My Sweet Tooth Returns – Sugar Really Is Like Crack!!

Every time I think I have it under control, it comes back. I don’t even realize it’s happening until I’m feeling icky, moody and have gained a couple pounds. And just in time for bathing suit season, no less!! Sugar addiction is a real thing, and it has me rethinking everything I’ve learned so far. For over a year now I’ve read countless articles, books, essays and blogs about nutrition and food (some insightful, some misleading) and it always seems to come back to sugar. Could this one thing be at the root of America’s health problems?

We all know that added sugar isn’t good for us, but I truly believe the situation is much worse than that. Most of us are suffering from sugar addiction. And I believe that most of us are in denial that the problem even exists. The average American eats 156 pounds of sugar each year. That is the equivalent of 31 five-pound bags a year – 7 ounces (just under a cup) a day. Most of the time we don’t even know we’re eating sugar. Prepackaged, processed foods, even savory foods, are laced with it.

There is enough evidence out there to say that sugar affects us in the same way drugs do. It’s mood altering, addictive and withdrawal symptoms occur when it’s taken away. I won’t to go as far as to say that sugar is equivalent to cocaine, but they are worth comparing. Remember that cocaine was once legal and also remember that it was one of the original ingredients and the inspiration for the name of America’s favorite drink. It was later outlawed and removed from the drink, but (interestingly) the amount of sugar in sodas and other junk food has gradually increased over the decades. I can’t help but wonder whether Coke, Nabisco, Kraft and other big names in the food industry (including fast food restaurants) will one day face law suits for covering up and down playing the addictive quality and health risks of sugar, similar to those faced by Phillip Morris and the tobacco industry.  I believe those companies know just how addictive sugar is. And they know that putting it in their food will keep us (and has kept us) all coming back for more.

Enough about added sugar and the dirty dealings of the food industry for now. That’s not the only place sugar is found. While whole fruit (not peeled, dried, candied, juiced, fruit sauce, etc.) is good for you, it does contains fructose (sugar), so there is a such thing as too much fruit. Milk also contains sugar. Unfortunately, in our society, our sweet tooth is so out of scale with nature and our bodies ability to metabolize sugar, that most of us probably don’t even really consider these whole foods to be sugary.

When sugar is eaten with the entire, original package – as delivered by nature (fat in the case of milk and skin, pulp, etc. in the case of fruit and veggies) – we’re much better off. We ingest less sugar because the fiber, fat and even the water in these foods fill us up and tell our brains that we’ve had enough. Dried fruit on the other hand, with water removed, or applesauce without the fibrous peel isn’t going fill us up until we’ve already ingested too much sugar. A couple of dried apricots halves aren’t going to be enough for most of us. But one whole, fresh apricots might just do the trick. The same goes with milk. If you drink a glass of  whole milk you’ll be more satisfied than you would if you drank the same amount of skim milk. The amount of sugar is the same in skim and whole milk (12 grams per cup). If you like it thin… I don’t know. Add water to it? Then at least you’re also cutting down the sugar.

Here’s something else to consider. There are about 145 calories in a cup of whole milk, versus 90 calories in a cup of skim. So only a third more calories – only 55 more calories per cup . The nutritive value is well worth the extra calories. Another way to look at this is that you could actually drink less milk if you drink nutrient dense whole milk in place of skim, and you’d save money. Milk costs the same per gallon whether you buy skim, 2% or whole. This is yet another example of how buying the real, whole, nutrient dense food is actually cheaper, not more expensive, than it’s processed, refined counterparts. And yes, skim milk is processed, refined whole milk.

But back to the crack. Sugar’s drug-like qualities aren’t the only reason we should avoid it. Simply put, we should be getting the greatest amount of nutrients for the least amount of calories. Study after study shows that limiting calories has the greatest impact on weight loss, health and longevity. And sugar has the least amount of nutrients for the greatest amount of calories. Added sugar, especially refined sugars like sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup (because it’s the cheapest, most widely used sweetener in the food industry) and even sugar substitutes have no place in our diet. No diet – anywhere… ever – recommends added sugar. Natural sugars, like honey and evaporated cane juice (still added sugar), may have some nutritive value, but still are nowhere near worth the calories. The only sugar we should be consuming should come from whole, natural foods like fruit and milk.

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About Michele
Wife and Mom of three girls doing her best to lead the family into a healthier lifestyle and evolve gracefully.

One Response to My Sweet Tooth Returns – Sugar Really Is Like Crack!!

  1. Jennifer says:

    Great info and advice!
    Thanks!

    Choose Happiness & Success!
    Jennifer

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