Anyone who really knows me knows I have a bad sweet tooth that has now been transferred to my children. In fact, my whole family loves sweet delicacies, and we are not exactly cautious about indulging it.
My major vice is soaking gari and sugar, nothing fancy. I’m the kinda girl who will eat fancy fried rice with a side of chicken and still be craving soaked gari and sugar right afterwards. Give me ice cream and I will still use gari and sugar to top up.
This was something that started when I was very young and my Dad used to be very worried that I would develop eye problems in the future, because I was always eating gari. I haven’t so far, and fingers crossed.
As far as I am concerned, gari is the favourite dessert to every meal. Happily, my body tells me when I have overdone it with the sugar, because I just have some low level back pain, with a starchy aftertaste in my mouth. Is it ever enough to stop me? Nah, I only just continue to drink my gari, minus the sugar. And time doesn’t come between me and my gari. Nah! If the craving hits at 1am and I’m still awake, I go and fix myself some.
However, these past few weeks, actually since December 2017, I have been unconsciously avoiding gari, and I think it was my body’s way of telling me I have been “sugared” out. Consciously though, I have been trying all sorts of therapy to boost the health of my skin, my face especially. I just got tired to carrying an acne filled face all over the place, and have been taking some proactive steps to do things that would not only make my skin glow, but also reduce acne and blackheads. And I’m looking at natural means. I have been finding some interesting options which work like magic, if usage is consistent.
It is in my bid to reduce my sugar intake, that, I have found myself holding back on the gari, avoiding fizzy drinks, trying to drink more water and eat more fruits (okay, it has only really been cherries, agbalumo in local language, these days).
Have I succeeded? Let’s just say it is still a work in progress and I’m giving myself until next month ending to assess how successful, or otherwise, I have been.
In this article, I’m not talking about the sugar (cubed or loose, white or coloured), but also the natural sugars found in foods. Take for instance my favourite, gari, it ends up as sugar in the body and I still add some sugar to sweeten it. That automatically increases my calories, with no nutritional benefits to my body.
The World Health Organization recently halved its recommendation of sugar intake. WHO said just 5 percent of calories should ideally come from added sugars, which is down from 10 percent. This translates to about 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day per day.
If, unlike me, your body doesn’t give you a sign that you are eating too much sugar or you are not paying attention to your body, then here are some very clear signs that you are, and that you need to cut back on the sugar high.
Your skin is breaking out a lot
The skin, which is the largest sense organ in the body, is the one which often shows the result of over-indulgence in sugar.
It just breaks out in acne as a result of what you are feeding it.
A study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggested a relationship between a high-sugar diet and how severe acne can be. In the study, participants with moderate to severe acne reported a higher sugar intake, compared with people who had mild or no acne.
You’re tired throughout the day
I remember a friend sharing with me, while we were Undergrads, that students who often engage in brain work should eat sugar more, since they tend to burn it…faster.
That theory sort of grew on me, and but the truth is the effect is counter-productive. When you get a high from eating sugar, you will ultimately crash and that crash will leave you feeling tired.
You will feel tired easily, feel sluggish and be on the hunt for a sugary pick-me-up to help you function well. How long are you going to continue in this path?
To curb sugar cravings, try to get more fibre and protein in your diet, nutrients which promote “real” energy. That’s because fibre and protein keep you fuller longer, since they digest more slowly. And they don’t cause your blood sugar to rise and fall like foods high in sugar.
You always crave the sweet stuff
Even as I write, my mind is going through some really sweet stuff and imagining their taste.
It’s a vicious cycle. The more sugar you eat, the more your brain wants sugar, what it sees as a reward. This addiction can be a tough habit to break, but not impossible.
You’re feeling moody
If sugar affects your physical body, making you tired, and it also affects your mind, making you crave more sugar, then it stands to reason that it would do a number on your mood.
Multiple studies have suggested a link between depression and a diet high in sugar. When you maintain a high-sugar diet, it raises inflammation in the body and the brain. And that’s linked to higher incidences of depression.
A recent study found that brain inflammation was 30 percent higher in clinically depressed patients. When you eat sugar, you will have a short-lived burst of energy. And then your energy levels will come crashing down, as soon as the sugar depletes in your body.
It will leave you feeling cross. To feel better, cut out the sugar.
You are putting on some weight
Excess sugar means excess calories, and since it has no protein or fibre, it doesn’t fill you up (so you just keep eating it). It also triggers the release of insulin, a hormone that plays a big role in weight gain and diabetes.
When you eat sugar, the pancreas releases insulin, which carries sugar to your organs so it can be used for energy. When you load up on sugar, your body’s told to produce more insulin over time, and that excessive output can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means your body can’t respond to normal amounts of insulin properly, and therefore can’t use sugar the right way.
Anyone paying attention to themselves should be able to highlight some of these signs that you are eating too much sugar.
For the sake of your current and future health, break up your relationship with sugar.
Note to self: This life is sweet; it doesn’t need sugar to be sweeter.
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