Why in the world would you need another blog post to tell you that (processed) sugar isn’t good for you?
That’s a good point. I mean, you’ve probably known it for most of your life, right?
When you was a kid, your parents (hopefully) told you that eating too much candy would make “holes in your teeth”.
And later, perhaps as a teenager or young adult, you started to notice that eating too much cookies makes you fat.
If you happen to be very interested in how your body works, you may even be aware about many other issues with overconsumption of it (candida or other parasites, disruption of your gut microbiome, blood sugar issues, etc.)
But let’s be honest. For some reason, knowing all that stuff doesn’t really stop you from eating sugar, does it?
All it does is make you feel more guilty about it when you do eat sugar.
Does that sound like you? I’ll mention why you may feel like this later 😉
Now here’s another scenario:
Maybe you don’t feel bad about eating lots of sugar at all. Maybe you’re the kind of person than can eat whatever you want and look sexy as fuck any way.
I can totally relate to that 😉
I have an active lifestyle and my body metabolizes sugar easily. So if I want, I can eat an entire bag of candy or drink soda a couple of times a week. I wouldn’t gain a lot of weight.
Now, if “screwing up your body” isn’t that much of a problem for a lot of people including me, then why am I writing a blog post telling you to stop eating it?
Because most of all, processed sugar fucks with your brain.
And it does so in many ways. But here are the 2 most important ones in my opinion:
1. It Trains You to Expect Immediate Gratification
This may not sound like a big deal, but it has more of an impact than you'd think.
When you eat sugar foods, drink sugary drinks. Or when like your coffee a little too much like your women, it gives you an immediate sense of satisfaction:
You just put that shit in your mouth. And if the flavor alone didn’t make you cum in your pants already, then all you have to do is wait 5 minutes and you feel perfectly fine about everything. (What breakup? All I can think of right now is this delicious ice cream. NOMNOMNOM.)
I’m not gonna deny that it can make you feel pretty good.
But the problem is that after a while, eating sugar teaches your brain to expect that every effort you make should pay off that quickly and easily.
Simply put, you are reinforcing the following pattern over and over again:
1-5 minutes of effort (one minute if all you have to do is grab the food, five if you have to buy it first)
==> Instant good feels.
And when you do it enough, it becomes ingrained in your map of reality. So now you subconsciously start to expect life to work that way.
Now what’s the problem with this?
That the world you live in works exactly in the opposite way.
If you want something that gives you lasting fulfillment, it usually requires you to sacrifice short-term pleasure in favor of long-term happiness.
• If you want to enjoy financial wealth later, you need work harder now, stop buying stuff that you don’t need, and save up as much of your money as you can. This always requires that you sacrifice something you love. Whether is skipping a party to work instead, or not buying any clothes for a year so you can put all the money in a savings account.
• If you want to stop feeling bad, it usually requires you to face your own demons and insecurities. And this always starts with a lot of unresolved pain being brought to the surface. The happiness comes later.
• If you want a fulfilling relationship or friendship you both have to work for it. Which often includes having conversations with each other that are very uncomfortable to have, to increase intimacy in the long run.
When you regularly consume sugar, your brain will expect things to go the opposite of that and get annoyed by it. Now, whenever you’re faced with setbacks and obstacles, they will impact your mood and bring you down (instead of letting you remain calm and rational).
Which is kind of a problem. Because obstacles and setbacks are so common in life that they appear every week. Why sentence yourself to feeling bad about it every time they do?
But there’s another aspect to this that makes it even worse:
Because you are now used to satisfaction coming easily, your willpower muscles (metaphorically speaking, they don't physically exist 😉 ) get weaker all the time.
Sit tight and lemme ’splain:
Let’s say you go to the gym and you do a certain exercise with a 5 pound dumbbell all the time.
The one day, you try to use a 20 pound dumbbell instead. What happens?
You can’t even lift it off the floor. Because your muscles aren’t used to working that hard.
Well, it’s the same thing with your willpower in the face of struggle.
