“Rats will work for sugar water the same way they will work for cocaine. We need to take addictions seriously.” Dr. Daniel Amen
My name is Todd Vande Hei, and I’m a sugaraholic. Even though I’m in the health industry, I still struggle to avoid certain foods. . . . for me, it’s sugar. I know this is a common battle amongst many; for me, I’ve been able to limit it but found myself gorging on natural foods with lots of sweets because I was attempting to keep myself from doing the same with processed sugar.
It’s really all the same.
A couple of times a week, as per my prescribed nutrition program, I would “cheat.” My go-to food was ice cream. Ah, ice cream. The next day I would, inevitably, have a slight headache and look a bit puffy. I thought it was a minor intolerance to dairy. A few weeks ago I had a blood test done (MRT LEAP test) to check for my food sensitivities of which there are many. The one, which really hit hard, was fructose.
For those unaware, fructose is the type of sugar found naturally in many foods, primarily fruit. Because that food is so far reaching, I called the lab expecting them to tell me I had to avoid high-fructose corn syrup—nasty stuff; hyper-sweet, low calorie, processed food. The lovelylady on the other end of the call explained that, no, it was ALL fructose. You see, every time I eat fructose, according to the test, my body responds with inflammation. That can cause a variety of symptoms. For me, it was a mildly uncomfortable headache. Not much fun.
As I started to consider the ramifications of avoiding fructose, I did some reading on this delicious yet deviant food (I’ll now refer to it as my mistress). My mistress seems to be everywhere. Speaking ever so softly, like the devil you carry around on your shoulder she is witty, persuasive, all knowing. Found not only in fruit, but all things sweet, she is a component of sucrose (table sugar). Think in terms of avoiding ALL processed foods with some form of sweetener. Think about avoiding all of those wonderful NATURAL sweeteners like honey, and maple syrup (my mouth is now watering). If it’s sweet, my mistress is there, beckoning you, ready to be devoured. ALL FOODS THAT ARE SWEET!
Like buying a new car, and suddenly seeing that same car pop up in traffic, everywhere, my awareness of sweet things is now in a heightened state. Enjoying slices of raw bell peppers last night (green and red), the red actually tasted sweeter. Technically a fruit, has my mistress been there, dusting even the bell pepper with her magic? And what about the tomato—considered by most a vegetable, but technically a fruit? Yes and yes!
Where do I draw the line? How faithful am I to be to the cause? Am I to be partially pregnant with this crusade? No! Well, yes. I’ve decided that it’s ok to enjoy foods where she’s only a mere memory, a shade of her once powerful and virile self: bell peppers, tomatoes, avocados, etc. If I can’t taste her sweetness, I’ve found I don’t find myself at the bottom of that slippery slope; at the empty bag of gluten-free ginger snaps or the shiny, wet bottom of a pint of Chubby Hubby Ice Cream, only to search the kitchen for more.
Goodbye to her forever! We’ve broken up. As a slap in the face, she’s left me with weeks of pain: missing her (mostly at night), depression, anxiety, fatigue, and headaches. It has been just over a week without her, and I’m now just a shadow of my old self with only sheer determination and the hope of being a better man for my wife, my children and my business. According to the experts, those symptoms may last as long as a few weeks and may also disrupt your sleep. The reasons? There are many; however, to sum it up, it’s like a drug addiction, as Dr. Amen put it. As such, I decided to cut her out of my life completely. Be tough about it. The “manly” approach. That may not be the wisest course of action, considering the withdrawal symptoms. You may prefer a more systematic approach: ditch the processed foods, and then go for the natural versions you’ll find in maple syrup, honey and high-glycemic fruit. For me, I’m trying to break myself of the memory of her sweetness, or at least to not crave her so.
Although, I’ve given my mistress a firm “good bye,” I still find her in my thoughts: at a traffic light, while reading, certainly while cooking, at work, doing homework with the kids. She’s just a whisper now, but still powerful: “indulge—I will help raise your serotonin levels; your growth hormone production will increase if you have me in the evenings; I’ll wake your thyroid up, just a little; you’ll be able to stop this time; you need to put a little bit of weight on; you need to replenish the glycogen stores in your muscles; a little 85% cocoa organic dark chocolate won’t hurt; it’s the weekend; or, it’s Monday.” She is relentless using all of the logic, all of my knowledge and expertise against me, trying to justify rekindling my relationship. The truth is, I want her back, even though I know she’s not good for me.
