Choose your poison

Life can be bitter or sweet - especially if we learn to control the tempting poisons that are part of our everyday life.

Some may consider them rewards; others, a must during "cheat days." Whatever the labels you give them, these little habits could be our poison or our medicine.

Sweet somethings

Because sugar is more than just a sweet delight for the palate and the senses, when taken excessively, it could lead to health complications. Sugar has been linked to diabetes, fatigue, obesity, kidney problems, heart disease, dementia and tooth decay. So what is the minimum sugar tolerance of the body?

It is widely believed that the human body doesn't need too much sugar except in its natural form, as fructose or simple sugars. According to Wikipedia, the average person consumes 24 kg of sugar a year. Now if you break that down, that's 260 calories per person per day. Think about it: If you are female, your recommended average calories intake should be around 1,500. This means that almost 20 per cent of your regular intake is sugar. Carbohydrates fall under the category of sugar.

Know that most carbohydrates turn to glucose during digestion.

Sugar trivia: Even if you are a vegetarian, you must know that sugar cane, sugar beet and carrots are sweet and considered sucrose. Likewise, milk in the form of lactase is a naturally occurring sugar.

According to a Swedish study by Lund University, sugar has been associated with an increase in LDL or bad cholesterol. So, if you have a sweet tooth, try not to nurture it daily. Instead, increase your consumption of vegetables and fiber.

Here's the trick: having sugar cravings? Understandable. Sugar can give you an instant high. But it also gives you a drastic low. This seesaw effect isn't good for your pancreas, which has to release insulin to regulate high blood-sugar levels.

To quell your hunger for sweets, take protein or vegetables before consuming that chocolate cake or bowl of ice cream. This should effectively manage your sugar levels.

Warning: The immune system is clearly depressed by high sugar consumption. So, if you want to keep your immunity strong, consume sugar in moderation.

The high that is a low

The high that is a low

Dependence happens slowly. Substances that alter the mood while numbing the senses are considered drugs.

Why do people become drug-dependent? Because drugs make them feel good. But this is only temporary.

Joan Mathews Larson, PhD, author of Seven Weeks to Sobriety, explains that drugs fill a certain need in a person's life.

While the relief is short-lived, continuous use of drugs over time-whether heroin, sedatives or alcohol-will interfere with the body's natural ability to produce endorphins, the "feel-good" hormones. And when this happens, the cycle of craving for a drug leads to dependency. Gary Zukav and Linda Francis share this bit of wisdom in The Heart of the Soul.

Alcoholism and drug addiction are symptoms. The cause: a deeper problem that must be resolved if the symptoms are to be removed for good.

More often than not, it is intense emotional pain. Do you know that the difference between addiction, frequent use and less frequent use is just a matter of one degree? They're the same culprits that are the cause-fears of inadequacy, failure, insecurity, rejection, stress.

Emotional pain is connected to the core problem: a disconnection with the soul. There are parts of a person that need healing, requiring an inward journey. This journey is a brave one for those who wish to conquer their weaknesses. It involves an exploration of the self and an examination of every experience of humiliation and hurt.

When you are in emotional pain, your soul is aching. There is a call from within you. Alcohol and drugs are ways of avoiding and ignoring the calls, whether it's for one day or a lifetime. But the drugs and alcohol will not stop the calls from coming through.

They will only stop when you heed them and eventually heal your hurts. Because in the end, only you can heal yourself. The answer is in your hands.

Bingeing beyond belief

Bingeing beyond belief

Even if you surround yourself with food, you will still be hungry. Why can eating become a problem? Because many people tend to eat emotionally, whether they are aware of it or not.

To those who are food bingeing right now, stop and listen. It is not the gratification you got from food that you actually need-it's your acceptance of yourself. Beyond the chocolate bars, chips and pastas, there is you, seeking self-validation. And you will not find it in food. Find the root of your obsession and obsessive eating.

Maybe your love life is in chaos, or you feel overburdened with work or abused by your friends or family. Feeling betrayed and neglected, your turn to comfort foods instead of seeking comfort from those who truly care.

Food bingeing is an addiction. It is also a form of denial. Look for the reason behind the food craving each time you see food.

List down your reasons for eating. For example:

I deserve to eat because I am…

I don't care how I look, I'm hungry.

I am angry; that's why food is my reward.

Every time you are in need of food, ask yourself: "Do I really need to eat this?" Once awareness has set in, then your road to recovery has begun.

The banquet that never ends is the one that elevates your celebration of life to a new awareness of who you truly are.

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