Humans have primal impulses to seek out foods that are sweet because they were harder to find in Nature. Really, what were the choices? Berries, honey & sugar cane. When we found those sources of pure energy, our brains rewarded us with dopamine, the pleasure chemical, so that we’d do that sugar thing again.
Fast-forward to today when we have Ho-Hos and Skittles and Twizzlers and tubs of icing and bags of actual straight-up sugar right around the corner in a store that’s open 24/7… but despite that, we STILL have the primal urge to seek it!
Let’s get philosophical for a moment. Food is not just about nourishing the body. It nourishes the soul, creates bonds and externalizes celebration. Sweetness is also a metaphor & symbolizes the “sweetness of life”. Sometimes it’s hard to find sweetness inside, so bringing it in from the outside is a close, though fleeting, second.
Many people who contemplate reducing their sugar intake (similar to perusing the gluten-free aisles) have an emotional response that screams “NO! Don’t take my sweetness away!” But, that despair is not real. It is a distraction created by your brain because it thinks you really can’t survive without sugar. Your poor, deluded, beautiful amazing, behind-the-times brain.
When you do decide to give a low-sugar diet a try, pat your brain gently and say to it, “Sweetie, just trust me for a little while and you’ll feel better than you’ve ever thought you could.” It probably won’t listen to you.
Then, try this: read to it. Specifically, read your brain this well-written, “fact-ion”-packed book by Margaret Wertheim, MS RD: Breaking the Sugar Habit: Practical Ways to Cut the Sugar, Lose the Weight, and Regain Your Health. She’ll tell your brain directly and politely why lots of sugar isn’t helping your brain (or any other part of your body) + how to reduce the sugar in your life while retaining some safe sweetness.