Sugar facts that aren’t so sweet.

So here’s my list of reasons why I’ve waged war on sugar for the month.

– We now eat more sugar in 2 weeks that we ate in a year 200 years ago. Our increased consumption of sugar correlates directly to the increase in diabetes in cultures where sugar is introduced to the diet.

– It’s addictive! Don’t believe me? How are these apples…. A French scientist had 43 Heroine addicted lab rats that he fed sugar water to over a period of time. When given the choice of whether to have sugar water or heroine, 40 mice chose the sugar water. IT’S LITERALLY MORE ADICTIVE THAN HEROINE!

– Our metabolism & digestive system hasn’t change in 130,000 years and yet our diet has dramatically changed. Our bodies are not evolved to withstand the modern diet that is so sugar rich.

– STORY TIME: When we were kids we were only ever allowed to drink water (which I thank my mother for now!), of course in our minds mum was being completely unreasonable, our friends were allowed soft drink! At the time my little brother lost his last baby tooth we were at an age where we were too cool for the tooth fairy. Mum came up with a little experiment for this tooth. She put his tooth in a glass of coke and said in the morning we will strain it and you can see what the tooth looks like. The next morning we strained the tooth… there was no tooth, it had completely disintegrated. Sugar literally rots your teeth! YOU PUT THAT SAME SHIT IN YOUR BODY!

– Sugar is a dirty filthy little liar! My values and morals don’t align with anything remotely dishonest. I get very cranky to see sugar in things that should be healthy and nutritious such as oats, muslie bars, nuts, “diet” foods. It’s so wrong for food companies to pry on the naivety of the consumers and position their foods in a healthy light when in fact they are slowly killing people. Slowly killing people through misconception and misinformed propaganda – that’s legal??

– Researchers believe that sugar contributes towards more deaths than tobacco.

– Sugar is seen as a major cause of diseases such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, liver disease obesity and the list goes on and on and on.

– Our recommended daily intake is 4 teaspoons for children, 6 teaspoons for women and 9 for men. Currently the average adult consumes 22 teaspoons and 34 teaspoons for children. That’s an issue!

– Sugar hides, EVERYWHERE! Added sugar is in more than 75% of the products in our supermarkets and goes by 200 different names! How the “F” are consumers meant to even recognise it? Sugar is sooooo sneaky!

– The reason why we don’t know any of this… at least 96 health organisations have been sponsored by big soda companies between 2011-2015. Health organisations aren’t going to be silly enough to bite a hand that feeds them.

The list goes on and on.

If you find an hour in your life to watch some Netflix watch “Fed Up”. I’m not ashamed to say that I sobbed part the way through it due to the aweful things that have gone on in our society to allow sugar to do what it has done to people.

Sugar contributes to depression, mood swings, disease, premature aging and so many other terrible things. We may feel a rush when we first intake sugar but long term misery is the only thing we have to look forward to. If you think about it, the same could be said about illicit drugs, so my question is sugar any better?

Introducing Basil & Courtney, our resident habit makers.

FullSizeRenderLet’s take a ride back in time to 2006, a time when I was a studious 16 year old…

…well in all subjects that weren’t science. I’d sit up the back, give the nod to a friend 4 seats away who’d start the clock, 30 seconds later, “HAYLEY…!” the clock would stop. New record! Great game! The game of how quickly can we tick our science teacher off, whom we will warmly refer to as Mr. H.

My classes would consist of counting how many time Mr. H. would say “ummm”. To be fair, if any of my fellow class mates would admit it, we all did.

If Mr. H. knew I was about to write a post for everyone to see about neuroscience he’d probably high five me…. across the face…. with a blackboard duster… attached to a hammer.

Lovely chap now that I think back from an adults point of view, recognising of course that teachers are people too. So Mr. H. this one is for you and may I offer my sincere apologies.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to two friends of mine that I think you should all get to know, The Basal Gangli and The Prefrontal Cortex. Given we are all friends here you can call our first friend Basil and the second Courtney.

Basil lives in the back of our brains, his job is to make our job as humans easy. When we repeatedly do something Basil says, “right you are sir, allow me to make that habitual”. Good Fellow Basil, if it wasn’t for him the simplest things such as brushing our teeth of a morning would be an onerous task.

