This month is our month to explore sugar. It is an interesting subject and one that raises some very loud concerns from clients that are struggling to give it up. I am one of those people that have a love hate relationship with sugar.
I like to say I come by it honestly or that it is in my genetics. Both my grandmother and my mother loved their sugar. My mom used to hide her chocolate bars in the house so that we wouldn’t find them, eating her chocolate in secret so no one would know. To be honest. I did the same. And, by the time I hit my mid 40’s, I would eat half of a Lindt milk chocolate bar, not the little version, the very big version almost every night. I do have to say, Lindt milk chocolate is the best. Soda’s were part of my daily regimen as well. I loved Coke. I can still taste it. What my taste buds wouldn’t give to taste that wonderful flavor again.
The History of Sugar Consumption
Before we get started on the rest of my story let’s take a look at the history of the yearly consumption of sugar by the average person.
1700’s – 4lbs sugar/year
1800’s – 18lbs sugar/year
1900’s – 90lbs sugar/year
2009 – 180lbs sugar/year
And, when I’m talking sugar, I am making reference to all of the following.
Sugar, Glucose, Honey, Sorghum syrup, Lactose, Fruit Juice Concentrate, Fructose, Corn Syrup, Sorbiot, Molasses, and
Maltose, Corn Sweetener, Dextrose, Sucrose, Brown Sugar, Syrup. High Fructose Corn Syrup
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s continue with the rest of my story.
That was my adult sugar story. What was my kid sugar story? We always, always had homemade desserts in the house. And, I loved going to my grandmothers because that is when the special desserts would be made for us. And the box of turtles chocolates were taken out every day so we could have just one. It was all regulated but they were still there. Soda was also regulated. By the time I was 15, I was making my own money and for lunch every day, I would buy an ice cream sandwich. I can still taste that too. Before long, McDonald’s was no longer a treat, it was a staple along with a super-sized coke. Once it wasn’t monitored anymore, I kind of gave up my vegetables for sugar. Not a good start to a healthy existence.
Why is sugar so hard to kick?
That’s my sugar story but that isn’t really the difficulty that I have with sugar. The difficulty that I have with sugar is a lot more underlying. And, it is the same story that many of us have with sugar. There are many affects that we will talk about in more blogs this month but I’m talking about the difficulty.
To understand the difficulty, you have to understand a little bit on the science.
Our brain has a pleasure center which is a really good thing. If we didn’t have that, there wouldn’t be much of a reason for living. When we have sugar, the pleasure center of our brain receives a dopamine signal that is triggered by the prefrontal cortex. This is the same thing that happens with addictive drugs. Go figure.
Once the pleasure center has been activated, we want more of that experience, so we eat more. With the increase in sugar, the signal becomes weaker and weaker so it requires more sugar to have the same effect. Sounds a bit like a drug doesn’t it? Yes. But it is just sugar. Tolerance and withdrawal are also words that are used in the scientific descriptions of the effects of sugar on the body truly classifying it as an addictive substance.
Being an addictive substance without the label, makes it, I think, the worst addictive substance out there. It is only just starting to be recognized for all of the negative effects that sugar consumption in abundance will have on the body. If you look at the labels on the reduced fat or non-fat foods, you will find excessive amounts of sugar. It helps with the flavor. And If you think that the food companies don’t understand this science, you are fooling yourself. They rely on our addiction. Our addiction means better business for them.
The more we eat, the more we want.
That is where I was. Although I have never experienced the effects of addictive drugs, I imagine that this issue that I have with sugar can’t be that different. And I also know, it will never truly go away. I have to go out of my way to avoid it. The willpower that it takes for me to pass up the candy and chocolate bars in grocery stores, especially my favorites is sooo hard. I know that if I partake, I am going to ignite the cravings again that I have worked so hard to eliminate.
Here is the reality. My health as I have shared so much about is so important to me. I love the way I feel when I’m healthy. I love that I wake up in the morning pain free. I love the energy that I have. I love that I am not a slave to foods that don’t do me any favors anymore, even though I have to work at it. I have made a choice for health and I make a conscious effort to control the amount of sugar that I eat. If I do, I make sure it is a healthier option and that it is controlled.
Sugar is not your friend either!!
I realize this isn’t a terribly in depth or scientific article. I prefer to just cut to the chase with the things that I know. I have tried to simplify the facts. You can do your research and read more about it if you choose. Sugar is not your friend.
I know the choice is hard to eliminate sugar. Being sick is a choice as well. The consequences of that choice are hard. There is no half-assed choice to health. You are either all in or you aren’t. Make the choice to be all in. You are worth it.