Jamie, my teenage friend, you are a great son who is worried about his Dad. I shared in my last blog how sugar works and has drawn your Dad into an addiction. Next comes the action
Burning off sugars
Your Dad is not burning off his food calories (measure of energy in food) at the rate he used to when he was young. And he was probably young when he started getting hooked on sugar.
If your Dad eats a whole pizza..about 1800 calories– he will need to walk for 5 and a half hours to burn it off. If he adds a cupcake with vanilla ice-cream and a 330ml beer you can add about another 1 and a half hours. So it could take him from lunch at 1pm until 7pm of constant speedy walking to burn off his lunch. If he eats it in the evening and watches TV and goes to bed then it is ‘ fatty deposits here I come’ and not just in the liver.
Burning off sugar is not easy or quick.
You, Jamie, may need glucose if you are on a long cycle or positioned as a wingback in the football team or a runner. Athletes’ energy needs are fast and high. Your body can convert what it has into glucose without you eating any but that may be too slow for an athlete. So #lowcarb not #nocarb.
Try getting your carbs from fruit and veg not biscuits, pizza and ‘energy drinks’.
- Change food choices.
- Foods that combine sugar with salt and fat are especially seductive…. Can you think of any foods that do this and tell your Dad
- Use the Change for Life Food scanner. https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/change4life-food-scanner/id1182946415
- Stop cravings
- Craving happens because sugar has got a grip of his stomach brain…. It messages his thinking brain to tell it to ‘bring on the sugar’. Exercise can help retrain his stomach brain.
- Set manageable targets
- Can you set your Dad targets and be his checker?
- Withdrawal symptoms to overcome
- Uncomfortable behaviours or feelings happen when anyone starts to give up something to which they are addicted. Sugar has got control of your Dad. Getting its vice like grip off is a challenge. Rattled brain, temper, stomach ache, grumpiness happen just like they do to smokers and excess drinkers as they give up.
- Make new activities the new normal.
- Enticing him into more exercise is a winner. Dopamine can be triggered by hard exercise. Or get your Dad to post on Instagram of fun stuff whenever he thinks about sweet stuff or make memes of the challenge. Or just take him for a walk….especially if you don’t have a dog!!
- Finding support
- Suggest he joins a support group like the one on Facebook called ‘Sugar Bomb in your Brain’.
Last of all, focus your comments on his successes and be with him when his determination wobbles. He will thank you for his longer healthier life. Every Dad wants to be around to enjoy their grandchildren. You are making sure he can enjoy yours.