I’m sitting at the main bus station in Apia, waiting for a bus to Nofoalii (I’m not even going to go on about the need for a bus timetable today, it’s too hot and I don’t want to grump about time). I’ve been approached by at least half a dozen mobile food peddlars, they’re all selling fizzy drinks, crisps and deep fried sugar-coated bread looking things.
I’m hot. It’s 31 degrees today and feels like 100 percent humidity (I might as well be in a sauna). I’m thirsty and a little bit hungry, but these drinks and foods that are being sold in front of me aren’t my kind of edible. Why? Because I beat the sugar addiction.
Before I begin my little rant about sugar and how it lights up the same pleasure-centres of the brain as cocaine and heroin do, and is even more addictive than both of those drugs... let me talk a little bit about marketing, the marketing of high processed/ high sugar products, yeah like the ones being sold in front of me right now.
They’re wrapped to entice you, wrapped usually in shiny plastic - like gift wrapped at Christmas. A lot of market research has gone into that packaging, the colours, the lettering, the slogans and the brand in general. The colours make you thirsty or hungry, the slogans emotive and the packaging designed to be a little challenging to open (reward success!). They’re appealing to and marketed mainly to children. Why grown adults are fooled by such simple marketing techniques is beyond me. Maybe it’s just the convenience of the junk food or maybe (and most likely) it’s your sugar addiction!
When we eat foods that contain a lot of sugar, a massive amount of dopamine is released in an area of the brain known as the Nucleus Accumbens and if we do this often enough we eventually dull the dopamine receptors, which in turn has us craving more sugar.
Giving up sugar is hard, it’s easier to give up cigarettes and heroin at the same time. That’s how addictive that bottle of Taxi is. There is no difference to your brain between the addiction to sugar and the addiction to any other addictive hardcore drug. You’re a drug addict if you have more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day, there are 16 teaspoons in a can of Shasta.
High sugar consumption is prevalent here in Samoa. Our rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, colon, breast and endometrial cancers are some of the highest in the world. Sugar is pretty evil. It messes with your gut bacteria, feeding the bad guys and killing the good.
Sugar has many names, you might find it on your packet food in disguise as sucrose, fructose, corn syrup or molases – it is empty calories, no nutrition whatsover, it makes you fat and it makes you sick. Please don’t over feed sugary products to your children, unless you don’t like them, and want them to have a whole host of health issues when they’re older. Remember they’re geared to the pleasure centre addiction of dopamine as well, excess sugar consumption makes the addiction harder to quit.
Harsh reality that last paragraph, but I do have ways and advice on how to cut back and maybe even quit sugar for good. You’ll go through mood swings, and feel fatigue for a bit, but it’s worth it – sugar causes a brain fog that you probably don’t know you’re in, quitting will give you clarity and you’ll feel awesome. Okay, let’s quit. Throw away all your sugary packet foods and breads too. Stop buying and eating it – we live in Samoa people!!! We have natural foods in abundance!
High protein, good fats and high fibre!
Eggs, avocados, fish, free range chicken (not that yucky imported high-hormoned antibiotic crap)
Good oils like coconut and olive oil, even butter is fabulous. Leafy Greens! We have an abundance here!
*ete * laupele * ofega *moringa *kang kong to name a few! Make salads!, live on salads, life is better with salads.
Foods like kimchi and sauerkraut kick cravings fast, and they boost you with good gut bacterias and make you a better person in general.
Remember my column on probiotics a couple weeks back? (I’ll be hosting workshops on Fermentation in the next coming weeks! Shoot me an email if you’re interested in learning!)
Drink it a lot, when yoau’re not drinking water - drink niu – most the time you eat you’re probably just thirsty – this is a tropical island, you need to drink a lot, quit alcohol, It’s gross and makes you stupid.
Within a week of cutting back you’ll notice your skin is more radiant and youthful, your body isn’t needing to fight off the evil of sugars and now has more time to process the good stuff you’re putting in. You’ll begin to lose weight. People who go to the gym and don’t change their eating habits are wasting their time. Your body responds 80 percent to what you eat and 20 percent to exercise. You’ll be less moody and you’ll have more energy because you’re no longer spiking your insulin levels with a Kit Kat or piece of bread (by the way bread is evil too, it’s sugar and gluten, also rice is evil too, sorry but it’s got no nutritional value either, eat breadfruit, breadfruit is boss) on that note...the bus still hasn’t arrived, I’m off in search of a niu and a taxi (not the drink, the transport).
Offers classes in yoga meditation and home fermenting food. You can contact Rachel if you’d like to organise an event or classes via email at yogasamoa@gmail,com or through Yoga Juice Samoa on facebook.