Pictured: Me, blissfully enjoying sugar before this challenge started
When the NaturallyCurly team decided to do a No Sugar Challenge we felt excited, anxious, and a little out of our depths. We can talk braid outs and fatty alcohols all day, but when it comes to diet and nutrition I called on registered dietitian Kim Rose to answer some of our most pressing questions. She has over 6 years of experience as a general practice dietitian, long-term care dietitian and outpatient renal dietitian.
"What is actually happening to our body every time we consume processed sugar?" - Devri
In the human body, processed or added sugar (ex: candy, soda) is metabolized and digested just like naturally occurring sources of sugar (ex: fruit). In the society we live, the consumption of too much added sugars has become a major health concern. If we fail to practice mindful eating it is simple to grab a candy bar which is loaded with added sugars and empty calories and skip over the nutrient dense, low calorie apple. When we consume too much added sugars in our diet it may eventually lead to obesity. According to the Mayo Clinic (2015) obesity is directly linked to numerous health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even cancer.
"What is the recommended amount to consume each day?" - Devri
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we limit our intake of added sugars to no more than 10% of our total calorie intake. For example, if you consume 1800 calories in one day then the recommended intake of added sugars should be no more than 180 calories or 10%.
"I hear people experience headaches, low energy, and bad moods when they stop eating sugar - why does this happen?" - Cristina
Consider this: sugar is a highly palatable substance. According to the Luttner and Nestler (2009) the intake of highly palatable foods can release a feel good chemical found in the brain by the name of dopamine. I have not found any research to solidify this point, but hypothetically when we are accustomed to eating a highly palatable food and then abruptly stop—initially this feel good hormone may not be released.
"What's a good coping mechanism for sugar withdrawals?" - Alexandra
Two words: will power and mindful eating practices! Will power is pretty self-explanatory. In a nutshell mindful eating is a concept that empowers you to be fully aware of your nutritional choices while enjoying palatable and nutritious foods. In my opinion these are two concepts to help someone not only cope, but overcome sugar withdrawals.
"Will my taste palette experience a dramatic change?" - Gerilyn
When you are accustomed to eating processed sugars and then abruptly stop, your taste buds may be in for a culture shock. Naturally occurring sugars may taste boring. Fortunately, the way we enjoy food is more than just taste. There's flavor and experience that's linked with sweet, savory, or bitter foods. We can look forward to changing our psychological and sensory relationship with food and eventually enjoy foods we had a previous aversion to.
"Why is it so hard to resist sugar? What is wrong with me?! HELP!!" - Gerilyn
There is nothing wrong with you; the struggle is real! There are two pathways which controls our food intake. The first pathway is called the homeostasis pathway and motivates us to eat when we are truly hungry. The second pathway is called the hedonic pathway and motivates us to eat not as a reward. When we condition ourselves to think of processed sugar as a reward it can be hard to resist.
"If we go out to eat for instance, what are the safest foods to order that we can be pretty sure don't have sugar?" - Kiana
It really depends on the food establishment one chooses to attend seeing every restaurant has a different menu. Educating ourselves on what foods contain added sugars would be a safer alternative. For instance, ketchup, yogurt, baked beans, and BBQ sauce all contain added sugar. The best thing to do is to ask the restaurant for a nutrition label or look it up on the internet.
"What are some safe dressings for salad that don't have sugar?" - Kiana
Homemade salad dressing lol! To be honest, I personally don't like ANY store bought salad dressing so I am not familiar with what's on the market. There's a banging recipe I like from my friend Kirk. I call it Kirk's Salad Dressing. He combines ½ Cup extra virgin olive oil with ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice with onion powder, garlic powder, and parsley to taste.
You can see more of Kim Rose on her YouTube channel where she talks Life as a Dietitian, Healthy Plant-Based Recipes, and How to Live A Healthy Lifestyle.
Obesity. (2015, June 10). Retrieved January 08, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obesity/symptoms-causes/syc-20375742
Lutter, M., & Nestler, E. J. (2009, March). Homeostatic and Hedonic Signals Interact in the Regulation of Food Intake. Retrieved January 08, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2714382/