We generally have the ability to taste things that are sweet, salty, sour and bitter. There is also a fifth taste sensation for the unique flavors such as in meat and cheese. Foods we eat can be a mix such as the sweet and sour dressing for salad, or the sour lemons mixed with sugar and water making lemonade. And oh! That sweet taste is such a powerful one!
Our bodies want to get the most calories out of the food that we put in our mouths. It is a survival thing. Food did not always exist in the quantity it does now, nor was it always so easily acquired as it is now for most Americans. It also wasn’t processed and packaged in mass like it is today. This has given rise to the Standard American Diet (SAD). Sweet tells our body that there is loads of quick energy in the food going over the tongue. The body knows this and has acquired a strong affinity for things that taste sweet. So much that it is a common addiction of people in industrialized nations all over the world. Where sweet may once have been a treat, it is now a staple in many diets, a daily indulgence. For some, multiple times per day.
The sweet of sugar is in bags, boxes, cans, bottles, jars and on menus everywhere in America. Some food-serving establishments are dedicated solely to satisfying the sweet tooth that most admit that they have. Many do not realize, however, that it is more than just a sweet tooth; they are in fact the metaphorical sweet teeth that will bite their owner throughout a lifetime of overindulgence.
When we think of addictive substances we commonly think of the nicotine in cigarettes, the alcohol in beverages such as beer and wine or even the caffeine in our coffee. We may consider the poor junkie living on the streets strung out on heroin or those who would sell their very souls for their addiction. It is not likely that it will come to mind the man or woman who has to have that candy bar, or craves to the point of burning desire that piece of cake or a chocolate fudge sundae.
Overindulgence of sugar is directly related to the rampant increase of Type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases due to the SAD style of eating of many American adults and children. We not only love our sugar, we love our sugar mixed with high amounts of fat. Ice cream, anyone?
There are about 28.6 grams of carbohydrate in 1 ounce of sugar. That is 4 grams of carbohydrate per teaspoon of sugar, and there are about 10 teaspoons of sugar in a regular can of soda. For the 6 foot tall, 40 year-old, 175 pound male who is happy being at 175 pounds his daily carbohydrate requirement is roughly 299-350 grams of carbs in a day (and that’s a lot of carbs!). One can of regular soda is about one-eighth of his whole daily intake of carbs. Two cans of soda and a candy bar is approaching half of the daily amount of carbohydrate intake needed to maintain his weight, and it is all in the form of simple sugars! Many Americans finish off two cans of soda and a candy bar before lunch. And if it isn’t soda and candy bars, it is muffins, pancakes, doughnuts, milkshakes, sweet tea, pastries, pies, cakes and the list goes on.
The body craves that simple energy from the simple carbohydrate we know as sugar. The body needs energy to do its thing, and sugar is quick and simple. But in those 28.6 grams of carbohydrate that are in 1 ounce of sugar, there is no fiber, no protein, and no significant amounts of vitamins or minerals.It is just a bit of quick energy in crystalline form. Remind you of that crack cocaine yet?
Please give me sugar. That’s how it starts out after the body has its first sugar high. Oh it’s not words but a strong feeling – I want some sugar. Wait a little while and it will be, I need sugar. Hold off a little while longer and the body will be screaming GIVE ME SUGAR NOW!
A lifetime of yielding to the craving of sugar will cause weight gain. That can then develop into insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can develop into diabetes that may need to be treated with oral medications or injections of insulin. Does anyone look forward to that? If not, then fight the addiction to sugar now.
A great way to succeed is to quit cold turkey. Just stop eating sugar all at once. Seriously. And that is what most experts will tell you. But you need to be prepared for the onslaught of some withdrawal symptoms that can rival withdrawal from an illicit drug or alcohol addiction. But the choice is yours. Do you want to be addicted to a substance that always sends you on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, literally controlling you each and every day? Sugar is involved in, and even the direct cause of, many issues such as:
- Weight gain
- Insulin resistance
- Foggy thinking
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sudden rising and falling of energy levels
- Yeast infections
- Interference in mineral absorption
- Tooth decay and Gum disease
- Upsetting the delicate balance of the flora of the gut
- Sleep Disruption
- Increase appetite causing you to eat even more
But wait, there’s more! Studies show that sugar can be linked to depression and anxiety too. Hopefully this is enough to raise awareness and initiate a desire to eliminate sugar from the diet. It must be done entirely at first to feel the freedom of not being bound to the addictive effects of sugar. A little of those sugary foods can be added back in after the addiction is beaten, but it could likely be like an alcoholic trying to drink just a little wine.
The offending sugar is everywhere and in just about everything. Sugar that causes the most problems is sucrose that is refined from sugar cane and sugar beets, and the high-fructose corn syrup found in just about every processed food. Many products are loaded with sugar and then with added salt to take away some of the sweetness. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that provides quick but short acting energy followed by the crash as the sugar high or sugar rush wears off. This is then followed by the craving to get high on sugar again.
Instead of following the Standard American Diet, take some time to learn about complex carbohydrates balanced with protein that include natural vitamins and minerals. The food that grandma said will stick to your bones. No, she didn’t mean it will make you fat; the meaning lies in that the food will provide nourishment to the body in more than the limited way the simple energy of sugar can provide.
I wish I could say that beating the sugar addiction will be easy, but it most certainly will not. However, there is a choice to be made. We can continue to exist in an unhealthy state, living off of whatever drops out of the vending machine or is passed through the drive-thru window, or we can make a stand to live healthier in order to feel better, be better, and live longer.