Can I eat sugar & still lose weight? Deep dive into "sugar"
Can I eat sugar & lose weight? Is sugar really that bad? What about natural forms of sugar? Why you have a hard time giving up or even reducing sugar from my diet? All this and much more, today lets take a deep dive into the topic of sugar. Stay tuned
Hi there, how are you doing. I know, I know quite a gap from a side..I just got so busy but honestly as I’m recording this, I'm firmly resolving in my heart to stay more consistent. Anyways, today I have an entirely important & valuable topic for you. We are going to deep dive into what I call the sugary aspect of weight loss.
Now, the thing is, some experts believe that you can lose weight by eating sugar as long as the calories are controlled while some experts completely ban it from your diet. And I think that is the reason why it’s natural that people are confused as to how to approach sugar. Whether to keep it or ditch it from your diet…
So today I’ll teach you 5 concepts that will make it easier for you to understand what’s going on in your brain when it comes to sugar which in turn will help you to powerfully navigate the whole decision making around sugar in your diet
But first, do you experience cravings?
And do you have a hard time losing weight or you have lost & gained weight many times, then today’s episode is for you.
The first concept is understanding your love for sugar. So now there two
things here that I want you to get.
The first thing is we have an innate inclination - a predisposition built for liking sweet tasting foods because from an evolutionary perspective, generally speaking, such foods were not poisonous.
But that’s not where our love with a capital L, comes from…the love for sugar!
So the big understanding here is that our love for sugar is a learned phenomenon. What!!!
And since love for sugar is learned & so it can unlearned!
Your brain is plastic…the love for sugar is not hardwired for the rest of your life.
Now, here me out
Don’t we all have friends in our life or know such people who like savoury more than sugary foods….right!
This is a huge misconnection that “I have a sweet tooth, I am this way”
Do you say this to yourself, “I love sweets so much…I love sugar so much…I have to have my sugar fix…I cant give it up.”
You are not alone, there s nothing wrong with you but you to understand that your love for sugar is not your weakness
Your love for sugar is learned just like any other habit & learned by repeated exposure to such foods.
So how does this love, this huge desire for sugar develop?
When we eat artificially created, chemically engineered intensely sweet foods, excessive dopamine is released from the reward circuits the brain.
The dopamine flood cause this intense buzz…this intense stimulation which is pleasurable & rewarding.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter of motivation, memory & reward….this is actually how we learn to do anything…so when we eat such foods, dopamine is released which causes your brain to remember how you got that reward & to do it again. So dopamine causes more desire for dopamine & the cycle continues.
But thats not all, the excess dopamine that is released as an effect of sugar & hyper palatable meaning extremely delicious foods is too much for our brains to handle. And so with time, the dopamine receptors diminish in their number. And then the normal food starts tasting “boring” meaning you literally are not able to get any joy out of the regular, whole, unprocessed food.
And yet another fascinating thing that I want you to know about dopamine is that just by thinking about a particular food that you love and here I imply sugary or highly palatable food, there is a dopamine surge in your brain. This is what it means to have an urge or a craving…cravings are simply your brain seeking that quick dopamine reward.
Now, if you don’t act upon the urge, the dopamine plummets below the baseline meaning you feel miserable & anxious. So no wonder we feel that we are controlled by our cravings. It’s almost like it hurts if we don’t act upon them. And if we act upon them, more desire is generated by the release of more dopamine. So can you see its a vicious, self perpetuating cycle of suffering.
But but here’s the grand truth
The only way to break cycle of suffering is to firstly see whats going on & secondly to let the craving hurt….because if you answer the craving with your favourite food, you are once again setting yourself up for more future cravings. You literally are adding ghee to the fire burning fire of craving by eating.
But if you step out, let the craving be, you allow the misery & the anxiety in your body, you rewire your brain with a new pattern. You are literally breaking free from the prison of your own damaging habitual impulse to eat.
This brings me to my second teaching which moderation does not work. In fact in my experience moderation is the exact thing which keeps people stuck & frustrated actually. What is moderation even mean? Think about it. Moderation is a completely subjective phenomenon.
And if you struggle with excess weight, health or a hormonal issue, then do yourself a favour, quit moderating such foods. No, seriously. Only when you give your mind crystal clear rules around such foods will you be able to come to a place where such foods lose their power over you.
Why is this? This is because when you keep eating sugar & foods with added sugar & refined carbohydrates & ultra pricessed foods on an everyday basis, the same neural pathways keep getting hijaked in your brain. You are not giving a chance to your brain to reboot & rewire.
