueberries (they’re not quality fat but are filled with wonderful anti-oxidants)
Feed, Nourish, Value Yourself.