By Samantha Childs for NutritiousAmerica.com
Please say the following out loud: “Hello my name is ________ (fill in your name), and I am an addict.”
Here are some clues:
- It’s most common form is as a white powder.
- In the 1300s it was recognized as a potent drug and handled under lock and key by apothecaries.
- It’s original name, bestowed by the French, was crack.
You guessed it. Sugar. Sugar is the crack of the masses. I learned this from famous psychotherapist Julia Ross at the 2011 Nutrition Conference held by The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Sugar as a drug? Yes. And not just that, it is a high calorie drug. (A double whammy.)
Here are the characteristics of a drug/addictive substance:
- Loss of control
- Continued use despite adverse consequences
- High relapse rate (with sugar it is 97%)
- Progressive and terminal
Sugar has all of these traits.
- People get hyper or “sugar rushes” from eating it.
- People continue to eat sugar even after their figures and health have been negatively affected.
- Going off sugar causes cravings, headaches, and irritability.
- Only 3% of people who try effectively quit sugar.
- Sugar may increase your chances of getting diabetes, heart disease (which is the highest killer in the US), and cancer (the second highest killer) .
This really puts cinnamon and sugar toast in a new perspective. As a child, my parents were feeding me cinnamon and crack for breakfast.
Julia Ross also said that sugar was not food. (And this includes white starches, which eventually convert to sugar in your system.) I’d never looked at it that way before. I figured that because it has calories, it is food. But my shoe has calories. I wouldn’t consider my shoe food. There are millions of people, including severely overweight people, who are suffering from malnutrition because of this. Those ice cream sandwiches I ate the other day weren’t food – they were my sugar fix. I might as well have ground them up and snorted them.
As the 2010 United Nations Report said, for the first time ‘lifestyle diseases’ (such as those previously mentioned) were killing more than infectious diseases. The UN put the responsibility on tobacco, alcohol, and diet. The first two are strongly regulated. But sugar? Not at all. As Gary Taubes said in New York Times Magazine, “It’s not about the calories. It has nothing to do with the calories. It’s a poison by itself.”
I can’t control whether the government chooses to regulate the nation’s sugar intake, but I can decide to regulate my own. Last week, I started a detox program under the supervision of my nutritionist at Nutritious America, and haven’t eaten processed sugar for going on seven days. Now, I’m not going to lie to you. The beginning was tough. The first three days I definitely had symptoms of withdrawal and would have killed someone for a slice of pizza. But now, oddly, I feel really good. (And as a welcome side effect, I’ve already lost five pounds!) It was definitely worth the beginning struggle. I’m working to kick this addiction. I hope that you do too. Because no little kid says “I wanna be a junkie when I grow up.”