The trend of ‘quitting sugar’ is very popular right now. It’s an 8 week diet program where you do not eat any sugar (or fructose, to be precise). After that, you can’t eat any sugar, but you can eat fruit. The diet treats sugar as an addictive, evil substance, to be avoided at all costs, somewhat like nicotine, or even heroin.
The problem is, sugar isn’t an addictive drug. It’s delicious, sure, and too much of it isn’t good for your health, but it doesn’t need to be absolutely removed from your diet in order for you to be healthy. This all-or-nothing approach is unnecessarily restrictive.
Such a restrictive diet is very difficult to follow – it doesn’t allow for any slip-ups, and because sugar is seen as evil, eating it seems like the end of the world. Not participating in the delicious parts of life, such as your favourite dessert, or your best friend’s birthday cake is very difficult.
For many people, controlling their diet is a way of managing out of control feelings that they have in life. They channel all their negative emotions into how they feel about their diet – what they eat becomes a representation of their life, and through controlling their food, they feel they are controlling their life.
Unfortunately, this means that when a very restrictive diet, such as quitting sugar, ‘fails’ – ie, sugar is eaten – those people feel like that because they’ve lost control over their diet, they’ve lost control over their life. As a way to deal with the stress of life, it feels like it works: until it doesn’t, and then they are overcome with feelings of guilt, failure, and anxiety.
The best way to eat healthy is to eat from all the food groups in moderation. So enjoy treats, because food isn’t just about nutrition: it’s also about deliciousness, socialising and celebrating.