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Kicking the Sugar Habit

Posted Nov 20 2009 11:15am
Evolutionally,humans are programmed to prefer sweet foods- ready sources of glucose which is the basic fuel for our bodies.Yet sweet stuff was neither omnipresent,nor cheap.Till the 1850's,only naturally sweet things like fruits,honey ,sugarcane were the sources of dietary sweetness for the major populace.As sweet stuff was an expensive luxury,it was used as an offering to deities,or during feasts and celebrations.Also the Activity levels of people were high by compulsion.People had to walk or ride horses,all work at house or farm was done manually.Water was fetched,firewood chopped,grain pounded.
Beginning twentieth century, there has been a progressive reversal of this situation.Today,we face plentiful availability of mass-marketed,cheaply available sugar and sugary stuff on one hand and a lifestyle which severly curtails activity levels on the other.Sugar coming through fruits or even from chewing on a stick of cane is accompnied by nutrients and fibres and reaches our cells gradually rather than in a rush and does not  mess our metabolism the way processed sugars do.
Thus,keeping our guard proactively up,to monitor overt and covert sugar intake is perhaps the simplest(though not easiest) single thing we can do for our wellness.To enumerate,uncontrolled sugar intake is positively correlated with obesity,diabetes,hypertension,kidney malfunction and cardiovascular disease.In his path-breaking book," Sweet and Dangerous",noted nutritionist,Dr John Yudkin dubs sugar as an anti-nutrient and discusses etiology of sugar triggered atherosclerosis and CHD.
So what can we do to kick the habit?
While understanding the problem with sugar is the starting point;being aware of covert sources of sugar is also essential.Sugar and high fructose corn syrup(HFCS) is added not just to confections but to sauces,mayonnaise,bread,cereals,gravies,peanut butter,namkeen,flavoured potato chips...!So reading labels is an essential part of kick-the sugar toolkit.
Some people like to outgrow a habit "one step at a time" ;while others chuck it out all together.Personally I endorse the second approach because after the initial pangs,the deschooling of tastebuds from intense sweetness of sugar is quicker and the process of educating the palate in the subtle sweetness of fruits and vegetables can begin in earnest.Moreover,I have seen that those who reduce it gradually,never really kick it and frequently forget their noble intentions!Anyway,I guess we  must find for ourselves what works the best for us.Whichever approach you take,there are some strategies which will help you:
1. Don't buy,stock or make sugary stuff.Throw away all supermarket junk you have kept for kids or guests.Most likely you will only eat it.
2. When craving hits you reach for fruits,or raisins.You can't overeat them in the same way as you can a packet of cookies.Go for Guliyan in Chocolates-meaning 80% dark chocolate with less milk solids and sugars is preferable to milk chocolate.
3.Eat, small,meals with protiens , complex carbs,and good fats .Eat mindfully.Carry snacks like mixed nuts and fruits,a jar of curds,so you do not find yourself reaching for a sugared junk in desperate hunger.
4.Use artificial sweetners sparingly-the idea is not to replace one bad habit by another.
5.Replace sugared beverages by water -the ultimate detoxifier!
6.Exercise! for it gives the same dopamine release as sugar but without the energy crash afterwards.
                          You will be rewarded with higher energy levels and a kick -butt immune system.I hope this works for you guys as it has for me.I would like to hear of any other interesting ways that have worked for people.

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