In part one of this three-part series, former sugar addict Theresa Fowler reveals the reason why this all-too-common toxin is probably clouding your judgement.
When you reach for a sugary snack, such as a cupcake, croissant or chocolate bar, it is more than likely a response you have made to make you feel better about whatever it is you’re not feeling good about. Think about why you decided to choose a sugary snack. Was it because you ‘needed an energy boost’? Was it because it was ‘one of those days’? Was it because you were ‘bored’? Was it just because you were ‘hungry and fancied it’?
If you feel good, are in a happy place and if you’re truly hungry, your first response won’t be to reach for sugar, because you’ll already be eating nutritious food that makes your body feel good. You’ll also have come to realise that eating sugar makes you feel worse, which will happen once your tastebuds get used to not consuming so much. After only two to three of weeks of eating proper nutritious food, your body’s cells will change enough so that you won’t cave in to sugar cravings. The bad feelings you’ll get from eating sugar will put you off. The taste of refined sugar will be too sweet and the inflammatory response to your cells so uncomfortable that you’ll wonder how you ever ate it in the first place.
The last time I made the choice to indulge in a popular milk chocolate bar was at Christmas. For the following three days, I suffered from what felt like a hideous hangover, which definitely wasn’t from the one glass of champagne I had. Because my diet these days is very clean (95% of the time I eat organic whole foods), the ‘fog’ I felt was on a cellular level. This made me realise just how much of a brain fog I had been in when my diet was full of processed foods, which all contain huge amounts of refined sugar.
As an example, here is the list of ingredients in the chocolate I ate:
Milk chocolate (Milk, Sugar, Cocoa butter, Cocoa mass, Emulsifiers (E442, E476), Flavourings), Vanilla flavour filling (38%) (Vegetable fat, Sugar, Dried whey, Dried cream, Dried skimmed milk, Milk fat, Emulsifiers (Soya lecithin, Sunflower lecithin), Flavouring), Biscuit pieces (12%) (Wheat flour, Sugar, Vegetable fat, Cocoa, Glucose-fructose syrup, Raising agent (Ammonium bicarbonate), Acidity regulator (Sodium bicarbonate), Salt, Dried whey, Cocoa mass, Emulsifiers (Soya lecithin, Sunflower lecithin), Flavouring).
This common chocolate also includes many dubious synthetic ingredients that don’t need to be labelled, but I’ll save the reasons why for another post. As you can see from the bolded ingredients, sugar is included four times, including glucose-fructose syrup, which is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) disguised as a different name in Europe. HFCS causes chronic cellular inflammation, which means it makes you feel bloated. This is because the fructose uses up a lot of energy in your body to process, so your cells become energy-depleted. As a result, they stop functioning normally and become inflamed. The inflammation of cells include your brain cells, hence the fog effect.
Besides cortisol, a hormone produced when you’re stressed, insulin and leptin are two other hormones involved in weight gain. Leptin resistance is similar conceptually to insulin resistance. With insulin resistance, chronic elevated levels make your muscle and fat cells more resistant to the metabolism of glucose in the bloodstream. With leptin resistance, chronic elevated levels decrease its sensitivity in the brain, so you’ll tend to eat more than is needed. This also makes weight loss more difficult, because restricting food is something your body naturally doesn’t want to do.
HFCS shuts down leptin production, which means your brain never gets the signal that you’ve eaten enough, so you don’t feel full. Sugar also alters the receptors of certain neurotransmitters in your brain and as their levels drop, you begin to crave sugar (and alcohol)… so you keep eating and eating more sugar to combat your cravings. I’d also like to add, food manufacturers make more and more money from you buying their toxic sugary products that keep you in a brain fog. Are you beginning to get the picture as to why this is a problem?
Check back for part 2 next month!
Theresa Fowler is the UK’s Only No Diet, No Calorie Counting Real Food Expert, author of Feel Like Sh*t? How to Stop Being Fat and founder of fitand40plus.com. Having lost 100lbs herself, she coaches women 40+ who have a history of yo-yo dieting to lose weight, feel better and look younger, all without counting calories.