Abstinence versus Addiction – the hidden lessons.

I recently stopped eating sugar due to having a viral inner ear infection. I lived without it for about one month. That’s impressive for me! Every single time I ate sugar, my dizziness got worse. In the end, I didn’t want to be near the stuff. Being in the career I’m in (working for a luxury chocolate company), I should naturally leap to the defence of all things sweet). My approach is slightly different. Sugar isn’t the best thing for the immune system after all. I am concerned with good food eaten in the right way and in the right amounts.

When you feel so bad, you want to eat ‘feel good’ comfort food but it serves no purpose except to slow down your recovery. When you eat sugar during an illness, your body stops absorbing healthy nutrients (such as Vitamin C) into your cells and starts absorbing sugar (or glucose) instead. Your white blood cells then become less capable of fighting illness.

The strange thing was, I didn’t really miss sugar as such. I missed my habitual routine more. I was craving something else. This missing link that sugar was in league with was my own mind. When I thought about having sugar, that feel good rush, that hit, I wanted it and I had to have it. The hidden enemy seemed to be thinking about having sugar before actually giving into the craving itself.

I wanted the satisfaction of rewarding myself with a sugary treat. There has been a lot of press recently in regards to the negative effects of sugar in the diet. Here’s the thing – I actually felt better in myself and not so moody and emotional when I reduced my intake of sugary food and drinks. I cannot deny it.

I would say that excessive amounts of sugar in our diet is causing a myriad of health problems. Sugar is the lovable rogue. It’s the old saying -we can have too much of a good thing. We enjoy eating it and we get pleasure from it. If taken in moderate quantities, it should do no real lasting harm. Lord knows I have eaten enough of it in the past working in the chocolate industry. I see the consumption of sugar as a very special treat. Working in luxury retail, I see it as just that. A luxury. A reward for a hard day’s work to be used and appreciated frugally.

I have learned to change my perception towards how I feel about sugar over the years. If I can do it, you can do it too. I exercise regularly and eat healthy food (being the goody two shoes I am). I don’t deny myself pleasure from the food I eat but I allow myself a little of everything – little being the important word here. In regards to what I said previously, it is a matter of becoming more informed and aware of what we are actually eating on a daily basis. This includes the quality AND the quantity.

It seems to be the hidden danger of added sugar to our food could be responsible for the massive increase in health problems such as obesity, heart disease and of course diabetes to name but a few. The way around it is as follows – read the label. Become aware of how sugar tastes and how it makes you feel. As we consume so much of it in our day-to-day diet, our palettes have become less sensitive to the taste of sugar. As for real flavour? If all you can detect is sugar, you are not really tasting your food properly. And where’s the joy in that?

Why is it that we always crave what is forbidden and bad for us? Let me tell you something I have learned from my own experience – if we cannot have it, we want it so much more. Don’t, therefore eliminate sugar from your diet altogether. Binge eating on sugar is no way to go either. You will not be able to have a balanced diet otherwise. Approach and treat sugar with the respect it deserves. It is just like fire in my opinion – a good slave but a bad master if not well controlled. It can make us feel good in small doses and it can cheer us up….and a small dose is all any of us need.

If we respect the food we eat, we then learn to appreciate it. If we care about how it has been grown, cultivated and treated on its way to our dinner table, we are doing our own physical health a great service. Not only that, but we are also caring for the environment in the way we should.

That ain’t bad at all…..

© Christina McDonald 2014

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