AS EVERYBODY is on a mission to get their bodies ready for summer and get rid of the winter flab, some are hearing the call of chocolates, sweets and other junk food a little louder and finding it harder to resist.
This does not mean that you are weak-willed, lazy or suffer from bad habits, the author of Sugar Free, the first self-help book written in South Africa to help people overcome sugar and carbohydrate addiction, Karen Thompson, said yesterday. Thompson will be speaking next week in Port Elizabeth at the first Future of Health Summit, sponsored by Old Mutual.
The summit is being organised by Dr Margo de Koker, a medical doctor, in conjunction with Old Mutual. Thompson co-authored the book with Kerry Hammerton and with the support of dietician Tamzyn Campbell.
Sugar Free advocates a low carb high fat approach to eating. Karen is also the programme director of Help, a programme that helps sugar and carbohydrate addicts. Thompson said this week that people should recognise sugar addiction as a disease of the brain.
“The repeated exposure to refined sugar and junk food can physically alter the neural structure, the chemistry of the brain, causing an addiction.
“Sugar addiction involves the compulsive pursuit of a mood change by engaging repeatedly in episodes of binge eating despite the adverse consequences,” Thompson said.
“A sugar addict is an individual who continues to use sugar compulsively without regard for the negative consequences.
“Compulsion is always present in the disease of addiction.
Thompson said the South African National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey compiled by the Human Sciences Research Council, conducted surveys and interviews with more than 25 000 people across 500 different areas in South Africa.
“The findings showed 19.7% of South Africans are consuming an excessive amount of sugar. Almost 21% reported a family history of high blood sugar as well,” she said. She said that, for some people, even a small amount of sugar can trigger an addiction response.
“I really think it depends on whether their brains have been “hijacked’ by the over consumption of sugary and junk foods.
“Once the thin line between use and abuse has been crossed a person will become a lot more sensitive to sugar consumption.
“There is a saying with regards to addiction: ‘One is too many and a thousand never enough.’” She said that while a supplement like Glutamine definitely works to curb sugar cravings in some people, she did not recommend it.
“We have to focus on real food,” she said.
The Future of Health Summit will be held at the Feathermarket Hall on Thursday October 22.
Other speakers at the summit are Professor Tim Noakes, world-renowned obesity expert Dr Eric Westman, who will be discussing what works for weight loss and why, Dr Philip Mills, who will talk about preventing heart disease, and Old Mutual chief medical officer Dr Peter Bond.
(Source: The Herald)