That's me eating the food enemy: Sugar Image Credit: YZ

I’m feeling a bit better today. I spent all of yesterday eating clean, to the point that I didn’t even crave anything naughty to eat. I also skipped my workout last night. A friend asked to meet me before they went on a trip, so I decided to push my work out to today. This time I made a commitment to my trainer. No way was I getting out of this one. But I ate clean. It counts towards something doesn’t it?

I then thought about my protein intake, my lack of carbs and absolutely no sugar, even natural sugar found in fruit and I felt good about myself. This good feeling made me wonder… Which food is the real enemy?

I decided to go to an expert and I spoke to Dr. Marilyn Glenville PhD. She is the UK’s leading nutritionist, specialising in women’s health. “The real enemy in your food is sugar.” She told Gulf News. “Sugar is nothing more than empty calories – it gives you no nutritional value at all. Worse than that, because sugar is devoid of nutrients, your body has to use the essential nutrients stored in your system to digest the sugar.  So, not only are you getting absolutely no vital vitamins and minerals from the sugar, but your body is also losing valuable nutrients just by eating it. Hence, sugar causes a double whammy on the nutritional front and causes nutritional deficiencies.”

I always knew that sugar was what kept me overweight, but I always thought I was alright, since I never actually craved dessert often. However, sugar is not just in dessert. It’s in everything.  They’re in sandwich bread, chicken stock, pickles, salad dressing, crackers, yogurt and cereal, as well as in the obvious foods and drinks, like soda and desserts.

The biggest problem with added sweeteners is that they make it easy to overeat. They’re tasty and highly caloric but they often don’t make you feel full. Instead, they can trick you into wanting even more food. “Because we’re surrounded by added sweeteners — in our kitchens, in restaurants, at schools and offices — most of us will eat too much of them unless we consciously set out to do otherwise. Moreover, sugar can also increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s and cancer (especially breast cancer) said Dr. Glenville.

When eating sugar, there is a rapid and high rise in your blood sugar level (blood glucose).  Inevitably, your body responds by producing more insulin from the pancreas to deal with the high level of blood sugar.  The higher your blood sugar shoots up, the lower it crashes down soon after.

 At the drop, your body responds in two ways:

First, it will send you off for a quick sugar fix (like a bar of chocolate) as an attempt to satisfy your cravings and in order to lift your blood sugar up.

Second and simultaneously, it releases stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol from your adrenal glands and release your own sugar stores to try to correct the low level.

As a result, you end up on a perpetual roller coaster of highs and lows that affects your mood, makes you feel more anxious, tense and irritable because of the stress hormones that are being released, and can further result in weight gain, especially in the middle region of your body. 

So maybe this month, I’m sticking to paleo and keto desserts. Let’s see how long I can go sugar free for.