You know you are addicted when you eliminate your “drug” of choice and it feels like something is missing, life just isn’t “as good” without it, you trouble with staying present during activities and conversations because your mind strays to orchestrating your next “fix”. People can get addicted to just about anything – texting, social media, on-line dating, gaming, shopping, TV, sports and it is possible to get addicted to seemingly healthy things like exercise or extreme diets for no medical specific reason.
The easiest way to know if you are addicted to something is to consider eliminating it. Do you start to fidget? Make excuses? Then, remove it, and watch how you respond to its absence.
Addictions are emotional survival tools
Needs are concrete truths, like your body needing air and water
A few road signs you are addicted to sugar….
✔ You never get tired of sweet, no excessive amount makes you sick and your food choices have a sweet component.
✔ You eat sweets you don’t like if that is all that is available.
✔ You convince yourself one small candy isn’t a big deal, but have a tough time stopping after one.
✔ You justify the sugar intake.
✔ Generously making sweets available to others makes you happy.
✔ You aren’t an addict, you have a “sweet tooth”.
✔ When others have the courage to point out your problem, you retort with “that is just who I am”.
✔ Your life and the lives of others around you goes into freeze frame when you need food. Only to resume when you have something to eat.
✔ Hunger may arrive with a panic state sensation.
✔ You have an inner sugar negotiator who keeps track of sugar credits and debits, creates the rules, and gives or takes permission away based on the situation.
✔ It’s the sweet version or nothing. Chocolate is divine, but not dark chocolate. You love coffee, but only if it is a sweetened variety. Bottled beverages are your preference because water is “boring”.
✔ Holidays and special occasions are great excuses to indulge in company.
✔ You don’t consider yourself a sugar addict because your choices are whole, organic or “healthy”.
✔ You don’t eat sweets, but you drink sugar loaded alcohol and don’t see the relationship.
Consult a doctor and get properly tested if you have symptoms of blood sugar related disorders such as instant perspiration for no apparent reason, jumpy and shaking sensation, sense of doom, blurry vision, spinning, dizzy, need to sit or lay down, loss of consciousness, change in urinary flow or increased thirst.
Sugar Cane, Maple, Honey, dried fruit, nectars, beets, juice, fruit…
They are all ALL sugar – Sugar is SUGAR
Any amount triggers the addiction
Some college students get through college with ramen noodles as one of their staple foods, mine was white marshmallows, but in my 20’s I transitioned to a whole foods diet. I didn’t even drink fruit juice because my logic was saying “If I only ever ate 1 apple at a time, why was I drinking the value of 6?”. I thought I had fixed my sugary preference, but what I had done was conceal the addiction behind the façade of “healthy” by using honey, maple and dried fruits. On those rare occasions when I did have a drink it was always one that was loaded with sugar because I simply didn’t associate a cocktail with as much sugar as they actually have. Everyone knew I was NOT an alcoholic, what they didn’t see was that I was a sugar addict. I had become the equivalent of the pharmaceutical drug addict that doesn’t see their addiction because it is hidden behind a doctor’s Rx, is received at the pharmacy and paid for by health insurance. When I needed a sugar fix I was as deeply in the neurosis as is Pooh Bear when he is off questing to find honey – at any cost. And like Pooh Bear, I could polish off a whole jar of honey, on an empty stomach, no matter how big the jar, but I stood at the counter with a fork!…
Society smiles, winks and gives sugar addicts the charming title of “sweet tooth” while alcoholics are labeled as being sick and having a disease. I think most alcoholics would prefer the title of “spirit tooth”. All addictions alter body chemistry and hormones. All types of sugar (natural, processed or chemically engineered and manufactured) disrupt metabolism and body function. An addiction is an addiction. All addicts are sick with a disease, including those with a “sweet tooth”.
Want to witness the true power of sugar addiction with an uncensored demonstration of sugar withdrawal? Simple. Watch what happens when a child doesn’t get their “fix”.
Sugar is as much a part of American life today as is breathing
Our society’s relationship to food now circles around sugar – natural and processed. Look at on-line food article sections, grocery store magazines, even the “health” oriented magazines are stuffed with suggestions and advertisements that encourage sugar use while guaranteeing it is your ticket to getting that “like” vote for the “wow” factor. Just yesterday an online headline in the food section promised fluffier scrambled eggs. It was the only article I was certain would not be related to sugar, but it was. The secret was to add 1 teaspoon of sugar to 2-3 scrambled eggs! Really?
During millions of years of human body evolution sweets were reserved to whole fruits that required chewing before swallowing and maybe a rare experience of honey or sweet sap in its natural state. Now it is a staple element at every meal and in just about everything.
“Everyone else is doing it” doesn’t hold water
They may be addicted too
The extent of my kooky relationship to natural whole food sugar sources was clear the moment I eliminated it. Getting out of bed was laborious because breakfast without fruit preserves or honey wasn’t fun and felt like a punishment. Was I only happy to sit at the table to feed the sugar addiction? Meals and snacks left me unsatisfied and wanting more. Then there was the inner dialog going on my head. It was like watching a sporting event: Sugar vs Sober. In the background were heated debates of feral voices as one confidently claimed “one small spoon won’t hurt – it’s natural” backed by a cheerleader chiming in with “she hasn’t had any for 9 whole days, give her a reward” followed by the categorical counterarguments “she won’t stop at one”, “she will crash and burn in three hours”, “she’ll lose 9 whole days of being sugar sober”. While I am not the poster child for sugar addiction, the underlying dynamic was the same and so I decided to get clean and be sugar sober.
Millions of American’s are addicted to sugar and many suffer seemingly unrelated medical conditions as a result. I see sugar addicts walking about with their “fix” disguised as athletic hydration, “Green” juice, a coffee house beverage, “energy” food, protein powder and protein bars. Or dressed up as tea, marinades, sauces and whole organic healthy foods that wear a mask of Healer, Zen, Honest, Harmless and Natural. Some are truly living the “healthy life” by keeping fit, staying active and eating “healthy” and no one would ever guess that there is a sugar addiction, not even the sugar addict.
School taught you how to read… just not between the lines
Product packaging is like a magician doing a magic trick. They catch and hold your attention “over here” so you don’t see the truth happening “over there”. Marketing uses a perfect combination of words with images that grab your insides without your perceiving their sleight of hand. So let’s look at some pictures because they are worth a thousand words.
Plain vs Vanilla yogurt (Same brand)
Single Serving bottle of tea
Almond Milk (Unsweetened vs “Normal”)
Natural Ginger Ale
“Health” promoting gummy vitamins
Dressing and Marinade
“Intestinal” Health Beverage
Roasted Pepper Soup
Hot and Spicy Barbecue Sauce
DRUM ROLL PLEASE. !!!…
BBQ and Basting Sauce
Nothing changes until something changes, no matter how small. Want to know if you are addicted to sugar? Remove it and watch what happens. Notice your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, sleep, dreams, energy levels and if your experience and relationship to food changes. My life truly is far calmer since I got sugar sober, and my next article will share what I learned.
p.s. Seriously suggested viewing: “Sugar Coated”. It is a documentary from 2015 that is less than an hour, free on youtube and reveals the sugar industries cover-up.
p.p.s. – I use Oreos, Reese’s, Snickers and Coca Cola to illustrate the level of sugar in the pictured items because I know you understand that level of “sugar misbehaving” better than if I show you the measured amount in white sugar. I am in no way encouraging you to eat these items.