Why You Should Quit Sugar Today
The benefits have been almost as transformative as when I first began meditation.
I’ve more natural energy, my thoughts are calmer, the nagging runner’s knee pain that had bothered me for months is gone, and so on.
Sugar is linked with obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, migraines, autoimmune disease, and of course tooth decay. Sugar feeds cancer cells and suppresses the immune system.
Despite hearing all that, if a fresh tray of gooey warm chocolate chip cookies was pulled out of the oven, would you still have trouble resisting?
Sugar is addictive
“Your body processes sugar rapidly. As you know, when you eat sugar you get an initial burst of energy – the sugar hits your bloodstream almost as quickly as if you had mainlined it. Overwhelmed by the surge of sugar, the body scrambles to process it, producing insulin to transport the sugar from the bloodstream into the cells. This increase in insulin makes your blood sugar level drop. So the energy surge vanishes almost as quickly as it arrived and you “crash.” This process triggers the body to crave more energy. So you eat more sugar or sugary carbohydrates to get the energy high again. A vicious cycle of craving, eating and crashing begins.”
So if you’ve been feeling weak or guilty for not being able to resist the pull of sugar, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s powerfully addictive, working on the same pathways in the brain as cocaine and heroin. Sugar, in a sense, is a socially acceptable legal recreational drug.
Now that you’re convinced it’s time to quit sugar,
Stop Eating Sugar
Because sugar is so addictive, I find that quitting cold turkey works best for most people. You must stop eating sugar, plain and simple. The less you eat it, the less you crave it. It’s easier said than done, I know, but that’s the necessary first step. The withdrawal symptoms (cravings, headache, fatigue, bad mood) usually last between three to five days. The good news is that once you do this, cravings diminish quickly and dramatically.
Eat Fat, Fiber and Protein
Instead of eating sugary foods, focus on eating the most satiating foods: fat, fiber and protein. Fat, fiber and protein will keep you full and keep your blood sugar steady. Have avocado, nuts, nut butter and coconut oil for healthy fats. Eat lots of vegetables for fiber. And have lean meats, eggs, fish, beans and lentils for protein.
Understand the Nature of Cravings
The First Noble Truth of Buddhism is that ‘life is suffering,’ and the Second Noble Truth is that ‘craving is the cause of suffering.’ The reason why cravings cause suffering is that satisfaction of cravings is short-lived, temporary, impermanent, fleeting.
As we know from the physiology of how our body processes sugar, any satisfaction we get from eating sweets is very short-lived. If you really pay attention, you may notice that the anticipation of eating sweets is often more pleasant than the actual pleasure of eating sweets, which is so short-lived and often tinged with some guilt, regret or sadness as the experience ends.
Meditation is a powerful antidote to cravings. The mind is always racing outwards, chasing the next bit of stimulation – whether that’s checking your iPhone for new messages, or thinking about the next meal or sweet treat. Through meditation, I practice teaching my body and mind to “sit still” and focus on the breath. Through my daily meditation practice, I’ve witnessed how restless the mind is, always chasing the next thrill. Slowly, gently, persistently I work to return to the present moment. This helps to unravel cravings so they don’t have such a strong pull.
The root cause of sugar addiction is that we are out of touch with the sweetness of life itself… Closed off from the experience of sweetness in life, yet hungering for it in the depths of our souls, we turn to the imitation of this sweetness in sugary foods. Babies are sweet. Intimacy is sweet. Love is sweet…The experience of coming inward, coming back home, connecting with the divine, is one of ineffable sweetness