By Bibiana Dianiskova
It is no secret that most of us have a sweet tooth or realistically called a “sugar problem”. However, sugar can be very addictive and therefore, in the light of the sugar awareness week we discuss the effects of sugar on your mind, skin and body. Seeing the harmful impact of sugar will make you want to create healthier habits and kick it out of your diet.
Since childhood, we are taught that sugary snacks are a treat. Something we get rewarded with, or on the other hand something to calm us down when we are upset. What do we then perceive sugar as when we are adults? Comfort food! Something we consume when we feel tired in order to pick us up, sad to cheer us up, or to end our meal to fill us up and end our cravings.
Unfortunately, it is very rarely that we teach our mind to consume sugar in moderation, which can then lead to numerous health, body, and skin issues.
The effects of sugar on the mind
First and foremost, sugar is often called a “poison”, “toxic”, or a “drug” and even though these terms sound intense, unfortunately they tend to be correct. There is a vast research behind sugar addiction proving that it might be one of the worst addictions there is. And because we often consume sugary products as our comfort food, we might easily become addicted without even realising it! Additionally, the food industry plays tricks on our minds masking up the flavours with added sugars to make the processed food taste better.
Another effect that sugar can have on our minds is that it gives us temporary energy as it hits the bloodstream immediately. This energy is temporary because it only lasts until we crash, and then we crave even more sugar to give us the energy high back. It is a never ending circle which can eventually make you feel stressed, anxious, moody and you end up feeling exhausted. You will find yourself craving sugar regularly as it will temporarily give you energy, or on the other hand calm down your “food cravings”.
However, observe how you actually feel after this consumption. Try to remember that these are only cravings and they can be resulted in a much healthier way.
The effects of sugar on the body
Sugar is often associated with weight gain, and I guess this won’t be a surprise to you, but the more sugar you will eat – the more you will weigh. Sugar also causes numerous health problems such as diabetes, obesity, and heart problems to name just a few.
Do not underestimate sugary beverages such as sodas, juices, and even specialty coffees or teas which are often full of fructose. Even if it seems that they might calm down your hunger, they are basically liquid calories leading to an increased weight gain.
Even when it comes to alcohol be cautious. Cocktails often contain sugar syrups or juice concentrates which make them taste delicious, but they can be really harmful to our bodies. Try to stick with pure spirits with fresh lemon or lime juice, and be very mindful about the mixers. However, I know that a cocktail or two might be much needed at times. So, just remember to drink with moderation and do not forget to hydrate!
The effects of sugar on the skin
Sugar does not only have a huge impact on our bodies but it also damages our skin. If you consume too much sugar it will cause inflammation and puffiness. Especially if you spike your insulin levels with a sugary diet your skin will produce extra oil clogging your pores and causing breakouts. How often do you get a spot and you are unsure of what has caused it? Well, the ugly truth is that it might have been that cookie you ate, or a bowl of pasta you had a couple of nights ago.
Foods or drinks high in a sugar content will also damage your collagen production and elasticity of your skin. This can then result in wrinkles and fastened ageing, which let’s be honest, none of us wants.
Additionally, alcohol which often contains a high amount of sugar, can have a huge impact on your skin. It dilates the blood vessels causing puffiness, sagging, redness, dark circles and much more.
HOW TO AVOID SUGAR AND ITS EFFECTS
Read the labels
Unfortunately sugar is hidden in many foods, therefore, it is crucial that you read the labels. Check the contains of sugar, and do not get fooled by many names sugar hides under. Pay special attention with “gluten free” or “fat free” products. These often contain a high dose of refined sugar in order to change the taste. Try to pick up groceries either with the least amount of sugar, or at best no sugar at all!
Calm down the sugar cravings
Sugar cravings are the worst, am I right? If you try to wean off the sugar, but your mind is actually used to it, it can be a tough battle. However, you can learn how to control it!
Many times these sugar cravings might just mean dehydration. Therefore, make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day. Stress or boredom could also be the cause of these cravings. So, instead of having a sugary treat, tackle them differently! Go for a walk, give yourself time to breathe, and distract yourself.
In case you really need something sweet – eat a fruit! This should satisfy your cravings and it is a far better and healthier option than a chocolate bar. And in case you are really struggling, take L- Glutamine tablets. These can calm down the cravings as they fuel the brain in a similar way sugar would, but they are not harmful at all.
Replace the sugar with sweet alternatives
Yes, almost everything contains sugar these days. Hence why, it might be really difficult to exclude it from your diet. However, there is a way to avoid it or even replace it. Replacing processed or refined sugar with natural sweeteners might be the answer to your problems.
“Getting the sugar in its most natural whole form – as it is in nature – will always be your best bet.”
Therefore, it is best to stick with fruits, sweet root vegetables or winter squashes. Many people try to replace the sugar with dates, however, be careful as they contain a very high dose of natural sugar. Therefore, when needed, you can replace the refined sugar with honey or maple syrup for natural sweetness. Additionally, stevia might be a great replacement to add sweetness as it is calorie-free and it does not spike your sugar levels.
Even though sugar is bad for you, remember that occasionally there is a time and place for that sugary treat. Let’s be realistic, you will have sugar at times. There are numerous occasions where you will want to have a piece of cake or a dessert as a part of the celebration. And that is okay! Do not be too hard on yourself, just remember that self-control is essential when it comes to sugar consumption.
Now with the start of the new year we tend to create new habits for ourselves, and kicking out that sugar habit is a great one to adopt! Being more mindful about what we consume on a daily basis will have a huge impact on our overall health and mind.
January is a great month to start saying “no” to sugar!