I mentioned in my last post how one of the things I’d done to change my diet was I stopped eating sugar or foods that contained sugar.

Today Australians consume almost a cup of sugar a day every day of the year, most of it hidden in drinks.  So my statement may strike some readers with disbelief – how can anyone live sugar-free, and why would they want to?

Giving up sugar was not easy.  I was addicted to sugar.  After a few weeks, my taste buds came back to life and I started noticing how sweet and tasty other foods now were, and then life felt worth living again.  That’s how addictions catch you.

Most people can’t imagine the changes that might happen in their health if they just stop eating and drinking sugar.

These days thousands of people in the Western world are giving up sugar and foods containing sugar in day to day eating and only keeping them for rare treats.  People who cut out sugar see remarkable health benefits, and they feel better too after the first difficult days.

Dessert - for special occasions only

Dessert – for special occasions only

Sugar (along with fat and salt) is one of the main ingredients of junk food.  Processed ‘junk’ food is the worst thing for our health, and is more closely implicated in our main killer diseases, heart disease and cancer, than is even saturated fat.

“If only a small fraction of what is already known about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive, that material would promptly be banned.”  – John Yudkin, University of  London

How can cutting out sugar can benefit cancer patients?  A cancer cell uses 3 – 5 times the amount of sugar of other body cells.  It hijacks sugar taken in and uses it to grow itself, in effect gradually starving the rest of the body.  In large hospitals in the US, there is an expensive test for cancer called a Positron Emission Test (PET). Radioactive glucose (a component of sugar) is injected into the person who have cancer. Then a Geiger-counter-like device is used to find where all the glucose has accumulated – and that is where the tumour has metastasised to.

For most of human history, sugar was not eaten by humans, except as maple syrup seasonably or honey if a bee tree was robbed.  But now that we all eat so much of it, we think we can’t live without it.

That’s because sugar is highly addictive. When you eat a sugary food, the hormone dopamine is released in larger amounts. Pleasurable feelings flood centres in our brain in response to dopamine release:  We feel good – and we want more of that feeling.  Our primal brains know we can get that feeling by eating more sugar – more of what we just ate that gave us that feeling.  Kicking a sugar habit (or fat or salt) are the same as kicking an addiction.  It’s not easy but it can be done.

You can do it.  I got sugar out of my regular diet and so can you.

Saying ‘No’ to sugar

I have made up my mind that my health isn’t going to be decided by my peers and their food choices.  I know that ‘going with the flow’ food-wise eventually leads to ill-health.  People have lost touch with what is normal and healthy.  I didn’t want to let others decide for me whether I was healthy or not.

I have a plan for those times where I am somewhere where it seems impolite to say ”No thanks” such as when you were just offered a piece of cake made by a child:  if unavoidable, I’ll have one bite, and that’s it.  But those times when you can’t politely decline are few and far between.  There are heaps of acceptable ways to politely decline:

  • “I just ate lunch”
  • “I’m full”
  • “I don’t take sugar”
  • “I’ve got a big dinner to go to and am holding off for that”
  • “No thanks!!!”

Most of the time people couldn’t care less what you ate or didn’t eat – they’re more concerned with what they are eating.  And if someone does care about your healthy choices, honestly, it’s their problem, not yours.  Worrying about what others think about your food choices reflects more upon your own insecurity rather than what they actually are thinking.  If I am straightforward and up front about my choices (and feel confident to clarify them when needed), I find people flow with that and it is no real issue.  It becomes an issue when I try to make it an issue.

Quite a number of times we’ve had people for dinner, only to discover one person doesn’t like lamb, or tomatoes, or meat or someone is pregnant and not drinking wine, or someone’s watching their weight and doesn’t want dessert. Even though I have carefully prepared what I thought were nice dishes, it doesn’t bother me that different people have different tastes. I invited them to bless them, and hang out with them, not cause them stress. My success as a cook and hostess is not dependent on whether everyone likes everything. I can accept that people prefer different foods, and hope they can accept the same about me.

I am not obliged to keep everyone happy, especially with food choices.

We have created an unhealthy type of co-dependency when we do not feel we can comfortably say “No, thank you” to things we prefer not to eat.

Some Christians feel that “not causing your brother to stumble” ties in here; they feel they may ’cause someone to become offended’ if they do not eat a dessert they made.  These days, if a person stumbles into being offended because you didn’t want cake or wine, they have way more issues to deal with if such a thing causes them to become offended!  Don’t feel responsible for their childish attitudes!  If you are really worried, perhaps warn them before visiting that you don’t usually eat dessert, so only make it if they are wanting that.

Let people think what they will.  It’ll be a healthier world when we can think for ourselves, and say, “No sugar, thanks.”

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