In my first post about “sugah” (as we say in the South), I confessed my chronic denial of sugar’s effect on me and of how much I actually consumed every day. The “jig was up” the day I realized that my Dad and I shared similar symptoms of his diagnosed pre-diabetes.
Let me stop here to say Happy Birthday to our Dad. As I told you in Part One of this post, he thinks he is Crocodile Dundee. I say that because he fearlessly treks through the jungles of Papua New Guinea, the Amazon and any forbidden forest where he may find lonely souls and open hearts. Of course, he drags our little “Mommy Martha” along with him wherever he goes, which worries us to death. But, she seems to love it! And all the diverse individuals and various tribes they meet adore them. Happy Birthday, Mickey Daddy!
So back to my story— as I mentioned, I started researching the effects of sugar on humans and decided to go off of sugar entirely – cold turkey – for six months. I read that six months is how long it takes to essentially “kill” or starve out the core of yeast that becomes embedded in your intestines over time. I am paraphrasing, and I am certainly not a medical expert. But I will say that my experience seemed to affirm what I was learning. I encourage you to start exploring the plethora of information on this subject for yourself.
Here is an example of some of the scientific finding and information that is available:
- Sugar stimulates the brain’s reward centers through the neurotransmitter dopamine exactly like other addictive drugs.
- Brain imaging (PET scans) shows that high-sugar and high-fat foods work just like heroin, opium, or morphine in the brain.
- Brain imaging (PET scans) shows that obese people and drug addicts have lower numbers of dopamine receptors, making them more likely to crave things that boost dopamine.
- Foods high in fat and sweets stimulate the release of the body’s own opioids (chemicals like morphine) in the brain.
- Drugs we use to block the brain’s receptors for heroin and morphine (naltrexone) also reduce the consumption and preference for sweet, high-fat foods in both normal weight and obese binge eaters.
- People (and rats) develop a tolerance to sugar—they need more and more of the substance to satisfy themselves—just like they do for drugs of abuse like alcohol or heroin.
- Obese individuals continue to eat large amounts of unhealthy foods despite severe social and personal negative consequences, just like addicts or alcoholics.
- Animals and humans experience “withdrawal” when suddenly cut off from sugar, just like addicts detoxifying from drugs.
- Just like drugs, after an initial period of “enjoyment” of the food the user no longer consumes them to get high, but to feel normal.
When I first cut sugar out of my daily diet, I began to realize that I kept my blood sugar artificially elevated throughout the day by not eating real food until dinner. I often skip breakfast, and once hungry would just grab a granola or protein bar. Then by early or mid-afternoon, drink a soda or sweet drink (or the occasional milk shake) to keep going.
Without the sugar option, I was forced to eat real food. I was also forced to read labels. If you try this, you will be shocked to see how much sugar is added to EVERYTHING! I had to face the reality that I was actually letting sugar silently ruin my health.
It was much more difficult than I imagined it would be, simply because I believed I did not have an issue with sugar AT ALL! It took about two months to replace my typical daily eating habits with real food. I decided that I couldn’t handle depriving myself of anything else, so I added back breads and pastas. I was sure I would actually gain weight.
Since my goal was to avoid diabetes and get the feeling back in my feet, I decided it didn’t matter. But, to my surprise, I didn’t gain any weight. And then, after about four months, I started losing weight! I couldn’t believe it, because I felt like I was eating more food than I had ever eaten in my whole life. Then the weight just started falling off! By the end of that six month experiment, I had lost 35 pounds!!!!
As I said last time, I felt that it would be most memorable to share my story during February, the sweetest month of the year. Wait until next week to think about all this, and I will share more about my sugar journey later. Enjoy Valentine’s Day to the fullest! Most importantly, I hope you get lots of sweet kisses from your “sugah” (or your “honey”:-).