I'll be honest; after years of sugar highs (and lows, fixed by eating more sugar), I am a bit nervous as to how I will cope with the withdrawal. I have already begun cutting back my sugar intake and filling my freezer with goodies, so I'm hopeful it won't be too much of a shock to the system.
Here are some things you might not know about sugar:
- In countries where people have free access to sugar, there is a much higher incidence of diabetes. One worrying statistic is that a can of soft drink per day increases your risk of diabetes by 22%.
- Sugar reacts with the proteins in our bodies and changes their structure, forming toxic substances known as advanced glycation end-products. It's no coincidence that those words form the acronym, AGE.
- Back in ye olden days when we all lived in caves, we lived off meat and fats. Our bodies are designed to eat as much of those foods as we need, and then we stop. From time to time we would stumble across sugar - perhaps some berries or suchlike. Since we didn't know when we would come across such a thing again, we would eat and eat and eat, as much as we could. Our bodies don't have that "wait, stop, you're full" signal for sugar because we didn't know when we'd come across some again. This is how come you can easily drink a litre of fruit juice in one go, but you probably couldn't drink a litre of full fat yoghurt in twice the time.
- Sugar is addictive. When you say this, people mostly think you're bonkers - but recent studies have found that not only is it addictive, it interferes with our appetites and confuses our bodies.
- I know the "low fat" diet idea from the 80s is still very popular with a lot of people, who believe if you eat low fat products you'll lose weight. There's a massive industry built around the idea, and it rakes in millions each year. The problem is that fat doesn't make you fat; sugar makes you fat. And what do manufacturers put into their foods once they've removed the fat, to make them taste reasonable? Sugar. By the bucket load.
- The sugar in fruit is still sugar. So is the sugar in honey, and so is the sugar in agave nectar, maple syrup and coconut sugar. It's all fructose, which is what causes the problems.
- Our bodies use glucose to perform certain functions - but that glucose is easily found when breaking down proteins and fats in the body. We have no need to put extra glucose into our bodies for general survival and wellbeing.
A lot of people are doing Sugar Free September; it was even on BBC's Inside Out last night.
Since I started telling people I was doing this, I've had lots of people tell me they would love to do the same, but don't think they could. I'm not going to lie; it is a bit scary. Sugar is everywhere, in everything these days. It's added to everything, even savoury foods, under lots of different names. Our packaged savoury foods are so processed that they are broken down to sugar in our bodies very quickly and can be just as bad as eating sugary foods. I'm finding out very quickly that it's hard to do this if you're going out for lunch or even for a drink. But I'm hoping the results will be worth it!
Throughout September I will be posting a weekly selfie on my Instagram profile, in the hope that there will be some change in my appearance. I will also update periodically, if I think of anything pertinent to add to this post. If anyone has questions about Sugar Free September, do please feel free to get in touch either here, or on Facebook or Twitter.