Is Sugar Really Toxic? Inside The Ugly World of my Prenatal Ben & Jerry’s Addiction

Man, do I love sugar. And when I was pregnant, it was as if my sweet tooth was doing steroids.

On the one hand I felt guilty, and like a bad mom, for indulging so much. On the other hand, I thought: I’m pregnant. I want ice cream. There’s nothing interesting going on here. 

But it wasn’t just about the obvious sugar, like ice cream. It was about the hidden sugar too.

I had food aversions throughout my pregnancy and sadly they were not to bagels and pizza (more like chicken and veggies). So I wound up eating a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bowls of cereal. Before baby Barron I never ate that kind of stuff.

One morning, I decided to check out the sugar content of my oatmeal squares and organic whole milk. I knew it wasn’t going to be good but, I looked anyway. Turns out that combined, they contain 20 grams of sugar. That’s the equivalent of half a can of regular Coke. For breakfast!

Bleh. It got me thinking…

Is sugar really toxic?

Also, was the baby gonna come out addicted to Ben & Jerry’s?

These questions lead me to The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes and David Lustig’s riveting YouTube lecture. And it turns out, that yes, yes it is.

Here’s why:

1. Sugar is the most damaging part of our modern food landscape.

The evidence is mounting into a compelling case against sugar. Many believe that it’s tied to most of the diseases we suffer from as a society: obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, fatty liver disease and even Alzheimer’s. It seems the combo of processed carbs and sugar is killing us slowly over time.

If all of those scary-sounding diseases seem too far away to worry about, perhaps this will be more relevant now: sugar is also making us fat and ugly.

2. Sugar is everywhere and in everything.

Next time you’re in the grocery store, flip over any packaged food and check out the sugar content. You’ll see sugar, and way more of it than you would have guessed.

This is one of the major challenges we face in losing weight. Sugar makes us pack on the pounds, but even the ‘healthy’ foods we’re eating when trying to lose weight are packed with it. Foods like low-fat yogurt, fat-free breakfast cereal, and granola. Even some of the smoothies you see on your favorite Instagram feeds are packed with sugar. It’s become crazy hard to avoid it.

3. Sugar is addicting.

Sure, maybe we don’t hear about people shooting up convenience stores for sugar money but, that doesn’t mean it’s not equally as addicting as some drugs. It’s also legal. And a lot cheaper than drugs. So there’s really no need to rob anybody in the first place.

Ever seen that episode of Sex and the City where Miranda throws away the chocolate cake but then goes back and eats it out of the trash? I mean, we’ve all been there, right? (RIGHT?!)

The Addictive Cycle of Sugar

  • You eat the sugar.
  • Your blood sugar spikes and dopamine is released in your brain giving you a high.
  • Insulin is secreted to bring your blood sugar back down and your high subsides.
  • The drop in blood sugar makes you crave more sugar.

Why did sugar become so pervasive in our food supply in the first place?

It makes food taste better and last longer.

Food companies love it because it’s cheap, it makes us want to eat more of their food and it’s a good preservative.

And we demonized fat.

Because of faulty research, cherry-picked data and a guy named Ancel Keys, the USDA began urging Americans to eat less fat and cholesterol. It became a widespread, misguided “fact” that fat was bad for our hearts. This has since been disproven, but it’s taking a helluva long time for the word to get out.

As fat became public enemy #1, food companies removed it from their products to promote them as healthy. But when you remove fat from foods that are supposed to have it, they taste like dog shit. And the only solution is to add sugar. So low fat food became a craze and everyone started consuming a lot more sugar.

So here we are today.

We’re a society addicted to sugar. And sugar is easy to come by. Our health is crumbling before our eyes. Our children are becoming obese as early as elementary school. And cardiovascular disease is killing us by the thousands. Oh, and our pants are too tight.

So what do we do?

How do we fight back? How do we get this toxic, waist-expanding, disease-promoting bullshit out of our diets? Seems to me, there are a few ways to do it.

Go cold turkey.

This works for a lot of folks though, if you’re addicted, you can expect to feel literal withdrawal symptoms and potentially get the ‘sugar flu’ as your body adjusts. Programs like Whole30 or our cleanse are a great place to start if you want to go this route.

Do it gradually.

There’s a program, I Quit Sugar, that I’ve been eyeing for a more gradual approach. To go the gradual route on your own, just start to acknowledge the problem. Observe how much you’re eating. Figure out what triggers your cravings and become more conscious about cutting back.

Combine a few or all of the following suggestions.

Go Paleo.

Reduce your overall carb consumption. This will help your blood sugar and insulin levels stay stable, so you can avoid that crappy feeling of low blood sugar.

Get more sleep and drink more water.

This will help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and give you more energy while you reduce sugar. When we’re tired, we naturally crave it.

Eat more healthy fats

Fats like avocado, olive oil, grass-fed meats, pasture-raised eggs and wild-caught, fatty fish. Fats are satiating and keep energy levels stable longer. This will help you avoid cravings. Cravings are strongest, and willpower weakest, when we’re hungry.

Minimize alcohol and caffeine.

They can cause the same type of blood sugar swings you’ll want to avoid.

So that’s what I tried and failed to do the second half of my pregnancy. But, as of writing this, I’m on day 28 of  my no sugar cleanse and it’s going fantastic! Apparently Bridget and I were both doing sugar cleanses at the same time and didn’t even realize it. We’ll give you a full run down on how it went soon.

Until then, if you want to give it a go, we highly recommend our cleanse. You can get it free right here.

The Simple Cleanse

Start your free 3-day trial today!
Dana

Author Dana

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