There is no doubt much has been made of it’s badness, and with good reason. It’s BAD people, like, real bad. It’s substitutes, like Aspartame, and Splenda, and Malitol or Xylitol, are also, pretty darn horrible. (Well, Malitol is great if you really enjoy running to the bathroom or your gut making really strange noises and feeling like an alien is about to emerge… but that’s another story.)
Sugar is evil. Let’s not kid ourselves, however, that is not why I’m writing about it. I’m writing about the reason it’s evil: it’s addictive. It’s so addictive in fact, it’s as bad as, if not worse than, Cocaine. That’s right, the very same part of the brain lights up when you enjoy a sugar high as when you enjoy getting high off cocaine. And you know, the very same addiction patterns show up – only with Sugar, unlike Cocaine, or other hard drugs, with Sugar, it’s ALLOWED. You don’t have to seek it out, hell no, it’s in every store, in every check out aisle. It’s in the food they say is GOOD for us. It’s in our drinks. It’s everywhere. A sugar addict, does not have to go far for a fix. Hell, most of the time you don’t even realize you’re getting high. It just IS.
Now, this again, is not really, totally, big NEWS. But it’s easily dismissed news. When talking about it, most of the time, people just laugh it off (usually while eating a muffin, or donut, or cookie, or candy, or chocolate). Hahaha, yes, we are all sugar addicts. But the thing is, it’s not that funny. It’s a legal drug. A totally legal and in some places, and cases, almost obligatory drug. You’re gonna get hooked. The gamble is, are you going to get hooked and suffer it’s consequences, or, are you going to be lucky. You could LOOK good, but still be “fat” on the inside (a special term for that exists called “thin on the outside, fat on the inside” or, TOFI – where your liver is fatty, but your belly, is not). You could actually BE okay, your hormones still function, your metabolism works, you aren’t prone to Diabetes, you can quit sugar anytime, lose weight, gain weight, all normally. You COULD be one of those, but chances are, you aren’t. I know I’m not.
Why am I writing about it? I am doing so because, like any addiction, it’s serious, deadly serious, with horrible, and deadly side effects. And, like any addiction, especially one that is fought on both a biological and mental level, it’s insidious and incredibly hard to kick. It is made even harder by the fact that it’s not taken seriously, it’s laughed at as an addiction, it’s enabled on a near constant basis, and the drug is available in the extreme.
I write about it because social events at my job are based around food, and not just food, candy, sugar, cake, goodies. I write about it because sugar is passed around as a gift at my job and at home – and expected to be taken as such. I write about it because even though there is laughter around “sugar addiction” and a vague recognition that it is indeed, addictive, there is no action taken to stop it, it’s completely enabled, and in fact, if you are trying to NOT have it, you are often teased, mocked and even taunted with the very substance you are trying to quit.
Personally I wonder what would happen if someone was caught waving cocaine under an addict’s nose. Would that be tolerated or thought of as cool? Or pouring alcohol in the glass of a known alcoholic and telling them “hey it’s okay it’s JUST ONE glass, everything in moderation, right buddy!” I don’t think those things would be tolerated. I don’t think those actions would be seen as, well, nice, or right.
But not so with Sugar. And it’s not people’s fault really to not recognize Sugar as the evil addictive substance that it is, because as I said, it’s everywhere, it’s legal, and hey, if you really want to you can just ignore the folks who say all these horrible things about it. And hey, it’s all about “willpower” right? I mean if those fat people just stopped eating so much sugar they’d be okay. Right? That’s all it takes.
Wrong. So completely misinformed, ignorant and wrong.
Sugar is worse than Cocaine, than Cigarettes, than Heroine or even prescription drugs. It’s worse because even though it is addictive in the extreme, because of it’s status and availability and the lack of support mechanisms in place, anyone who is trying to beat that addiction, is facing a battle far harder than any addiction to drugs or alcohol. There is no rehab for sugar. You don’t get a AA for Sugar. You can HIDE Sugar addiction until you’re fat, at which point you will get shamed, and feel the same kinds of shame any other hard core addict feels around their addiction – but, there won’t be the same help. You’ll see reams of self help articles and diet books and read about what foods will make you crave LESS and what pills might help, but nothing will ever take away seeing sugar every single day, or having it offered to you, constantly – or fighting your family at home because they eat it freely in front of you while you try to quit. You aren’t handed Cocaine as something to heal sadness, unlike, say, Chocolate – “having a bad day? broke up with your boyfriend? Let’s have ICE CREAM and chocolate and WINE!” Sugar isn’t locked up in a cabinet, it’s not something you are going to go to jail for. One bad day and it’s right there. One bad moment. Your fridge has a bagel, bread, something – something that you can eat with sugar.
But, you’ll still end up a junkie begging for more, and getting it, because it’s cheap, available, and totally legal.
Think I’m exaggerating? Just a rant from a sugar addict who needs to get their opinions on? Try this: try, not eating ANY form of processed food for a month. And I mean ANY form. No crackers, gluten free anything, nothing out of a box, or a can, or a jar. Don’t put sugar in your coffee or tea. NO honey, no syrup, no Agave nectar. Sure, eat fruit and veggies and meat. Oh yeah, but no processed meat, like sausages, or even things like Bacon, because even THAT has Sugar. Hell, eat some pasta even – but no sauce, unless you make it yourself and don’t put sugar in it. Oh, no condiments either – those have sugar. No Wine, no Beer, no Alcohol. Don’t do the sugar substitutes either, that’s kinda like just doing Ritalin instead of Cocaine. Say NO to every thing offered in your place of employment. Want to slip up once? Sure, but you better notice it. Pay attention to why you want to. Understand that even for the thin person who doesn’t think they have a problem, this is going to be tough. Pay attention to the relief you feel at the end of the month, and even though your body feels great and you think you’re detox is all done – notice that at the end of just one month your first inclination will be “HELL Yes, I want a DONUT (or whatever form of sugar you care for)!!” And you’ll feel justified in eating it.
And then remember that a cocaine addict or an alcoholic does not have that luxury. And that for them, slipping up and the relief of a dose of their drug after one month of sobriety could mean death.
For the Sugar addict, that death may not happen right away, but it will happen. It will be slow, painful, shameful and horrible, it will strip of them of their dignity and rob them of their will to live.
I write this because Sugar needs to be thought of in a much more serious way, it needs to understood what kind of drug it is, and the addictive powers it holds, and people need to have the same care and compassion for those people trying so hard to win the battle against it.
It’s not a battle I have won – I win, I lose, I succeed, I fail – I study Addiction and strategies for coping and I do everything I can do to beat it, and still I falter, daily. So I write for those who falter – and I acknowledge the depths of the battle ahead. For myself, for others, and for everyone who just doesn’t get the power of sugar addiction. I write this especially for them – because man, reality is a bitch when it hits you in the health department – and for most people in this sugar addicted world – it’s a bill most of us cannot afford to pay. I for one don’t want to pay it, or see the people I love pay it.
I do NOT write this for advice, or stories (I have enough of both for a lifetime or three)- I write this for awareness alone. Awareness and understanding, perhaps even compassion, and the hopes that one day Sugar is seen for the Addictive substance it is – and that the same support is available for people who need help with it. I write it ,because from what I observe, MOST of the people I know are sugar addicts – they may never get it, admit to it or understand it that way, but they are. I’ve seen enough cookies, TimBits and candy to prove it.