Basil does soooooo much for us, for the purpose of this however there are three things about Basil that you should know.

Firstly, Basil LOVES comfort, I like to think of him as an old man stuck in his ways. That means that when we do something out of our comfort zone such as exercise, start our day at 6am and even think differently, Basil speaks up, “listen here Sonny, now that’s not safe, we don’t do that, it’s not easy. let me keep you safe. Sit back down on the lounge dear, here gorge yourself on this cake.” He’s the keeper of our habits and boy does he love keeping them!

The second thing you need to know about Basil is that he doesn’t actually know what’s good and bad for us. If you’ve done something over and over again he figures you’ve got your shit together enough to know right from wrong and he just makes it easy for you. I for one have Basil welllllllllll deceived.

Lastly, Basil works off triggers. It’s morning, let’s brush our teeth. We’ve finished dinner, let’s wash up. We are home from work, let’s sit on the lounge. I’m bored, let’s get on social media.

Now for our other new friend Courtney. Spritely Lass our Courtney. Courtney is responsible for our personalities and behaviours, she is our thoughts and she creates our reactions to our surroundings. Courtney is the chickie babe who DOES know right from wrong.

Courtney & Basil chat regularly. Courtney uses information from Basil to make our decisions, like wise when Courtney is doing her thing Basil takes note and creates what we know as a Neural pathway which, in short, creates our habits.

There are three components to habits the trigger, the reward, the routine. Let’s apply this to my months quest, quitting sugar. 3:30pm hits (the trigger), Basil takes me to the cookie jar (the reward) and do that everyday (routine). This is a habit, Basil likes this…

…But Basil needs to take a back seat while I shake things up.

Now understand, I haven’t got rid of the trigger, the reward or the routine, I’ve simply replaced something, that something being the reward – Courtney has helped me actively choose this everyday. I still get up at 3:30pm, I still walk to the kitchen but I make a cup of tea. Basil Knows something’s up, something’s different, it doesn’t feel quite right. He goes with the flow however because it’s sort of kind of what he’s used to so there isn’t much kick back. If I had of just dropped my 3:30pm routine all together Basil would have caused chaos.

It has become more and more comfortable making a cup of tea and ignoring the cookie jar because Courtney’s been talking to Basil, she’s been walking in a new Neural Pathway and everyday the pathway becomes more warn into my brain. Eventually the old cookie pathway will weaken and “over grow” and the new path will be the norm.

Now this takes between 30-60 days, thus why I’m making or breaking a different habit every 30 days.

So here are the lessons I want you to take from meeting these friends of mine;

  • Breaking or making habits is not easy!  We are not made to conquer the world, we are made to survive, to survive all these years it’s how we have had to be made. To hunt, gather and stay alive. Now-a-days however it’s all to easy to do this and we no longer have a need to survive but to thrive – We have evolved faster than our brains have and they haven’t caught onto the new trend of being freaking AWESOME!
  • You need to nurture Basil, after all he does just want what’s best. When you are giving something up that he loves, give him something new. When you’re feeling frustrated at having to do something, know it’s just Basil doing what he thinks is best for you, sit with him, reassure him and love your new decisions so that he becomes comfortable with them.
  • Give it time, there needs to be time to make and break habits. Don’t give up!
  • Know what you have to change and when you’ll have to change it. Plan replacements for your bad habits.
  • Habits work by filing in three components, play with those components change one up to wear a new path. Get home from work (trigger), put your joggers on feel accomplished for just doing that instead of sitting on the lounge (reward) do it everyday (routine)! Hopefully you’d go for a run as an off spin of the accomplished feeling of putting your shoes on. If not fine, that’s just a shitty day, I can guarantee you you’ll be 10 times more likely to go for a run if you come home and habitually put your joggers on though. There are so many ways you can play with this and REMEMBER, you won’t get the change up right the first time everytime… dare I say it, PERSIST!

Now let me give you something to put all this in perspective. Presuming you live to say 85, that means you have 31,025 days in your life, 60 days is 0.9339242% of your life. Isn’t it worth taking that minute percentage of your days to steer your life in a better direction and make the remaining 99.0660758% of your life FREAKING AMAZING?