That’s where you, my friends, come in. I need community support. “Alone you go quickly; together we go far,” I can’t recall the author in my lack-o-sugar withdrawal induced fog, but it was certainly not me.
Help! Let’s build some walls to keep her out; she’s after us all! I know I’m not alone. The rules are here:
- 30 days, starting April 1(start slow or jump in like me)
- No natural high-glycemic foods like honey or maple syrup
- No sugar substitutes
- No fruit juices
So, let’s get together, share our victories, support each other through defeats. Post your thoughts, how you feel, share your ideas. Below are some great reasons for you to seize the day and man up!
78 Reasons to Avoid Sugar
Straight from the writings of Dr. Victor Frank, founder/creator of Total Body Modification, here are 78 reasons to avoid sugar.
1. Sugar can suppress the immune system.
2. Sugar can upset the body’s mineral balance.
3. Sugar can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, concentration difficulties, and crankiness in children.
4. Sugar can drowsiness and decreased activity in children.
5. Sugar can adversely affect children’s school grades.
6. Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.
7. Sugar contributes to a weakened defense against bacterial infection.
8. Sugar can cause kidney damage.
9. Sugar can reduce helpful high density cholesterol.
10. Sugar can promote an elevation of harmful cholesterol.
11. Sugar may lead to chromium deficiency.
12. Sugar may cause copper deficiency.
13. Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
14. Sugar may lead to cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, and rectum.
15. Sugar can cause colon cancer with an increased risk in women.
16. Sugar can be a risk factor in gall bladder cancer.
17. Sugar can increase fasting levels of blood glucose.
18. Sugar can weaken eyesight.
19. Sugar raises the level of a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which can narrow blood vessels.
20. Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
21. Sugar can produce acidic stomach.
22. Sugar can raise adrenaline levels in children.
23. Sugar can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
24. Sugar can speed the aging process, causing wrinkles and gray hair.
25. Sugar can lead to alcoholism.
26. Sugar can produce tooth decay.
27. Sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity.
28. High intake of sugar increases the risk of Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
29. Sugar can case a raw, inflamed intestinal tract in person with gastric or duodenal ulcers.
30. Sugar can cause arthritis.
31. Sugar can cause asthma.
32. Sugar can cause candidiasis (yeast infection).
33. Sugar can lead to the formation of gallstones.
34. Sugar can lead to the formation of kidney stones.
35. Sugar can cause ischemic heart disease.
36. Sugar can cause appendicitis.
37. Sugar can exacerbate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
38. Sugar can indirectly cause hemorrhoids.
39. Sugar can cause varicose veins.
40. Sugar can elevate glucose and insulin responses in oral contraception users.
41. Sugar can lead to periodontal disease.
42. Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
43. Sugar contributes to saliva acidity.
44. Sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity.
45. Sugar leads to a decreased glucose tolerance.
46. Sugar can decrease growth hormone.
47. Sugar can increase total cholesterol.
48. Sugar can increase systolic blood pressure.
49. Sugar can change the structure of protein causing interference with protein absorption.
50. Sugar causes food allergies.
51. Sugar can contribute to diabetes.
52. Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.
53. Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
54. Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.
55. Sugar can impair the structure of DNA.
56. Sugar can cause cataracts.
57. Sugar can cause emphysema.
58. Sugar can cause atherosclerosis.
59. Sugar can cause free radical formation in the bloodstream.
60. Sugar lowers the enzymes’ abilities to function.
61. Sugar can cause the loss of tissue elasticity and function.
62. Sugar can cause liver cells to divide, increasing the size of the liver.
63. Sugar can increase the amount of fat in the liver.
64. Sugar can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney.
65. Sugar can overstress the pancreas, causing damage.
66. Sugar can increase the body’s fluid retention.
67. Sugar can cause constipation.
68. Sugar can cause myopia (nearsightedness).
69. Sugar can compromise the lining of the capillaries.
70. Sugar can cause hypertension.
71. Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.
72. Sugar can cause an increase in delta, alpha, and theta brain waves, which can alter the mind’s ability to think clearly.
73. Sugar can cause depression.
74. Sugar can increase insulin responses in those consuming high-sugar diets compared to low-sugar diets.
75. Sugar increases bacterial fermentation in the colon.
76. Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance.
77. Sugar can increase blood platelet adhesiveness, which increases risk of blood clots.
78. Sugar can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.