Sweet is safe… this is the design of the brain with sugar, it is programmed into our DNA. There are no foods in nature that are both sweet and acutely poisonous. For our ancestor's benefit, our bodies are designed to consume sweet food without satiation as berries and other fruit were only available for shorts period of time in a season. Since availability of these foods lasted only for short periods of time, the brain’s reward center signaled for more and more while the body stored whatever energy exceeded its current requirement - quite impressive. Matter of fact, the signaling in our brain is to indulge in the sweetness, drop everything to eat it when found and store that energy up to use in winter, when the food might not be as readily available. That sweetness carried immense health benefits as the micronutrient profile was extensive in these foods found in nature.
I wouldn’t be surprised to read a research paper correlating this DNA signaling for sweetness when our nervous system becomes activated, overwhelmed and goes into to fight, flight, freeze or fawn. I know I’ve reached for sweet to feel safe in my coping mechanisms over the years. If anyone has a research paper on this please share.
Awareness as to how we are designed and what occurs when the players in the game change (aka our environment) help to understand impulses that might no longer remain relevant for our goals. This understanding is key to defining what health means to one as an individual.
Living with type 1 diabetes I am intimately familiar with how my body responds to all carbohydrates, especially the sweet stuff. Since I’m in manual mode with much of my metabolic management… sweet stuff and I are like family, at times we embrace with smiles and other times we go long periods without seeing each other, always rendezvousing on Holidays. I do my best to release judgement in our relationship but we have a history to reconcile with society and the culture with sugar, the double standard. I also categorize the sweet stuff as a glucose "dose" when my blood glucose begins trending toward unsafe levels. This dose is stashed all over my life. Glove compartment, running clothes, bathroom drawer, my office, my boyfriend's car, I even stash a dose in the laundry room.. Additionally, as an athlete, when my body is adapted to using glucose as a fuel source, I choose to fuel appropriately with some sweet stuff to keep performance optimal. (Note: this isn't as necessary when I am following the ketogenic diet and my cells are adapted to using ketones as a fuel source.)
My teenage daughter has recently sprouted an interest in deepening her knowledge around nutrition. I enjoy her coming to me with questions and adore watching her eyes light up as she puts together how our bodies respond with different foods. She often expresses incongruent messaging she receives in her TikTok videos compared to what she has heard growing up in my home. I do my best to inform, not teach and not coach, this is hard at times.
Back when my two teenagers were infants I rode the “sugar is bad” train for a bit. They have not been deprived but perhaps a bit limited in the home compared to some, especially as they got into the junior high years. I attempt to parent with a holistic perspective around all health domains but the sugar thing gets tricky for me.
Sugar is bad. Sugar is toxic. These media slogans do very little to support people to live a healthy life. Especially children, who have yet to complete their neural foundation around messaging. It does however create toxic shame as they enjoy the sweetness which is in conflict to that messaging that it is bad for them. How confusing.
Some of my clients prefer not to have sugar in their fueling.
Some of my clients choose to keep it in their home and not regulate it for themselves or their family.
Some of my clients are navigating the tension around their relationship with sugar in their life and all the layers of toxic shame it carried.
What I share with my clients who desires to reduce the amount of sugar in their diet begins with compassion. To lessen the consumption of sugar in their life they will be going against their brain’s programming. Their body has become accustom to any amount of sugar and to lessen it means their physiology will require a period of time to adapt. It is somewhat like reorganizing a closet, it will get messy before it gets organized. We assess if this is the appropriate time in their life and their family’s life to get a bit messy. After compassion we seek clarity on the goal they are reaching toward.
I emphasize it is always a process and set backs are just as informative as progress, both I deem a success in my coaching method. Again, I place great emphasis on compassion.
There is no path in fueling that is wrong just as there is no path in fueling that is right. I truly believe it is individual and dynamic and changes regularly for most.
If you or anyone you prepare meals for is looking for support and guidance toward a healthy relationship with fueling, please know I am here to offer just that.
This plate of dark chocolate organic brownies will be brought to Santa Barbara Motorsports tomorrow morning as a thank you for all the questions they answered and direction they provided on my current project.
happy fueling …
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