Sugars dirty hide and seek tactics

So, I stuffed up. Day two I stuffed up.

Now don’t get me wrong when I say I stuffed up, I promise I didn’t sit in a corner rocking back and forth smearing sweet treats over my naked, sugar crazed body.

I just happened to loose the dirty little hide and seek game that sugar plays!

I had 497km to drive, 4 clients to see and I was doing it on very little sleep – That’s a story for another day.

Determined to stick to my guns and show that “sweet-son-of -a-white-bitch” who’s boss, I walked into the service station on a hunt for something that wouldn’t have sugar in it. I was running behind on time so I grabbed a little 43g packet of fruit and nuts, paid for my fuel and ran out the door.

I opened the packet on my next 1 1/2 hour trip, took my first “nut” and popped it in my mouth concentrating on the road. What the! Nope, not a nut, white chocolate bite!

I won’t lie, it was delicious!

SHIT!! I picked the white chocolate out, throwing the pieces out the window because I would have eaten them otherwise and continued to chow down on the nuts.

Proud of my self for being the boss and tossing the choc, I checked the packet out. The whole thing was full of sugar!

For those punters at home who don’t know how nutritional information works, allow me to teach you a few things.

  1. Hide & seek tactic # 1 – The ingredients on a packet are listed from the largest quantity to the least. Out of the 10 ingredients in my nut packet sugar was 3rd.
  2. Hide & seek tactic # 2 – Serving size is usually not what you eat. This packet has serving size of 30g… The whole packet is 45g! Excuse me while I don’t eat an almond and a pistachio to coincide with you “serving size” pfft! Seriously? Food companies can put anything they like there.
  3. Hide & seek tactic # 3 – I look at the sugar content per 100g = 40.4g. So I do my math… 40.4g of sugar per 100g = 0.40g of sugar per gram. Times 0.40g by the 45g in the packet = 18g of sugar.
  4. Hide & seek tactic # 4 – 4g sugar = one teaspoon. That means there is 4.5 teaspoons of sugar in that one “healthy snack”!

So there you go, moral of the story, sugar doesn’t play nice in the sand pit! Not cool fruit & nut mix not cool!


My demon first, Sugar.

imageFrom the beginning of this hair brained idea I knew one of the habits I needed to break was sugar.

– The habit of searching the cupboards after every meal, settling for licking the rim of a honey jar when your more responsible self went shopping and didn’t buy the truck load of chocolate you normally justify bringing home.

– The habit of becoming a zombie who walks from her office to the cookie jar several times a day.

– The habit of eating like a saint, exercising like a fitness fanatic and ruining it all with 10 scoops of milo and a sneaky spoon of sugar on top. “I deserve it, I exercised and ate cabbage today, besides how can you milo and not sugar?” I say to the angel on my left shoulder as she scours me for giving into her cheeky devilled counter part on my right shoulder.

Yep this is me…

There is a rumour I’ve heard from my family that as a child I once turned down a chocolate biscuit for a banana. Now I’m not sure who that Hayley is, but I don’t know her.

So here’s my challenge this month, I’m to eat only the recommended daily intake of sugar for a female for the next month starting Wednesday 10th May. What is the recommended daily intake you ask? 6 teaspoons! Sounds heaps right? Wrong! A banana is the equivalent of 3 teaspoons! A bloody banana! Those yellow healthy things your mother shoved in your face as an answer to “I’mmmmmmm Hunnnngrrrrrry!”

This is my biggest demon, this is the habit I’m scared of breaking – “I could leave it until the end, perhaps never do it, yep that’s what I’ll do, never do it. Actually bugger this make it and break it mission, I just won’t do it at all! I don’t need to break any habits, I’m already the best version of myself, my life’s perfect…. right?” – cue awkward chirping crickets.

On the contrary, there’s a part of me I like to refer to as Bad Ass Hayley and Bad Ass Hayley wants to show that son-of-a-sweet-white-bitch who’s boss and lead by example. So head first into my fear I go, laters Sugar! – cue raising of ones middle finger.