The Nutrition Message Nobody Wants to Hear
Well, I won’t keep you in suspense. The message has to do with sugar.
You may be thinking that everyone knows sugar’s bad. And that does seem to be true. But not everyone stays away from it. And that’s a problem, or at least a problem waiting to happen.
Not Connecting the Dots
When I was training to be a life coach, one of the instructor coaches was between 40 and 50 pounds overweight. One day she said, “I’m addicted to sugar, but I’m okay with it.”
This woman clearly didn’t connect her addiction to sugar with either her weight or any of the health problems she had. That’s what I’d call not connecting the dots.
Cravings that Never Go Away
I receive newsletters with articles on sugar cravings that “never seem to go away.” The various authors present themselves as nutrition experts. As a solution, they typically recommend products – that you can buy! – that taste just like chocolate and take away the sugar cravings.
Apparently, whatever these experts do with their daily food plans isn’t keeping food cravings from returning.
Fact: Sugar cravings absolutely DO go away over time – potentially permanently – so it’s a red flag for me if a nutrition ‘expert’ doesn’t know how to make that happen for him/herself or for clients.
Falling for Sneaky, Sexy Sugars
The list of these is fairly long: agave nectar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, fruit (yes, fruit), fruit juice, honey, monk fruit extracts, date paste, and more.
It would be no surprise to discover that someone who uses these sneaky sugars is addicted to them or has cravings that never seem to go away completely. After all, they’re sugar.
Which Brings Us to Paleo Menus
I’m on lots of lists and often receive menus for Paleo desserts and treats that use some of the above sneaky sugars. They’re delicious, we’re told.
My wisdom on this is simple: “Delicious” is suspicious.
And sugar is sugar. That’s definitely not what anyone wants to hear, but it’s true.
Fruits and Vegetables
What can I say? I wish people would stop lumping these two together. It makes them seem equally healthful, and they’re not.
Fructose, the sugar in fruit, is a particularly harmful sugar. In fact, it’s what makes sucrose (half fructose, half glucose) the junk we know it to be. In the science lit, all researchers seem to know this. If only the rest of us were willing to accept that!
A couple of servings of fruit a day is probably okay for most people. A serving is ½ cup or 1 medium fruit.
Yet some fruits may trigger an addictive reaction in some people. Self-awareness and self-honesty are key survival tools, and far better than going along with any mainstream push toward trending sugars.
I’ve Had to Change My Message
Several months ago, when joining a women’s networking group, I made the mistake of introducing myself as a sugar addiction expert in my 30-second pitch. It led to nothing but fear. People are afraid to deal with sugar addiction, very likely because they know what happens when they go without sugar for any length of time.
But I’ll end with this important message because it truly matters more than ever:
• Sugar is at the heart of the obesity epidemic. Not fat, not supersizes.
• Sugar increases appetite.
• Sugar leads to the consumption of extra fat. Many high-sugar foods contain fat. Fat also makes sugar tastes sweeter, so foods with both sugar and fat encourage overeating, and the calories can add up quickly.
• Sugar can increase blood pressure. More than salt.
• Sugar can increase serum cholesterol. More than fats.
• Sugar can raise triglycerides. More than fats.
• Sugar can lead to type 2 diabetes. Yes, it can.
• Sugar can contribute to mood swings, anxiety, depression and other mood issues.
• Sugar can interfere with optimal brain focus and work productivity.
I maintain that it can be easy to quit sugar if you know how – and to get rid of cravings long-term.