No really, you probably are, and so was I! But I don’t mean ‘Oh, you’re too kind,’’ type of sweet. I mean your blood has too much sugar in it. “Yikes!” level sugar. I realize that jumping out into the blogging world telling people they don’t need to eat sugar is probably not my best move, so instead I’m just going to tell you why I don’t eat refined sugar for the most part at all anymore. And maybe it will be good motivation for you to be aware and intentional about decreasing sugar this season, or at least not giving in to the oreo balls at every holiday gathering.
First of all, let me explain why I shifted my mindset from just “cleaning up sugar” i.e. eating organic sugar, to virtually eliminating refined sugar whether it was clean or not. I learned a fact, and it is this: Children today consume in one day the amount of sugar our bodies were designed to consume in one YEAR. If you need to read that sentence again, go right ahead. It blew my mind and scared me half to death. I needed to know more about why this was happening and what on earth it was doing to our bodies.
Well, the why I actually already knew. It’s because sugar is addictive. Food manufacturers put sugar in our food and in our children’s food because having it makes us crave more of it, and we, in turn, buy more of it. And what is it doing to our bodies? To these physical vessels of which we each receive only one and must steward it well? It’s doing a whole lot, and not one bit of it is good. I don’t want you to stop reading this because it sounds sad or depressing, so I’m saving the deep-dive post on the major issues that come with sugar (#1 risk factor for cardiovascular disease! impairs brain function and focus, decreases immune function, negatively affects mood, causes a myriad of skin issues, and contributes to leaky gut to name a few… wah wah). I’m going to skip to the good and the how and the why I don’t eat it or want it anymore.
I, Beth Ann Davenport, was addicted to sugar. And I didn’t even know it! But it became very evident to me within days of giving it up because I benefited so much from giving myself a hard NO, on all things sugar at the beginning. There was no decision to make, no wondering how much was too much, or like an alcoholic with wine, could I have just one? Nope, not at first. But unlike an addiction to alcohol, which you often hear described as “day by day for the rest of your life,” I only needed to get sugar out of my system, and then the craving for it was gone. No joke, gone!
We hear that phrase a lot, right? “Get it out of your system” normally means have a whole bunch so you get sick of it or something to that effect. But, if I tell you that you need to get sugar out of your system, I mean sugar is already in there, and it needs to exit and not really come back. And it’s going to be really tempting for you to say that you can’t get it out of your system like that. That’s what I would have said not long ago, I assure you. I tell people all the time that the whole reason I think God called me into the role is because I am the absolute world’s least likely candidate to accomplish anything health-related successfully, so if I can do it, ANYONE can. But that’s easy for me to say on this side of the sugar, and hard for you to believe with holiday puppy chow available in your break room at work. So here is the science behind the addiction and how you can step out of the cycle.
First, you need to know this: you’re outnumbered. What do I mean by that? I mean that you have exponentially more bacterial cells in your digestive system, your “gut,” than you have your own cells in your entire body. Some estimates suggest that counting cell-by-cell, your body is actually 95% bacteria! What?! This plethora of bacteria in your belly are referred to collectively as your microbiome, and there are a whole bunch of different strains (strain is really just another word for type in this instance) of bacteria living as part of it. Which strains survive and thrive in your microbiome is dependent on what you’re feeding them. So if you feed your body sugar, then the bacterial and fungal strains that love sugar will multiply and thrive. As those cells are living and thriving, they produce neurochemicals that send signals via your vagus nerve from your gut to your brain telling it to feed them more of that thing that makes them thrive. Sugar. *Enter craving more sugar and eating more sugar, and the cycle is completed and begins again.* Their mission is accomplished. But that mission can be futile if you’re equipped to fight it!
Remember how we said that your body is up to 95% bacteria by cell count? Then how is it that you’re not just one giant bug walking around? Because bacterial and fungal cells are teensy tinsey itsy bitsy. And teensy tinsey itsy bitsy cells have a teensy tinsey itsy bitsy life span. It takes three-ish days on average for your microbiome to turn over. Three days, and a big chunk of those little buggers could be starved off! You can give up anything for three days, right?
Will you despise sugar after three days? No. But you will crave it less, maybe even less enough that you’ll want to go another three days, and then another? By two weeks, you can significantly reset your body and stop all the yuck that sugar can accomplish in your insides? Just try it! Three days with no sugar, and let me know how it goes!! I know, like I know know, that you can do it! Annnnd GO!