You may have quit a handful of bad habits over the years—smoking, unhealthy relationships, or over-spending on clothes or coffee. However, quitting sugar might be the most challenging habit to break.
What research says
We know that sugar is “bad for you,” but did you know that it can affect you physically and even mentally way beyond just getting a little chubby? Your intestinal balance can be thrown completely out of whack from eating too much sugar, leaving you susceptible to autoimmune problems and chronic intestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease, IBS, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease and, of course, diabetes.
Sugar is also standard in our culture. There is sugar in almost every packaged food, and turning down a co-worker’s offer for a doughnut is practically a slap in the face. If you really want to lay off the sugar, you have to be resilient through relentless temptation.
The good news is that once you’re past the withdrawal, over the social awkwardness, and label reading becomes second nature, you find that life opens up in some unexpected and delightful ways.
Here are 5 ways quitting (or at least cutting back on) sugar can make life more enjoyable.
1.You won’t always be itching for your next hit.
Like any addict, you’ve probably found yourself in a state of urgency when you “need” a piece of cake to give you that happy feeling and ease a building irritation.
It’s subtle sometimes, and easily disguised as a normal desire all wrapped up in our own urges and a longstanding relationship with really good marketing.
Being free of this desire puts you on an even keel. Essentially, you’ll be a more stable and balanced person who can focus more and delve into tasks without turning to a substance to take the edge off.
2. Your sense of taste will be heightened.
Sugar and cigarettes are powerful and they both numb our tastebuds over time. Smokers cannot taste food as well as non-smokers. The same is true for sugar addicts.
People who are addicted to sugar often say that they don’t like foods like vegetables and whole grains because “they’re bland.” The fact is actually that they can’t taste them! If you give up the hard stuff, like cigarettes or sugar, and then try them again, you’ll find that they’re too rough. It takes a while to build up a taste for cigarettes, whisky, and even sugar. It also takes some time to normalize your tastebuds again.
But, when you do quit, you’ll notice nuances of flavor in natural food that you really enjoy. You’ll actually crave things that are beneficial to your body and you will have a healthier, more in-depth relationship with both food and your own body.
3. Your daily life experience will be enhanced.
Sugar can affect your mental clarity, making you feel “foggy” or chronically tired because your body is constantly working overtime to balance itself out.
When you remove the fructose-driven veil, your sense of the now and your ability to absorb it will be more thorough and enjoyable. You’ll actually breath easier and see clearer than you have in years.
4. Your memory will improve.
There’s mounting evidence, as outlined in this UCLA Newsroom piece, stating that high sugar, low fat diets are linked to memory problems, even Alzheimers.
By eating sugar, you’re actually slowing yourself down mentally and maybe even doing long-term damage to your memory centers.
The good news is that by eliminating or decreasing the amount of sugar you consume and increasing the intake of DHA (healthy fats that protect the synaptic nerves), you can heal and maintain a healthy memory. You’ll be sharper, quicker, and mentally stronger, even as you age.
5. You’ll feel top-notch most of the time.
Nothing feels as good as not just being up to task but raring to face the day. Sugar is an inflammatory food which can be taxing on your entire system. Intense spikes of insulin to address sugar intake and flux of your internal systems can wear you out over time.
When you cut out or cut back that extra pressure you’re putting on your body, you’ll find that you’re a much healthier person than you thought you were. Not to say that you’ll never have a lazy day again, but it’ll be a more pleasant and purposeful one. Rather than thinking “I feel like crap. I don’t want to get up.” It’ll be more like, “I’ll just give myself a few extra minutes here.”
To sum up
Quitting sugar is not easy. It doesn’t happen overnight and it sucks at first, but it’s absolutely worth it when you get to a point of independence from the most common and troublesome drug.
You’ll really appreciate the natural sweetness of berries, apples, and other fruits, which also give you tons of health benefits. They’re packed with vitamins and boost the immune system when you enjoy them in small amounts. They also meet your body’s natural desire for a little something sweet now and again. Because, let’s be honest, what’s life without the sensation of sweet?
Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com