In our society we focus a lot on freedom, but are we really free? That’s the million dollar question. This year, all of America learned about and many celebrated Juneteenth for the first time. Juneteenth is Freedom Day in our African American culture. Isn’t it ironic that although we have been liberated, many of us are still enslaved… to sugar.
As addictive as cocaine and readily available at any corner store or fast food eatery, the negative effects of excessive sugar intake are many. According research, eating sugar causes an insulin response in your body – meaning your blood sugar spikes, insulin is released, and then your blood sugar drops and you crave it again and again. When your blood sugar drops, your body sees it as a state of emergency, then you crave food to fix the situation. Does this sound familiar?
Research also shows that a diet high in refined carbohydrates (including sugary foods and drinks) is also linked to an inflammatory response within the body, acne, obesity, insulin resistance and premature aging. It causes puffiness and achiness. While it tastes good, taking in excess sweets can lead to diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, cavities, gout, impaired memory, dementia, fatty liver, cancer, depression – the list goes on and on!
Why would anyone continue to take in excess sugar when it causes all of these negative effects? Simply because it tastes and feels good! Sugar activates a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, which is associated with motivation and pleasure. This same part of the brain is activated by drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine’s. Sugar is legal and readily available, which makes it hard to avoid. And the job of food designers is to create foods that hook your brain so you will come back for more.
But there is hope for our independence from sugar addiction. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV says, ‘if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’ God can help you become new. By faithfully making small changes, we can begin to limit our sugar intake. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, focusing on fresh, whole ingredients. Choose marinades and sauces with zero added sugar. Drink black coffee or add only Stevia to sweeten it. Swap out sodas, energy drinks, juices and sweetened teas for water or unsweetened seltzer. Use olive oil and vinegar in place of sweet salad dressings. This may be difficult at first, as you deal with your cravings- but you can do it. With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26 NIV)! Your body will start to detoxify and heal itself, and your bodily systems will begin to normalize. With only these changes, you will be well on your way to recovering from your addiction.
Sugar free at last.
Free fitness training is available through the Live Well Church FITCARE program, offered at the Fitness Doctor Studio with offices in Somerset and Windsor, New Jersey. Please contact my assistant, Karen Beasley at 732-912-4435 to schedule a free assessment.
Live Whole, Live Well, Live Free. Kahlil Carmichael, MAPCC, MDIV, CPT
Disclaimer: The information contained in this column is of a general nature. You should consult your physician or health care professional before beginning any exercise program or changing your dietary regimen.