I agree that sugar is a big problem in the American society. It is highly addictive and can attribute to several health concerns. But, are we doing more harm than good by portraying it as the ultimate evil?
The other night I was with some friends at a local ice cream place. Ironically enough, we were talking about nutrition when a lady overhead our conversation and jumped in. She was very polite and well-meaning but a few things she said troubled me.
1. She definitively blaming sugar for the countries weight problem
2. She talked about a sugar ‘detox’
3. She said personal trainers don’t do nutrition
Please, allow me to say this again: she was incredibly well-meaning and very sweet. However, she wasn’t as knowledgeable as she needed to be on this subject. Clearly, empowered by a Multi-Level Marketing campaign (that’s not a slight of MLM, in general, I am a fan of MLM, after all, everything is multi-level marketing, but that’s a post for another day).
I sat, smiled, and nodded my head as she spoke with my friends, all the while thinking about writing this article. This article is not to bash this sweet, well-meaning lady. Rather, it’s to caution you on the dangers of demonizing a single element as the cause of any problem. In this case, it just so happens to be based within the context of nutrition.
Issue #1: Blaming Sugar
You see, while she was talking about how bad sugar is for you we were at an ice cream shop. Ask yourself this, could I go the rest of my life without eating ice cream… chocolate… pizza… fill in the blank with your guilty pleasure. (For those of you who don’t know me that well, or a first time reader, mine is cheesecake.)
That was a rhetorical question. It’s absurd to think that you’ll go the rest of your life without eating some of your favorite un-‘healthy’ foods. Therefore, it does no good to completely eliminate them out of your life.
The Forbidden Fruit Phenomena
This one dates back to the beginning of man-kind. Adam and Eve gave into the temptation of the “forbidden fruit.” They had access to everything, except one tree. They gave into the pressure and ate the forbidden fruit.
This is a principle I carefully put into play with all of my clients. Most people who work with me, find that I’m more lenient than what they had initially expected. When you tell people they can’t have or do something, it increases the desire to want to do it.
If you have kids, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Tell them not to push a button and you can bet your bottom-dollar that button will be pushed. It has nothing to do with kids, it’s basic human nature and something, I’m afraid, very difficult to grow out of.
This is very similar to the old saying: the grass is greener on the other side.
Perception is a critical element here. How we perceive things determines a large portion of our actions and/or inactions. It’s critical that we not completely eliminate your favorite foods. From a psychological health standpoint, this is critical. We must set ourselves up to win.
The “Screw It” Stage
My friends, if we say that we’re going to not eat any ‘junk’ food again, the moment that you do, you’ll have a great sense of disappointment and failure. Yes, I talk about growing through failure and we can learn from this failure as with all failures. However, this need not be a lesson, as this failure can and should be avoided.
Often when this happens, one will go “off the rails.” You’ve stuck with your diet for a few weeks and then you slip up one time and you feel guilty. So guilty, in fact, that you say, “well, I’ve already cheated on my diet, I might as well go all out.” Or to put it more simply and arguably more appropriately, “I’ve already cheated on my diet, so fuck it, might as well go all out.”
I’ve seen this time and time again and I’ve experienced it myself. This often is a steep, downhill slide. This opens up the flood gates for your inherent, hedonistic, human nature. Typically, this will not last for a few hours (which would be totally manageable) but, more likely, last for a few days. This is where damage can be done.
It takes a lot of effort to avoid sugar and it’s quite possible the closest thing to impossible that there is. Even while on a ketogenic diet, it was difficult to eliminate sugar completely. It’s a battle that’s not worth fighting, honestly.
The 80/20 principle is one I think about a lot. The diet you stick to 80% of the time will be the one that your body shows. Now, most people would be happy with their physical body if they ate what they should 80% of the time. There would be a few that would like to look better. For those, they would need to increase the percentage, more than likely.
You are allowed and should be to have an occasional ‘cheat.’ However, ‘cheat’ is a poor word choice here because it’s not a ‘cheat’ if it’s part of a plan. If it’s part of the plan, then you’re still on track my friend.
It is possible to look good, be healthy, and enjoy your eating habits. I have clients that eat in various ways. It’s all based on their goals, their daily lives, and their preferences. There are methods to this madness, which many of my clients have experienced and thoroughly enjoyed.
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Getting results is surprisingly easy from a methods standpoint. The work is what’s hard. There is no shortage of hard work for those who answer the call to be #Relentless. But, you can be sure there is very little wasted time or effort.
Issue #2: Sugar “Detox”
I think most people how I feel about “detox’s.” Once again, if you are a new reader of mine, let me say THANK YOU and to find out how I feel about “detox’s” and “cleanses,” click here. You’ll also find a better solution.
Issue #3: Trainers Don’t Help With Nutrition
The fucking good ones do.
I cuss sometimes. I like to think I do it tactfully. I find that there isn’t much more affective than a well placed, and delivered, cuss word. Who ever decided cuss words were cuss words anyway?
The very fact the conversation about nutrition I talked about at the beginning of this article took place at an ice cream shop, with knowledgeable individuals in the field of nutrition, speaks to the fact that sugar (among other indulgences) cannot be avoided. It’s pointless to try and the ROI just isn’t there.
Am I condoning massive sugar consumption? Heck no!!
All I’m saying is that: perhaps, moderation is the answer. As with most things the answer lies not at the extremes but somewhere in the middle. It’s up to each individual to find his or her sweet spot (no pun intended).
To wrap this article up, be careful when demonizing a single component in a very complex, multi-moving part machine. When it comes to the human body, the big picture must be looked at in the context of all the moving parts.
Perhaps, I’ll dive into some research and pull out some gems as to what sugar can do in the body, good and bad. As always, comment below with questions. I’d love to answer them.
A couple things before you take off:
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Stay #Relentless, my friends