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Sweet Tooth Doesn’t Only Ruin Your Health, But Also Your Mind And Productivity

Sweet Tooth Doesn’t Only Ruin Your Health, But Also Your Mind And Productivity

Obesity is a prevalent problem across the world. Take America as an example, the national obesity rate is now estimated at 35.5%, which is statistically higher than the number of citizens who are merely overweight.

While there are many potential triggers for obesity, an excess level of sugar consumption is thought to be one of the most influential. While the average male should consume no more than 37.5 grams of sugar each day, the average American man takes in an estimated 126 grams (which is the equivalent of 22 teaspoons).

This clear and sizeable difference highlights the negative effects of sugar which remains the primary cause of obesity and numerous other health issues. Therefore, by reducing our sugar consumption, we can drastically improve our physical health, while also improving productivity and mental performance.

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Sugar Can Cause Heart Diseases And Belly Fat

When surfing online, you will probably have noticed that there are conflicting reports about the negative impacts of sugar on the human body and mind. While some scientists have claimed that saturated fat is in fact the primary cause of heart disease and far more dangerous than sugar, however, the validity of these reports have been discredited by the fact that the sugar industry paid Harvard scientists to publish such findings.

Modern scientists have now reversed their position, citing excess sugar consumption as a primary cause of physical ailments such as migraines, adrenal fatigue and heart disease. It is also believed to be the leading contributor to the accumulation of belly fat, and most doctors now suggest that citizens should restrict their intake to a single can of soda each day.

There are other, more far-reaching physical effects of excess sugar consumption too. Not only can too much sugar and fructose damage the liver (in a similar way to alcohol), but it can also increase your uric acid levels and increase your chances of developing heart and kidney disease. It is also cited as a key cause of metabolic dysfunction, the key symptom of which is elevated blood sugar levels and dangerously high blood pressure.

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Your Mind And Productivity Will Also Be Affected…

The issue of elevated blood sugar is particularly interesting, as this suggests that sugar can also have an adverse impact on our mental performance over time, impacting on everything from our underlying mood to our levels of focus and productivity at work. On a fundamental level, studies have shown that the excess consumption of sugar triggers cycles of binge eating and significant dophamine spikes, which in turn can cause physical and emotional crashes at any given time.

A 2013 study from US analytics firm Gallup even cited sugar-related health issues as a potential factor in global levels of employee dissatisfaction, with just 13% of workers actively engaged at work and capable of maintaining their mental focus over time.

These symptoms and statistics reveal that sugar consumption is a primary cause for numerous physical and mental health concerns, which in turn can impact heavily on our quality and longevity of life. This is also a major concern for our employers, particularly with absenteeism thought to cost an estimated £17 billion ($20.8 billion) in the UK alone each year.

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Rethinking Your Approach to Sugar

In some instances, excess consumption is driven by ignorance and a failure to identify the hidden sources of sugar in food and beverages. SugarScience.org recently reported that a staggering 74% of processed foods contained added sugar that is concealed under more than 60 different names, including starch and carbohydrates. In fact, sugar is a general dietary term for sweet and soluble carbohydrates such as glucose, meaning that many of us consume sugar unknowingly through food such as pasta, sauce and ready meals. In some of these instances, sugar is presented in a highly processed and concentrated form, making it even more dangerous to the human body.

This is just the beginning when it comes to identifying hidden sources of sugar, however, with food items such as granola, yoghurt and salad dressing all deceptively high in soluble carbohydrates. The fact that these ingredients are often marketed as healthy alternatives to snacks like chocolate and biscuits is even more concerning, as this often means that even those who are attempting to reduce their daily intake are consuming far more sugar than they think.

This represents a sizeable gap in knowledge, and one that is exacerbating the inflated levels of sugar consumption in the US and across the world.

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How to Reduce your Daily Sugar Intake and Cultivate Positive Eating Habits

Just as the excess consumption of sugar can have an adverse impact on your body and mind, so too reducing your intake requires both physical and mental effort. This process starts with the understanding that sugar, in its natural form, is not inherently bad, and that you must take responsibility to moderate your consumption and identify all highly-concentrated forms of the substance like fructose (which is commonly found in processed foods and carbonated beverages such as soda).

From here, you can begin to eliminate certain foods and moderate others, paying particularly attention to processed products and refined carbohydrates. These food groups include popular items such as ready meals and breakfast cereals, as these items are known to break down the sugar in your body and trigger an increase in insulin levels. Try to replace these initially with food that include natural sugar (like fruit), and gradually try to reduce your intake over time.

It is also recommended that you rethink your approach to grocery shopping, dedicating up to 90% of your budget on whole foods and focusing on the preparation of meals from scratch rather than pursuing processed alternatives. This will help to gradually improve and refine your diet, allowing you to reduce your sugar intake and increase the consumption of healthy fats and fermented foods with beneficial bacteria.

This structured approach will enable you to make incremental but manageable changes, under the understanding that it takes approximately eight to 12 weeks to break bad habits and cultivate good ones in their stead. It also uses knowledge and an understanding of the negative effects of sugar to make progressive changes to your diet, which in turn can lead to a healthier body and improved mental performance over time.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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