Quitting added sugar is a great way of improving your health.
As redundant as it sounds, we can’t deny sugar makes life sweeter. Having some ice cream on a hot summer day, or chocolate cake for dessert, a handful of cookies with your coffee, all of them are the oh-so-sweet pleasures in life that come to our mind as soon as someone mentions the unthinkable feat of quitting sugar. Of course, by this I mean added sugar: our body does need sugar because it is fuel for the brain. The “good sugars” can be found in fruits and vegetables. However, as its name suggests, added sugar, the one we find in those delicious processed desserts and candy, is an extra load of sugar our body doesn’t need, so when we have it in excess, it can cause type 2 diabetes.
Quitting sugar might sound scary, but this fear is mostly based on uncertainty. I mean, we’re so used to added sugar and we find it in so many foods and dishes that it seems like an unimaginable task only a superhuman could achieve. But, guess what? It’s more doable than you would expect, and more importantly, it doesn’t really imply great sacrifices. You don’t have to eat dull or tasteless dishes: you just have to get creative and change your diet, while still keeping it healthy and delicious. Cutting out sugar has its perks and also a few cons that don’t really last. Here are some you should know if you’re thinking of taking the plunge and going for a sugar free diet.
You go through withdrawal symptoms
Let’s begin with the most obvious side effect. Like with any addiction, your body will first resent your decision to go cold turkey. Mostly, you’ll feel a craving for sugar and you’ll go through symptoms similar to a drug withdrawal: headaches, gastrointestinal changes, decrease of energy, and irritability. However, these symptoms can be easily calmed by eating fruit. Also, you can counteract them with healthy fats like avocado, nuts, Greek yogurt, or coconut.
You get used to eating more varied and nutritive foods
Now, let’s go with one of the pros. As you start to avoid food with added sugar, this can become an opportunity for you to try other foods and dishes you wouldn’t have eaten before. Thanks to St. Google, if you don’t know what to do with all those vegetables, nuts, and fruits that are now part of your diet, you can find plenty of recipes with delicious and unique combinations that can make this new lifestyle a way to improve your meals and make them so delicious you won’t even miss sugar.
Your skin changes
This is both a pro and a con. The ugly side: because of the changes in your diet, you’ll probably get acne. However, if you take care of your skin, it’ll last just a few days, or it’ll vanish almost as soon as it appeared. The real benefits are seen over time. One of the ways sugar affects your body is a process called glycation that deprives the skin of its elasticity and makes it prone to get wrinkled more easily. But once you quit sugar, you help your skin look younger and firmer.
You'll have less belly fat
A study by the American Heart Association links sugar-sweetened drinks to the increase of visceral fat, a.k.a. belly fat, as well as an increase of the risks of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. When you quit these sugars, you also decrease the possibilities of storing fat in your belly and all the organs located in that zone, like your pancreas and liver.
You improve your heart’s condition
Related to the last point, quitting added sugars not only helps your shape, but most importantly your heart. As this type of sugar turns into calories, when you ingest them excessively you increase your chances of heart disease.
Your willpower grows
Deciding to quit sugar requires a lot of willpower for the first two weeks. However, later on, you’ll realize it’s actually a piece of cake (pun intended) and most of it is in your head. Once you get used to not consuming added sugar, besides all the benefits for your body, the best part is knowing you’re capable of doing something you thought was impossible.
You can follow the golden rule of sugar: ingest no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day, or even better, you can avoid added sugars altogether. It's not the end of the world if you eat some cake, ice cream, or a chocolate bar once in a while. Just don’t make a habit of it.
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