If you are used to the fact that all you have to do to feel satisfied is stuff something in your mouth, then how do you think you’ll be able to handle it when a situation requires you to put in lots of work for it? (E.g. Dealing with the loss of a loved one, or getting out of debt)
You won’t. The “willpower” muscles are only used to lifting very small loads. So even though you desperately want to start fixing things, you’ll feel like you don’t have the energy to start.
2. Mood Swings, Energy Levels, Depression
Another major problem with regular sugar consumption is that it disrupts your emotional stability in different ways:
Sugar stimulates the release of serotonin, which makes you feel good. Over time depletion of your limited serotonin supply can lead to depression. You can easily test this out for yourself if you want (in fact, I actually tested it out a few times, the results were horrible):
Day 1: Binge on sugar all day. Eat anything you want. Make marshmellow-soup with candy apple croutons, put ketchup on everything and have a glass of whipped cream for dessert (best served on cold... on your spouse).
Day 2: Eat no sugar at all. Eat a healthy diet that would normally give you energy and make you feel good. Notice how you feel instead 😉
But there’s also the problem of short-term mood swings:
The “feel good” moment that accompanies a blood sugar spike is usually followed by a noticeable crash. This causes you to be irritable or cranky without it (like the famous snickers commercial).
All you need to do to observe this is look at parents who stuff their kid full of candy to make them shut up. Only to have the kid get more annoying every day, requiring more candy over time to prevent it from throwing temper tantrums.
After a while, you generally feel worse when your blood sugar is lower. Making you cranky and impatient, or just a little sad for no reason.
This is easily the start of an addiction that most people don’t realize they have. Why? Because processed sugar is in almost everything they sell in the supermarket. You can live a life without candy or cake and still eat lots of sugar every day. Your body will crave it, and you'll give in to the cravings without even realizing you're doing it.
But it's actually very easy to test out whether you're addicted to sugar or not:
When you consume sugar and feel bad or guilty about doing so, what does that tell you?
It tells you that you know you shouldn’t do it. But you can’t help it.
It tells you that even though you want to be faithful, you can't keep your hands out the cookie jar.
Now I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like people who try to quit smoking 😉
(You can read more about how addictions work in this post.)
The Difference Between “Just A Little” Sugar Every Day and No Sugar at All.
I quit eating sugar between 1 and 2 years ago as an experiment. And I feel like it’s one of the best things I’ve done for my mental stability, growth as a person and overall performance.
These days the only sugar my body gets is from blueberries. And from stealing the occasional piece of candy out of someone’s hands (the stealing part is half of the fun). Other than that I don’t eat any products that contain it anymore. And the difference is night and day.
It’s one thing to say “I can afford this donut, because I went to the gym today”, but the extra belly fat is not what you need to be worried about.
When you stop eating sugar for long enough, it’s like you become a different person on many levels. Especially on how it feels for you on the inside. You'll look back at how you used to react to things in your life, be shocked at the difference and recognize the “symptoms” of high sugar consumption in other people as well.
I don’t have many friends who eat sugar on a daily basis. But when I meet someone who does, I can almost always tell it right away:
They get annoyed by their boyfriends/girlfriends and pick fights instead of fixing the problem (wonder what will come of that). They look at their smart phone every 5 minutes. They buy things they don’t need and feel bad about it later.
And most of all when things get tough, they usually say “Why is this bullshit happening to me?” instead of “What small step can I take today to fix it?” (been there, done that 😉 )
It's easy to get defensive when you read this and your brain is still on sugar. But this is not an accusation. Just because you eat sugar every day does not mean those who don't should think any less of you. But just know that you could be happier without those things.
And I also know I'm making generalizations with these "symptoms". But try it out for yourself. When you meet someone who constantly act in the way I described (or you recognize it in yourself), ask them if they ever go a day without consuming processed sugars. You’ll be surprised how much of a correlation there is.
Sothis post is not about pointing fingers. Part of what sugar does to your brain is making it harder to not eat sugar. So no reason to feel guilty about it if you still do.
But think about these words as a message of empowerment:
Less sugar = more emotional stability.
Less sugar = more willpower to get things the done that make your life better.
Less cranky and impatient without sugar = Less stress in your relationships.
Who wouldn’t want those things in their life?
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