What Sugar Does to Your Brain

CAUTION: Only read this blog post if you are truly ready to end your relationship with sugar. Once you know this, you can’t go back.

Have you ever been in one of those mid-day slumps where you can’t seem to think straight?

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And in a daze you reach for the sugar-laden latte or a donut?

Well, what if I told you that the way your brain experiences those stimulants lights up the exact same areas as cocaine? Crazy, right?!

New research is coming out every day on just how bad sugar is for the brain. It’s as bad for your brain as being in an extremely stressful or abusive situation 24/7.

Sugar addiction can actually impair the function of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and coping with stress.

But there’s hope!

When you go off sugar your brain starts to repair itself. The brain fog you deal with everyday disappears and you feel clear and focused like never before. When sugar is your primary fuel source, not only is it damaging you on a physiological level but it’s also impairing your higher mental function.

Using sugar or refined carbohydrates as a pick-me-up creates a vicious cycle ... the effects of the sugar wear off quickly and the low energy returns with a vengeance. When you cut sugar out of your diet you transform this cycle and create stable, sustainable energy that allows you to actually focus and feel mentally clear. Just one of the many benefits of eliminating sugar from your life.

BUT—yes, there’s always a but—breaking up with sugar isn’t necessarily easy.

The first couple of days after you quit sugar, you’ll be high on pride. You’ll be pumped about this new endeavor and that excitement will be enough to get you though.

But around day 3 or 4, the excitement wears off, and the reality sets in.

When you eat sugar it gives you immediate gratification, which makes you happy. When you first start to detox from it, you don’t have access to this instant shot of dopamine, and much like a drug addict, it puts you in a desperate and terrible mood. And also much like a drug addict, the effect is just a physiological as it is psychological.

This physiological and psychological battle going on, is going to temporarily outweigh the benefits of quitting sugar. You probably won’t notice that you’re thinking with newfound clarity focus, because the only thing you’ll be thinking about is a cupcake.

Which is why, if you’re committed to really getting the positive, healthy effects of breaking up with sugar, you’re going to need a plan for this little rough patch I like to call the withdrawal period.

Here’s how I got through my own withdrawal period, and how I encourage my clients to get through theirs.

I got educated

The first step is knowing. Understanding the negative impact sugar had on so many aspects of my life–my mood, my sleep, bloating, brain fog, skin irritations, joint pain, PMS—was a powerful motivator to eliminate it.

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I got in community

In a culture that is super addicted to sugar, adhering to an all natural and all sugar free diet can be very isolating. I did my detox with a group of other people who were also choosing to prioritize their health by making this change. Instead of being surrounded by sugar addicts, I was surrounded by people who understood exactly what I was doing, why I was doing it and what a challenge it was for me.

I eased myself into it

With anything - it’s hard to go cold turkey. I eased my way into it by first cutting obvious sugars and as time went by, eliminating the sneakier sugars that most people aren’t even aware are sugar.

I took good care of myself

On Day 3 of my sugar detox, I was crabbier and more exhausted than I had been in a long time. It would have been the perfect excuse to give up. But, because I was educated and in community, I was prepared to give myself grace by stepping away from my to-do list in favor of a warm bath and some extra sleep.

Ready to breakup with sugar? We've got a group forming now and we start together on April 16th. Check out the details here.