Processed sugars are one of the single worst ingredients in the modern diet! It can contribute to all kinds of diseases and can devastate your metabolism and spike your bodies insulin, thus leading up to insulin resistance, diabetes, higher cholesterol, cancer, heart disease, etc. Which in short means, it will be hard to lose and maintain weight, you will have less energy, and your overall health will be at risk. Added sugars have no nutrients or health benefits, and is very bad for your teeth. There are no proteins, essential fats, vitamins or minerals in sugar, just pure energy that once that is used up will leave you feeling lethargic and unable to think clearly. They are what is called, “empty calories”.
Many times when we eat foods that are high in added/processed sugars, we eat them as a “reward”. Like receiving a hug, it can be soothing and comforting, especially in todays stressed out world. The sugars give you a temporary boost of energy and a feeling of being happy and comforted. It triggers the “reward motivated” neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Which means whatever you reward yourself with, dopamine is released. Dopamine has been linked to food addictions, especially with sweet foods. There is a correlation shown between low levels of dopamine and overeating in women. This may be because this food serves as an immediate and readily available reward that is easier to find and/or easier than dealing with one’s true needs.
However, you have the power to define and address your own needs. You may have the habit of seeking out sweet foods to stimulate those “feel good feelings” that dopamine brings, but you can create new habits/rewards! Start out small. Find other things that make you happy other than sweets and unhealthy foods. Make a “bucket” list of attainable things you can do like: preparing for a 5K, learning a new craft, exploring something you have a passion for, or reading that book you have wanted to read, connect with friends and family in active ways…the list goes on. If you are at work, and you are craving sweets, take a minute to just breathe deeply, get up and walk for a minute, or just focus on what is looks like to reach your goals of health, wellness, weight loss, beauty, etc. Visualize what that looks like to you. YOU ARE WORTH IT! Create new ways to stimulate being happy and finding comfort and the brain will reward you with dopamine. Eat more whole, ripe fruit that can satisfy your desire for sweets, that will nourish our bodies with nutrients. Choose organic when possible. Also, pick the fruits most often that are low in natural sugar such as grapefruit, raspberries, green apples, blueberries, and blackberries.
Food is our first and best medicine! Be thoughtful about what you decide to put into your body. Your body will respond, one way or another! Decide how you want your body to feel and look, then make a plan. Take charge of your health and well-being! You may want to seek out help and accountability with reaching your goals or you may feel confident you can do it on your own. Either way, start making small changes today!
“Health is like money; we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.” ~Josh Billings