Sugar: notes on an addiction

“I need it. I need it. I have a stash. I just need one. I’ll just leave the kids in the bath while I run and get one. Oh, they’re crying? That’s okay, I’ll just be a second. Aaah. Okay, one more. One more. One more. Oh no–too many! Why did I do that??”

That was me and my stash of Laura Secord peanut butter chocolate Santa eggs. The next morning my mood was black.

Now, if you don’t think you’re addicted to sugar, try going off it for a day. I tried this last December and had a wicked headache for 2 days. But after that, the cravings went away. My mistake was trying this a week before Christmas. Of course once I brought back the chocolates and even the sugar in my coffee, the cravings were back.

One friend of mine has a mantra: “Sugar is death.” She watched her father die of diabetes. In her younger days, my grandmother, a self-described “syrpaholic”, would take hits off a jar of syrup she kept in the fridge. She lived with diabetes most of her life. Another friend told me about a visit to a Naturopath who told her she needed to go off sugar. She said she almost cried.

Sugar is really bad for you. According to Nourishing Traditions,

– it depletes your body of nutrients during its metabolization.

– continually spiking our blood sugar levels by eating refined sugar eventually disrupts our bodies’ ability to regulate its own blood sugar levels. This is the cause of diabetes.

– sugar consumption has been linked to shortened life spans in animals, anorexia and eating disorders in people, and problems with the heart, liver, pancreas and adrenal glands (NT p. 23 sites several studies)

– some researchers have named sugar–not fat–consumption as the cause of heart disease

– it has also been connected to osteoporosis and tooth cavities, as well as hyperactivity, behaviour problems and violence.

So why do we eat so much of it? One reason is that we are programmed to want to eat fruit at the height of their ripeness, and sweetness, which is also their nutritional peak. So advertisers tempt us with brightly coloured highly sweetened “foods” they know our primitive brains will crave. The difference is that fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber, which regulate the way the sugar is metabolized, and also nourish us.

And why would they do this when everyone knows how bad sugar is for us? Because it means huge profits. Think of a bottle of cola. A little artificial flavouring, a dose of sugar, and some water. Sell that at a huge markup, and you’ve got a license to print money.

All this has been rattling around my brain this month, especially in light of my little sugar fit I told you about at the top of this post. So in another Frugal Urban experiment in living, I’m going to try going off it again. Who knows how long it will last, or what the repercussions will be! All I know is that I need a lot of determination to get through this.

How about you–have you ever gone off sugar? What was the hardest thing about it?

4 thoughts on “Sugar: notes on an addiction

  1. Yes! And I’m trying hard to do it again! I’ve become so reliant on sugar lately and I know how bad it is for my body..and growing baby! Its nice to have the reminder from you how satisfying it is when you don’t have sugar cravings anymore.

    I altered my diet dramatically when I started my 2nd year of University several years ago because I was having all kinds of digestive problems. I lost all the weight I had gained through my teenage years, felt healthier than ever, and never craved sugar (hard to imagine eh?)I craved carrot sticks and bottles of water. I ate very little sugar… and no wheat. That was the bigger problem for me. A bonus of this? I craved exercise too! I couldn’t handle a meal without at least a walk afterwards.

    I want to get back to that point, thanks for the push Frugal+Urban!!!

  2. I did it last year but made the mistake of going all in and giving up foods that act like sugar at the same time (so bread, pasta, grains etc). I lasted about a week and then caved. In that time I did feel a lot better and I lost a few kilos! I am back to it now – helped by the fact that all our summer fruit is in season now in Australia!

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