The history of sugar is simple, we found it, we liked it, we added it to everything. Once the industrialization of food became our way of life, to feed the masses, sugar took off with it.
Sugar has become so commonly hidden in our daily intake of food that we find it hard to believe the contents could be addictive. An article from the Huffington Post published in 2013 sites that sugar may be an issue for a small percentage of people, but not to the point where it will make a person react to sugar the way a drug addict might react to cocaine. However, that viewpoint has taken a turn in less than a year.
A more recent article citing a survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal and NBC News shows that sugar could become a worse enemy of the American public than some drugs. WSJ and NBC asked Americans what is most harmful to a person’s body: alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, or sugar? Not surprisingly, alcohol and tobacco took the top two spots, but sugar came in as third—15 percent above marijuana.
21st century addiction
Agreeably enough, there is a difference between drug addictions and a sugar addiction. While most drugs are illegal or must be prescribed by a doctor, sugar is a free for all. Not only that, but it is completely acceptable to consume sugar. So much so that we don’t even realize that if we do not join in on the ritualistic eating of sweets, we could incite negative reactions from our peers. Think birthday/wedding/celebratory cake or a dinner with friends—homemade or not. The awkward reaction after you refuse the offer of a food item that you know to be drowning in sugar is a hard one to get through.
On top of that, once we finish eating one sweet treat, we tend to want more. Of course, that doesn’t mean right away or in the next five minutes. The cravings could come back hours later. What decides how much you crave sugar is truly how much you normally intake. If you eat a lot of candy bars, you tend to want sugar more.
To kick sugar out the door on its bum is a huge step for anyone to make. That is why I decided that taking part in a challenge would be more successful than only saying “I quit.”
“One of the most important and life-changing goals of the Whole30 is to change your tastes, change your habits, and break your emotional and habitual connections with craving sugar and giving your body sugar,” Whole30 stresses on their affiliate Whole9 website.
One side effect of quitting sugar cold turkey is the sugar tantrums. You’re going to have them. An adult acting like a 3 year old leaving a candy store empty handed is a less than appealing side effect, but one that Whole30 says will only last five minutes.
Unfortunately, these cravings can and will come back, often within the same day. Cravings play a constant mind game with you. The first Saturday into this challenge was a terrible day for my mind and body because my cravings would come back in what felt like 15-minute intervals. I couldn’t get past the idea that I couldn’t have a sweet that day or for another 25. However, the cravings are becoming less as the Whole30 challenge goes on.
Free the fat!
What do you eat instead of sugar when a craving hits? Whole 9 suggests fat. Why? Because it satisfies your brain and tricks it into thinking that you are full. What counts as fat? Avocados, nuts, nut butter, coconut anything, and animal fats. They also suggest not going straight to the fruit to cure a craving since it also carries a good amount of sugar in it. That would just be feeding the “sugar dragon.”
So long, sugar
Maybe it is time as a society to take a step back and look at what we are putting into our bodies. We’ve already heard about the horrors of the meat, produce, and grain industry, but what about sugar? The food industry is incredibly ingenious about disguising unhealthy ingredients into healthy-looking products and, for some reason, people tend to forget to look beyond the fancy packaging. It’s true that you can get a general idea about what you’re looking at by a quick glance, but the insidious nature of the industry and the products it makes will create a growing effect on us and our environment.
Resources and interesting reads: