Lent*. It started early this year and I gave up the same stuff I have for the past 40something years: sweets, chips, fried foods. In addition to the spiritual value the practice holds for me, I embrace the discipline of it. The chips and fried foods fell off of my eating habits years ago naturally but sweets…cheesecake and chocolate are the devil in disguise.
Cutting out sweets (I’m talking about added sugar) from my diet has been easy-tough. I know barring sugar from my life is good. That makes it easy. But, sugar makes things go from tasting like cardboard to a little slice of heaven. That makes it tough to resist. But, I’m getting there because the ills of sugar keep piling up in the literature like the frosting on a triple layer cake.
Sugar is toxic. It can cause us to overeat, gain weight, and become obese. Sugar keeps our heads from telling our stomachs to quit eating because sugar prevents cells in the brain from working properly. That may easily explain those midnight trips to the pantry and refrigerator raids.
Sugar is linked to type 2 diabetes, stroke, poor memory formation, depression, learning disorders, stroke, Alzheimer’s, liver problems, and metabolic syndrome which can domino into other health problems. Some can be difficult or impossible to reverse. As scary as the thought of those things are, they don’t even compare to what our addiction to sugar is doing to our brains.
To clarify, our brains need sugar to function. It needs to get that from glucose (blood sugar), not added sugar. High sugar diets keep the brain from producing a chemical that helps us form new memories. Without that chemical, we’d have a hard time learning, much less remembering. As this chemical decreases, sugar metabolism starts to worsen. Hello diabetes. No, thank you. Not for this girl. Not in this lifetime, if I can help it. And, I think I can.
This no-sugar thing is clearing my mind, heart, and body. It makes me feel like I am the master of my health. Rather than gaining weight, I am gaining momentum and I am feeling better than ever. Seriously. I am less hungry because I am not crashing in the afternoon from sugar withdrawal. I have more energy – believe it or not – because I am getting my energy from the naturally occurring sugar I am consuming in fruits and grains.
I am on a new kind of “sugar high” and it is turning out to be as sweet as ever.
Just for the health of it,
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*Lent is the forty days and nights before Easter in the Catholic faith that commemorate Christ’s fasting in the dessert before his crucifixion.