The following information is not meant to diagnose, treat, or even suggest a medical condition. Always talk to your doctor about your health and any questions/concerns you have about your health and diet. The statements made in this post are strictly what I learned in anorexia recovery from specialists who worked hard to keep my alive after I starved myself to near death, and what I have subsequently experienced on my road to personal health. If the information doesn’t resonate with you, that’s okay. If it helps you, great. Enjoy!
The human body runs on sugar. Sugar is an energy source, the main and most preferable energy source, that our bodies use for every bodily function from thinking and moving to digestion and hormone production. If the human body doesn’t have sugar, it doesn’t survive.
When I was in the thick of my disease, I strove to be sugar free, and what little sugar I did eat, I immediately “burned off” with exercise. I believed the lies that sugar was evil, and that I would be fat, unhealthy, and sick if I ate any.
Here are some general cultural beliefs about sugar and the biological truths from the body’s perspective that negate those beliefs.
Culture: The sugar crash is bad and you are bad for having eaten the sugar that is now making you crash.
Body: Because sugar is the body’s main energy source, that’s the first thing it burns to do anything. So the “sugar crash” is simply your body out of gas. What happens when you’re car is out of gas? It lurches, shakes and comes to a halt. What happens when your body is out of sugar–out of energy? You get the shakes, maybe a little lightheaded and you stop.
If you’re crashing it’s because your body needs more nutrients, especially sugar, to keep running. Crashing is a natural biological reaction to running out out energy and not a bad reaction to sugar. The sugar is not at fault. To keep your body running longer and to avoid crashing, eat sugar with a little protein and fat. These three energy sources work together to give you energy and sustain it through whatever activity you’re demanding of your body.
Culture: Sugar/carbs makes you fat.
Body: Carbs don’t make you fat. Carbohydrate is a fancy word for sugar. I repeat. Sugar is an energy source, so it’s getting used all the time. If you are alive, your body is burning energy. You are using energy right now reading this sentence.
If you eat more sugar than your body needs, three things will happen. The body will:
1) excrete what it doesn’t need.
2) store some as fat.
3) tell you that it’s had enough.
Don’t let number two scare you. Our bodies need fat for a plethora of body functions, including nutrient absorption. You can eat green and “healthy” all you want, but if you don’t have fat stores, your body isn’t absorbing those nutrients. Secondly, the body won’t store more fat than it needs. Once the body has had enough of any nutrient, it will tell you. It is imperative that you listen to what your body is asking for. Pay attention to those cravings and pay close attention to what doesn’t sound good. Oblige your body and respect it when it’s says, “I’m done” or “I need more.”
My body asks for potato chips. A lot. Culture says to eat carrots instead because those are healthier. Carrots have fiber, water, and vitamin A. When my body is craving potato chips, it’s asking for complex sugar (sugar with oomph) and salt. Carrots don’t fit the bill and that’s why they don’t sound good nor do they satisfy me in a potato chip moment. I usually pair my potato chips with a protein–typically sardines because I love sardines. Why? Because it sounds good! And because I know my body will run a little longer and better with the added nutrients.
Culture: Natural sugars are healthier than processed sugars.
Body: Sugar is sugar to the body. It reads it all as energy and uses it all as energy. I want to shy away from muddling up your brain with a lesson in glucose, fructose, and sucrose because the chemistry and biology gets complicated. The bottom line is the body needs a variety of all three. You won’t function well if you’re only eating fruit and honey. Likewise your body won’t function well if you’re only feeding it candy and cake.
Several weeks ago, I got a bunch of apples from a friend of mine. I went crazy in the kitchen, and for a week we ate apple pie, apple crisp and apple sauce. One day, none of that sounded good. For about five days my body wanted nothing to do with anything sweet. Not even honey turkey on my sandwich. My body had had enough sugar (fruit sugar and table sugar) and I listened. I wasn’t bad for eating all that sugar. I wasn’t unhealthy for eating all those treats. The sugar wasn’t evil for turning off my sweet tooth. I ate and I enjoyed; my body was happy and kindly told me when it had plenty to work with for a while. Simple as that.
The human body is designed to run on a combination of all nutrients. Sugar is a necessary nutrient; sugar is not bad for you. What’s even cooler is the body comes with a built in communication system that tells you which foods it needs more of and which it needs less of so you don’t have to control, restrict or omit sugar. If you’ve had too much, which is what everyone worries about, your body will cue you in. The trick is to be in tune with your body and listen to what it’s telling you. That’s true health.
Enjoy your food today and eat what sounds good! <3