With the incidence of diabetes and prediabetes conditions like insulin resistance skyrocketing across the western world, much is being written about the evils of sugar and sugar like substances.
There’s no secret, that white powder, is addictive. And really, as a society we are now paying back for the sins of the past– when we weren’t happy with just a little sugar, amongst a broad and diverse diet. Food manufacturers were piling it into their formulations – it was cheap, and people chose sweeter foods at the checkout – it was pure marketing to our collective consumer wants – but not our need. The era of low fat and high carbohydrate diets didn’t help either; many food like products were developed with processed sugars that resembled the mouth feel of fat that people preferred, but kept the fat content on the ingredient panel low.
And then there were the clever cookies that came up with the sugar substitutes, little pills or powders that made foods taste sweet, without the calories.
Much has been written and researched of these particular additives, and we now know to avoid these products as a rule.
You see, this dramatic shift in our eating habits towards a sugar laden, processed foods staple diet has sent our system for dealing with sugars and energy haywire. Our hormone insulin is responsible for managing levels of sugar and energy around the body. This system is derailed when we have highly concentrated sugars, and a diet of foods that are predominantly converted to sugars quickly – processed foods, flour baked goods, etc. Along with the physiological impact of a high sugar diet, our mental health is compromised. – Mood swings, low frustration tolerance, foggy thinking and headaches are just a few of the myriad of symptoms caused by unstable blood sugar levels, and then insulin resistance (prediabetes) and, that’s before you get to diabetes.
So, what can you do to help yourself feel better every day, living the life that you want, and having a body that responds to what you are expecting from it…
- Choose fresh, whole foods, not packaged. Packaged foods are typically laden with sugar, or carbohydrates that are converted to sugars quickly – like flours, breads, pastries, cereals, so called ‘healthy’ snack bars. These often hold other nasty ingredients/additives that you want to steer away from. By doing this, we are also sending a strong message to the food industry about the types of foods that we are prepared to buy – they are commercial enterprise and will adjust their product range because they rely on your business. Oh, and filtered water, no sweet bevvies with the exception of blended whole fruits and vegies in a smoothie.
- Eat balanced foods and meals. Combining healthy proteins and good fats with your carbohydrates helps them to be metabolised and used as energy over a period of time, so you aren’t hungry half an hour later. By eating the whole food – like whole grains, and whole fruit or vegetables, your body is accessing the fibre within that food that also slows the release of carbohydrate, and the combination of nutrients we absorb is as nature intended.
- Eat regularly. While there are studies to show the benefits of occasional short term fasting for our bodies to ‘reset’ digestion, for the most part you want to have a habit of eating good foods consistently to offer a regular supply of nutrients to your body.
- Exercise, every day. By moving your body, nutrients such as sugars are drawn through the body’s systems, necessary for ongoing function of all the complex processes in our body – oh, and it just feels good – go the endorphin release!
- If you really are a sugar addict – kick the habit with a friend, or consider keeping a journal to chart how you feel over this journey. The withdrawal symptoms can be pretty hard early on (it is an addictive substance) and it is often helpful to talk with a friend who is going through the same thing, or can be therapeutic to express how you’re feeling throughout your journey – and even look back on it occasionally, seeing how far you’ve come. It also helps you to tune into your body and how you’re feeling.
- Include a reward to yourself for sticking to your good health choices. Make it a present to yourself that is not necessarily food related, but gives you pleasure – time out for a spa routine booked at your fave beauty cave, or at home, schedule a trip to the beach or a walk in the park, whatever floats your boat!