About a year and a half ago, on the advice of a colleague, I gave up refined sugar. I was noticing that when I ate chocolate, the osteoarthritis in my fingers would flare up. Usually, I have no symptoms in my hands at all, so when I began having pain, my desire for chocolate diminished significantly.
Giving up chocolate was easy when I also decided to give up white sugar, as the two go together, traditionally.
Interestingly, when I stopped the sugar, I noticed a real change in my overall health.
Looking back, I’d have to say that stopping refined sugar was the most powerful health intervention I’ve ever undertaken. My overall state of well-being has never been better, and the general level of inflammation in my body is at an all-time low.
Refined sugar is a real bad guy. High sugar consumption is associated with low levels of good HDL cholesterol and higher levels of the bad triglycerides.
Refined sugar is thought to be associated with increased inflammation in the body, which might be implicated in the development or worsening of osteoporosis, arthritis, dementia and even cancer.
I’ve never eaten high-fructose corn syrup – there’s enough in the news today to know that this stuff is evil – but I was a lot more lackadaisical about refined sugar, until I realized that it’s probably just as bad.
So, what do you do when your sweet tooth is calling to you? Well, first of all, you need to know that sugar is highly addictive, and that when you give it up, your cravings will begin to lessen over time. In fact, within one to two months, they’ll probably be non-existent.
Even so, if you just like something sweeter than a piece of fruit or a handful of berries, there are other excellent options: a bowl of Greek yogurt flavored with a spoonful of maple syrup; some fruit compote cooked without sugar or with a dash of Agave syrup; a baked apple sweetened with a little bit of honey – all of these make a tasty and nutritious treat. Or, if you must have chocolate, here’s a great recipe for home-made chocolates.
About the author
Dr. Marcia Sirota is a Toronto-based board certified psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of trauma and addiction, as well as founder of the Ruthless Compassion Institute, whose mandate is to promote the philosophy of Ruthless Compassion and in so doing, improve the lives of people, everywhere.