And so even if you exert will power - like you go on a diet etc, you keep the desire, the love for sugar, the love for such foods pretty much intact in your brain.
When you keep having sugar in your everyday life, it is known to increase your desire for more sugar..even hidden sugars rev up your brain to seek & eat more food….instead of signalling satiety to your brain, sugar causes overeating. So again calorie in minus calories out theory falls flat when you take into account how is your brain is wired
If you want to diminish cravings & actually come to a point where cravings are no longer a problem, you have to completely avoid sugar on an everyday basis….which brings me to my third teaching concept
And that is the power of decision ahead of time. See, you don’t need to completely give up desserts/favourite foods from your life. Like what I’m saying is avoid sugar & such foods in your day to day life & plan for favourite dessert ahead of time…say once a week or maybe twice a week. But you are the one planning.
Instead of reacting, instead of letting your dopamine/cravings dictating your eating decisions, you take your power back. You plan your food. Plan your desserts. Ok. And then instead of mindlessly eating, you savour every single bite. This way, you break the sugar habit or junk food habit from controlling your life.
And when you start doing this what you will experience brings me to my fourth teaching point and that is anticipate withdrawal both physiological & psychological. Withdrawal from giving up day to day sugar or junk foods.
I call withdrawal the pain that is inevitable & the pain that has a purpose.
When you look at the misery that comes from withdrawal to be the pain with a purpose, your entire entire perspective towards experiencing them shifts.
At the physiologically level, what happens is that the dopamine receptors take time to replenish. You may have had the sugar habit or the junk habit since eons. So when you give that up from your everyday life, the withdrawal might look like feeling a little low, moody or irritated for some days or a couple of weeks…you got to remind yourself that there is a reward waiting for you…you doing this for a greater cause.
And then there is this psychological withdrawal. All those emotions that you were avoiding by eating a quick feel good sugar buzz or overeating will come to the surface of your awareness. So if it was sadness, anger, overwhelm, disappointment, fear, loneliness, inadequacy, anxiety…whatever it was that you were trying to escape from, all of a sudden you become hyperaware of that emotion. And instead of running away from these, instead of resisting them, the most effective way to deal with them is to allow those emotions with radical compassion & an open heart.
Moving on the fifth concept that I want to teach you is a neutral stance on sugar. See if you have been struggling with your weight for any length of time or even just unhealthy habits instead of the extra weight, most of the time, we simply take on a black & white approach towards food which then leads to our dysfunctional relationship with food & consequently our body. In simple words, we start labelling foods as good or bad inside our brains & that affects what & how we eat them. So if you think sugar is bad & you hate to love it & you know that its your weakness, then every time you eat it, you can’t help but feel guilty upon eating it or end up overeating pretending that it doesn’t matter how much you eat it.
So here’s the thing, sugar is neither good or bad. Yes, it has addictive properties & it’s consumption is not consciously managed it’s easier to overdo it. In high does, for sure it has detrimental effects on your health giving rise to all sorts of lifestyle diseases.
At the same time, having said that, for an athlete or a sick person, it’s an energy drink, gives vitality & speeds up recovery & muscles building.
So whether it is good or bad - depends upon the context.
We just cannot make a generalised statement like sugar is poison
Or sugar is a good or bad.
As long as we are doing that, we continue to have a messed up relationship with food. The wisdom is we understand the effects of sugar thoroughly well & use it consciously in a way that enriches our life.
And so , I want you to really consider that sugar is neutral…It can be good or it can be bad, just like any other food….
If we can conceptualise it that way, it gives you your power back. You can avoid it in your day to day life as well as enjoy your well planned treat foods like your favourite dessert.
One more thing that I want you know is that in this entire episode the sugar that Im talking about includes all forms of sugar except the whole fruit. Jaggery, molasses, coconut sugar, date sugar, honey…in the context of weight loss, healthy blood sugar control, high energy levels & developing a peaceful relationship with food, all these different forms of sugar except fruit have similar effect on the body & the brain. Please treat these other so called healthier forms of sugar as table sugar. Don’t make jaggery brownies & think you are doing your self favour to yourself. I recommend you rather eat the real brownie than jaggery or date sugar, whole wheat brownie in your treat foods. The effect of fruit is a totally different story. The sugar in the fruit has a more slower, steadier impact on the body & the brain. It’s pretty hard to sit & eat 4 whole apples in one sitting while its a no brainer to polish off 4 slices of cinnamon apple pie in one go…
This is it for this time. I hope this episode brought you lots of clarity around sugar. If you found this episode valuable, consider leaving me a review on I tunes. That way I will be able to help more amazing women like you. I will talk to you very soon.