"Being addicted to sugar and flour is not an emotional eating disorder. It's a biological disorder, driven by hormones and neurotransmitters that fuel sugar and carb cravings - leading to uncontrolled overeating."
~ Mark hyman, m.d.
I first heard the phrase "no sugar, no flour" when I attended an FA (Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous) 12-step meeting as part of a school assignment in 2007. Up until that time, I would have never even considered giving up sugar and/or flour. In more recent years, each time I have participated in the Nutritional E-Cleanse Program's 23 DAYS TO A HEALTHIER YOU!, I have become more and more aware of how negatively they affect my health, how much better I feel when abstaining from them, and my addictive relationship with them when I try to re-introduce them into my diet on just an occasional basis. While I know people who can have sweets and breads in their diet (and even in their house), I have learned that I can't. Even with all I know and all I teach, I have absolutely no control when it comes to these foods - I will simply eat them until they're gone...and feel horrible afterwards, of course, but the behavior continues despite that.
Do you crave sugar and flour products, lose control, and eat more than you planned? These foods affect the exact same areas in the brain as drugs of abuse and trying to exert willpower can be just as hopeless for the food addict as it is for the alcoholic. It simply does not work. Our brain sees "sugar" as a reward. When we often eat a lot of sugar or flour, we are reinforcing that reward, causing it to be a difficult habit to break. Wikipedia defines "addiction" as a condition characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences.
"Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar and flour, are easily converted into glucose - too easily. Consuming them sends a rush of glucose into your blood stream, creating a "sugar high". Then the glucose leaves your body as quickly as it entered. You crash and are just as fatigued and hungry as you were before you ate."
~ Dr. Peter gott, no sugar, no flour diet plan
Dr. Ray Strand states that, "The first component of a healthy lifestyle is learning how to eat in such a way that you do not spike your blood sugar". Sugar and flour are refined carbohydrates that cause spikes in our blood sugar levels. And as blood sugar spikes, insulin levels rise, causing
- the body to enter the fat storing mode
- the satiety hormone leptin, that tells our brain that it's time to stop eating and get active, is blocked from doing it's job
- and causing blood sugar levels to then plummet, leaving us hungry again
...creating a cycle of insatiable hunger and overpowering glucose-induced food cravings resulting in almost no way to stick to a healthy eating plan long term.
Because foods that contain sugar and flour, such as pizza or doughnuts, for example, are very high in calories, stimulate our appetite, and cause food cravings, they have the potential to result in weight gain. That, along with their lack of nutritional value, can have a serious negative effect on our overall health and energy if we continue to choose foods containing these ingredients rather than high nutrient foods.
While all of the above is true for everyone, I know plenty of people who can eat sugar and flour "in moderation". There was a time when that was true for me as well, but at some point it changed for some reason. As much as I WANT and have continuously TRIED to be one of the those people, I fail every single time. I finally have to admit that I have a physiological addiction to these foods - even if they ARE good quality, organic ones!
"There's no way to handle a true physiological addiction except to stop it completely."
~ Mark Hyman, M.D.
According to the Food Addiction Institute, "Food addicts have to surrender our binge foods and addictive eating habits as part of our recovery." For me, that means I need to eliminate all foods that contain refined flour or refined sugar.
Why? Well, it all comes down to, "Do I want to be healthy or not?" And, yes, I want to be healthy! I want to look good and feel good. And I want to continue to be an example of living happy, healthy, and free from dis-ease for a long, long time!
There are plenty of good things I CAN eat such as REAL, nutritious, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, protein, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds . Fortunately, I have a LOT of experience eating this way from doing the Nutritional E-Cleanse Program seasonally for the past 6 1/2 years. And since I'm currently abstaining on the most recent program, I'm already there - I just have to refrain from taking that first bite!!!
Happy, Healthy Living!
JoAnn Newton is a Holistic Nutrition Educator and Master Massage Therapist with a private practice in Graton, CA.
Passionate about helping people transform their health through holistic nutrition, she facilitates the 23 day online Nutritional E-Cleanse Program seasonally with coaching, compassion, and humor.