Cutting Out Sugar? Read This First.

“Sugar is addictive”

“Cut out all sugar!!”

“Sugar feeds cancer”

Whoa, those are some strong statements. Are any of them true or is cutting out sugar necessary?

The short answer is not really.

Metabolically, all of the carbs in the foods you eat – grains, fruit, and starchy vegetables included – break down into sugar molecules called glucose in your gut. This is because your body’s most efficient source of energy is glucose. While large amounts of added sugar in your diet can cause diabetes and displace more nutrient dense whole foods, a little sugar in your life keeps things sweet.

“Sugar is addictive”

Humans are evolutionarily wired to like high-energy foods; that desire has kept us alive. Some studies show that eating sugar lights up the pleasure centers in your brain, similarly to how a drug might. This makes sense – finding pleasure in a high calorie substance will help us prioritize what to eat to survive. Now, we aren’t cavemen anymore, so sometimes this can get out of hand. But guess what also gives us a dopamine response? Music. Hugs. Laughter. Real addiction is serious, and involves dangerous withdrawal symptoms and behavioral changes. The current science does not support the idea that sugar is actually addictive.

Cut out all sugar!!”

What might make sugar feel addictive is actually its’ restriction. Cutting out dessert can lead to increased sweet food cravings, which might lead you to binge on more cookies or ice cream than you ever would have eaten in the first place. Allowing yourself to mindfully enjoy dessert will help your brain realize that this food is not “forbidden” and therefore there’s no need to seek out as much sugar as possible all in one sitting. Balance is possible!

“Sugar feeds cancer”

Cancer metabolism is highly complex; you should seek the support of an oncology dietitian during your treatment, but the truth is that any food will “feed” cancer. Metabolic changes occur that increase the supply of glucose to the cancer regardless of what type of food you eat. More importantly, any food will feed YOU. Clinical outcomes are much better when a cancer patient is well-fed before and during treatment. Food that tastes good is really important with metabolic shifts, nausea, and taste changes during cancer. There are ways to alter your diet to prevent or treat cancer that include sugar in a balanced way.

Find the sweet spot

In my practice, I use Intuitive Eating to help my clients work towards balance with their food cravings and being able to enjoy ALL their food, even if they do have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Do you need help finding this balance? Do you have more specific questions about sugar?

Schedule a FREE 15 minute call with me to see how we can work together towards helping you build some healthy habits that still give you room to enjoy your food.

Looking for my take on artificial sweeteners? Stay tuned for another blog post all about sugar substitutes!

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