One of THE BIGGEST hurdles in the Whole30 challenge is “slaying the sugar dragon”. Many of us love our sweets and the thought of letting them go, well, isn’t so sweet. But it is SO worth it, even if it is just for the nutrition portion of the commitment. You see, sugar promotes over consumption and promotes an inability to control cravings and behavior. Sugar also disrupts normal hormone balance, which has a cascade of negative effects on the body. Sugar also compromises the lining durability in the stomach which allows “nasties” to get into the bloodstream that were never intended to be there, potentially promoting inflammation and decreased immune function in the body. This, as was learned previously, creates a playground for disease to come together, and potentially take up residence in our bodies (Hartwig, p87 & 88).
Sugar does not promote a healthy psychological response. In fact, sugar influences the feel good chemical, dopamine. Which suggests we are consuming sugar laden foods more for pleasure-eating rather than hunger eating, because we are looking for a “fix”, if you will. That may sound dramatic, but some research suggests sugar may be more rewarding than cocaine. Sugar has also been shown to influence dopamine in a similar way as cocaine and meth. What a different way to look at having a “sweet tooth”.
Additionally, sugar does not promote normal hormonal balance. Sugar drastically reduces the suppression of the hormone ghrelin, which means there is more of the hormone in the bloodstream, making you feel like eating more. Fructose interferes with the hormone leptin, which prohibits you from feeling full. Where does fructose show up? Fruits, sugar cane and honey. These sugars have been around since the beginning of time (I’m assuming). However, they were only available in certain seasons, meaning they were not available for consumption all the time, in unlimited supply. They were a treat if you will, and enjoyed when available.
Sugar also increases insulin, which has the potential to be bad. When we consume sugar, or other forms of sugar like dairy, malt beverages (beer), cereals, and white potatoes, we have an insulin response. If the muscles are already full with glycogen (sugar), then it looks to see if the brain needs more sugar, if none is needed there due to little activity, the third place sugar looks to is the body, which becomes stored body fat. So during this commitment, the best time to consume fruits, potatoes, or any starchy veggie, ideally would be AFTER a workout, IF fat loss is a primary goal for the challenge. We can cover that more, later.
If losing your “sweet tooth” is a goal for the nutrition portion of the commitment, I would suggest limiting your fruit intake to one serving per day. You will most likely find on various social media pages the promoted use of Lara Bars for a quick, “go-to”, Whole30 approved item (be careful they are not all approved). I would limit these as well, again, if you would like to eliminate your sugar craving during the challenge.
It may seem overwhelming to think of giving up sugar. When the thought begins to become too much, be encouraged to ask yourself some questions.
Do I want to be controlled by a possible addiction to sugar?
Do I want to continue to struggle with the lack of energy, foggy brain and slow metabolism?
Do I want to be malnourished, because sugar is that hard to let go?
Do I really want to be healthier, less achy, and better prepared to prohibit or fight some diseases many chalk up to just accompanying “old age”?
God desires we be healthy and influenced by His Spirit alone, Galatians 5:16-17 says:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
Likely, the author of Galatians was not addressing the use of sugar. These verses come to mind because of the relationship between flesh and spirit. Just knowing it may be considered to be just as addictive as cocaine, it leaves one to conclude such control is unhealthy for not only our bodies, as we've seen, but our sensitivity to God's Spirit as well. The Lord will help us slay the "sugar dragon" as we continue to call on Him for help.
Perhaps there is a conviction to allow God to bring healing in this area of your life. To allow you the opportunity to live life free from a sugar addiction and all the negative ramifications it brings. Pray. There is no request too small for God to respond to. There is no area deemed as unimportant for God to bring healing. In fact, I would venture to say He is fully aware of the damage some nutrition choices are having on our overall well-being, and has just been waiting for us to seek Him in this area of our lives.