Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sugar is as Addictive as Cocaine

In December 2007 I went on a 24-hour sugar fast because I read somewhere that it might help reduce under-eye puffiness.  Not only did I have under-eye bags, but they carried around their own purses as well!  Well, it worked - or at least I convinced myself that they were a bit smaller.  I was excited about the results so I continued restricting my sugar intake. I still ate fruits and natural sugars, just no refined sugars.  This included no breads or flour products of any kind.  After two weeks my under-eye bags were minimal (I'm 44 and I think I have some hereditary bagginess going on too), but other things happened to me as well.  I lost four pounds, I wasn't tired mid-day, and I went to the bathroom regularly.  I felt and (thought I) looked great!

Unfortunately, my sugar-free period lasted only two weeks.  I indulged in some holiday fudge, then cookies, then pie, and things quickly got out of control.  My bags, purses, weight, and tiredness all came back.  With such positive, immediate results, I've tried hard this past year to control my sugar intake but it is so easy to fall off the wagon.   My husband told me that he read somewhere that sugar is as addictive as cocaine!  Just put "sugar addiction" in your search engine and see what comes up.  Or check out the sites I have listed under the title of this blog.  

This is what I think (no medical training behind these opinions):  Sugar is a cause of weight gain and obesity.  We eat sugar because it tastes good - it's not only in the obvious things like cookies and cakes, but it's in processed foods as well (that's how come they are so yummy - read labels - I believe 4 grams of sugar is the equivalent of one teaspoon) - there are 28 to 31 grams (almost 8 teaspoons) of sugar in some yogurts!  I've also read that our body turns other foods (white breads and rice) into sugar.  All this processed sugar then creates a chemical reaction in our bodies that causes us to crave more of the same.  Because these types of food have little to no nutritional value (empty calories), our bodies aren't satisfied, so we eat more... of the same.  Now we're hungry for all the wrong things, eat tons of it, and have no energy to boot - we can't exercise even if we wanted to.  Vicious cycle.

Sugar is also the reason I feel diets don't work.  When we diet, we continue to eat what we have been eating, only in smaller amounts  because we are suppose to reduce calories, right?  But the chemical reactions in our bodies, the addiction, is too strong, causing us to break, and then we binge.  We can't lose weight and keep it off when we are just reducing calories and not considering the kinds of food we eat.  When I eat REAL food (vegys, fruit, lean proteins, nuts, boiled eggs, etc.), I'm not always hungry and I have energy!   And I believe I looked better as well.

Although I feel very strongly about the importance of reducing or eliminating sugar from my diet, I have not been able to break the sugar addiction.  I keep trying though.  Maybe this year I'll make it three weeks without refined sugar.  I've told a few people my thoughts on sugar and for the most part I get, "oh, I couldn't give up _____" (iced coffees, candy bars, bread, pasta... you can fill in the blank), and the conversation is abruptly ended.  They would prefer to gripe about their weight or lack of energy than to even consider trying to cut the sugar.  I think there is enough information out there about the dangers of sugar so it is curious to me that more people don't know of them and even worse, don't even want to.  Guess this is addiction at it's finest.  What do you think?  Is sugar really the devil?  Are you an addict?  How can the sugar addiction be broken?  And more so, does it really need to be?


Carol Mattocks said...

Hi Elizabeth
Great blog. I truly believe we are all different in our tolerance levels. What works for some may not work for you. But all causes should be eliminated. Not enough research is put into our input of sugars, particulary refined foods. Its hidden in nearly everyting we eat or purchase to eat (fast foods being the worst offenders). Please tell your Mum to try? cant bear to think of her being in pain like that. Please persevere with this, small steps take longer.
Love Crol x

Kelly the Kitchen Kop said...

I really need the info in this blog to keep me motivated, thank you!