Kick Sugar So Sweetly
Our human evolution and today’s world are a huge mismatch. To crave sugar is not a character flaw; it’s our biology.
Why do we over-eat sugar? The truth is, sugar can be addictive.
Sugar is a potent activator of the dopamine reward circuit, a biochemical pathway between the brain and gut that mediates the response to rewarding stimuli. It is the same response that happens with food, sex, social interactions and drugs.
The brain’s reward circuitry is designed to increase an organism’s likelihood of engaging in behaviors that increase its chances of survival. When the dopamine reward circuit is stimulated, dopamine is released, which produces feelings of pleasure and euphoria that drive an individual to seek out rewarding experiences or substances repeatedly.
The dopamine reward circuit also initiates thinking about the rewarding food and food-seeking behaviors. In other words, the more we eat sugar, the more the body becomes conditioned to desire and seek out sugary foods and our cravings increase.
We specifically crave cookies, crackers, candy with processed flour and sugar for one simple reason: they are quick acting and stimulate that reward circuit to make us feel better within a few minutes. The problem is – they also make us feel worse for hours afterward, setting up the next addictive cycle.
An interesting analogy is the coca leaf, which has been chewed and brewed for tea traditionally for centuries in South America. The coca leaf is beneficial to human health and does not cause any harm. However, when the one of its compounds, the alkaloid cocaine, is concentrated in its synthesized form, it become a highly addictive stimulant, which is cocaine.
The image above is showing how sugar and cocaine are stimulating the same dopamine receptors in the brain.
Sugars have also been extracted from plants and concentrated and therefore stimulate a quick release of your body’s innate pain-relieving opioids. (I’m talking about processed sugars here – not those in fruits.)
Over time, continuously stimulating this opioid pain-relieving system with processed sugar may rewire your brain—leading to an actual addiction.
The dopamine reward circuit for sweet foods was an evolutionary necessity for our ancient ancestors when our human biology developed.
The reward from sugar is an adaptation intended to help us identify foods with a high caloric density. For example, our ancestors would have had only seasonal access to high-sugar fruits and would have needed to have a strong enough craving for the fruit to want to climb a tree to get it!
The consumption of high caloric foods, when they were available, promoted the storage of body fat, which in turn enabled us to survive periods of famine.
The problem with this comes in today for most all of us because … no famine! Our human evolution and today’s world are a huge mismatch. To crave sugar is not a character flaw; it’s our biology!
The urge to reach for a cupcake instead of veggies? That resistance you feel to working out? That’s 2 million years of evolution at work, with one job: to keep you alive.
When humans evolved, heading out into the wild to find food might have put you at serious risk of becoming food yourself. So, your innate coding still prioritizes laying low and opting for easy calories as much as possible.
Of course, 2 million years ago, opportunities to lay low and find easy calories were rather rare. They had to go out to hunt and gather food or starve.
But today… many of us move very little most of the day and instead of climbing a tree to get our calories, all we need to do is walk down the grocery aisle!
Our human biology today is not much different from that of the Paleolithic humans who walked the earth long ago. It’s the world around us that has changed. We are very fortunate because very few of us experience famine.
However, we have constant access to sugary, processed foods. Foods that have been designed by their manufacturers to take advantage of our human biology to entice you to buy more and more of it.
This mismatch between our evolutionary biology and our modern environment has facilitated our sugar problem and has played a fundamental role in the current chronic disease epidemic.
By making dietary changes to the nutrient dense foods that our ancestors ate, most people experience fewer cravings for sugar. I am a Health Coach and I help people implement dietary and lifestyle changes that have been recommended by their medical practitioner or that they have decided they want to do.
Yes, I’m sorry – you may have to get through some tough days if you decide to give up processed sugar all at once. I wish it didn’t have to be that way. But just like a dependence to a controlled substance, breaking the sugar habit may be hard until you are able to break the dopamine reward circuit.
Some people can gradually reduce the amount of sugar in their diet successfully. But many need to make a clean break.
You may be thinking “What does she mean by a diversified, nutrient-dense diet?” Because with so many food products and the marketing for them, what is healthy food and what is not can be very confusing. As a Health Coach, if you wish to transition to a ‘real foods’ diet, I help you cut through all the confusion and really understand how to optimally fuel your body without the added processed sugars, processed flours, additives and chemicals.
The reward is that you will soon have more energy overall and you won’t have those huge drops in energy that you experience when you body relies solely on that next sugar fix.
You will love the way you feel so much that you won’t want to go back to binge eating cookies again!
I know I don’t want to return to the way I felt before.
Contact Barb to arrange a free no-obligation call.
For me after giving up processed sugars, I stopped needing the medicine for constipation that I had taken daily for about 15 years. I know TMI – but very real for so many of us.
My blood sugar and A1c levels, which had been pre-diabetic, are no longer in that range and are better every time I have them checked. My cholesterol to HDL ratio has become outstanding. And the bags under my eyes – gone. I have more energy and just feel good! Then to lose pounds, I went to a Keto Clean diet to see my greatest success with achieving my goals.
Many of my coaching clients are reporting similar improvements.
How did they do it?
There is such a positive synergy with group coaching! Many say it is knowing that you are not alone in your journey to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
During our meetings, I present information to help you with your goals, whether transitioning to a whole foods ketogenic diet, reducing stress, increasing movement or enhancing sleep.
But if information is all you need to have a healthy lifestyle, you can have information with a click on your Internet browser, right?
I will guide you to focus in on WHAT you want to do and HOW you can go about doing it and most importantly, WHY it is important to you to make changes.
By the end of each group coaching meeting you will have a clear understand what to eat to succeed with eating Keto Clean. You will also create your personal next step for the next week. This might be food related or another lifestyle enhancement. Sometimes this can be just thinking about something or reading more about it. Most likely it will be an action step that will move you closer and closer to your vision of your ideal wellness.I have new groups beginning frequently.
Contact me to arrange a free no-obligation call to answer your questions.