Sugar: It’s crap and we all know it. So why can’t we quit it? If you’re hooked on the stuff, like many people are, you know all too well just how powerful sugar addiction can be. Too much sugar in your diet leads to a litany of health problems, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes. Quitting sugar is essential to the short- and long-term health of your body and brain.
Is losing sugar easy? No. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
When starting out on the sugar-kicking journey, you’re going to have good days and bad. You’ll have some withdrawal-induced cranky moments and a few slip-ups along the way. That’s normal. Cutting out sugar is a process – it’s going to take a little time. After all, you’ve probably been hooked on the stuff for decades. The trick is to keep whittling down your intake, little by little, and to not get discouraged. Trust me, eventually there will come a day when you can walk by a donut shop without a second glance. Until then, remember practice makes perfect.
Once you get on the low-sugar path, you will start noticing the little and not-so-little benefits. There are a myriad of ills, aches, pains and chronic health irritations that have much more to do with sugar than we realize – and that many of them start to fall away as our sugar dependence decreases.
So, what feel-good changes do you have to look forward to? Here are few of the biggies you’re likely to see within weeks of dropping the sweet stuff:
Your head will hurt less.
The rollercoaster of spiking and crashing blood sugar levels may be the culprit behind your frequent headaches or migraines. Not only is sugar a trigger for headaches, it’s also known to increase the severity of pain. Reducing your sugar intake will ultimately mean reducing your migraine misery. Better yet, it may eliminate your headaches altogether.
Your blood pressure and cholesterol will start heading south.
Is your blood pressure higher than it should be? High sugar intake could be pushing it over the line. Cut the sugar and watch your blood pressure numbers drop. You may even be able to stay in the healthy zone and off prescription medications! Another bonus: Your LDL cholesterol will likely drop a few points as well, along with your triglycerides – for some people, quitting sugar can reduce those numbers by as much as 30 percent.
You’ll cut anxiety and depression.
You may think sweet treats are helping you feel better after a bad day, but it’s likely making your mood matters worse. A recent study found that men who filled up on sugar had a 23 percent increased risk of developing a mental disorder, and both men and women high sugar-eaters had an increased risk of depression returning.
Cramps won’t cramp your style.
If menstrual cramps are a recurring problem, cutting back on sugar will help tame inflammation. In turn, this will cut production of pain-producing, cramp-inducing prostaglandins to reduce (and possibly eliminate) much of the pain associated with the menstruation.
You’ll drop a few pounds – and your diabetes risk, too.
Dropping the empty calories found in sugar can have an amazingly positive impact on weight. Most of us underestimate how much sugar we take in – that is, until we make a conscious effort to dump it. Only then do we notice how quickly the pounds drop off! If you’ve been feeding your sweet tooth for ages, there’s a good chance you may also be insulin-resistant, meaning your body can’t clear the sugar out of your bloodstream quickly or efficiently enough. This can drive weight gain. By ditching sugar, you’ll enable your body to stabilize your blood sugar and insulin levels, which should curb weight gain and facilitate weight loss.
You’ll rest a little easier.
If falling asleep is a challenge, you’ve got one more reason to kick the sweet stuff. Many of us forget that sugar can have a stimulating effect, so if you’re tucking into a chunk of dark chocolate before bed, you may find yourself too jacked up to sleep. Granted, not everyone gets wired by late-night sugar bombs – some people may experience an initial somnolent effect. However, they’ll be up soon enough to urinate – as the body works overtime to clear excess sugar, late-night visits to the loo are all but guaranteed. In short: Less sugar means more sleep.
You’ll get fewer urinary tract infections.
For many women, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a recurring hassle. While excess sugar isn’t necessarily a cause of UTI, it does set the stage by encouraging bacterial overgrowth. UTI-promoting bacteria love to feed on sugar, so when you go overboard on sweets you’re making it easy for the bad guys to flourish. Don’t let them gain the upper hand! Starve the bacteria by eliminating their favorite food source.
Brain fog, begone!
Cutting sugar may be one of the best tools you currently have in your dietary arsenal to protect it from future cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. What’s more, ditching sugar has a more obvious and immediate benefit: a clearer head. Yes, less sugar equals less brain fog. A recent UCLA study found that high sugar intake has a negative impact on memory and learning – in other words, that morning donut may be dulling your ability to think straight. If you want to stay sharp, fill-up on a low-sugar diet that’s packed with nutrients and good fats.
Ready to slay sugar once and for all? Check out my 20 Ways to Get Sugar Out of Your Life.