Sugar: Just as Addictive as Cocaine!

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If you knew me back in high school or even college, it is a safe bet to say I was addicted to sugar. I had copious amounts of candy at every beck and call. What turned me on the most was the fruity candy. Oh baby! I had lunch boxes filled to the brim with Sour Patch Straws, Warheads, and Starburst, just to name a few. Halloween really got me going as I rushed from doorstep to doorstep attempting to outweigh my sisters’ pillow case at the end of the night. Oh man! As I began down my journey to a healthier lifestyle, I realized that there was a way to kick this sugar habit to the curb.


On a day-to-day basis, you probably aren’t very aware of how much added sugar you consume. It is found in a bunch of packaged goods and often difficult to decipher how much added sugar is in a package. One teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4 grams of sugar. It is recommended that an adult woman consumes at most, 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of sugar a day. Men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons (38 grams). Children should consume no more than 3-6 teaspoons (12-25 grams) depending on age and size.


You also need to look at serving size. For example, a 32 oz. Gatorade bottle says “21g” under sugar. The serving size is 12 fl. oz. and the servings per container are 2.5. This means there are actually 52.5 grams of sugar in a 32 oz. bottle of Gatorade. This would be more than enough sugar for a woman to have in two days! Some alternatives to Gatorade would include coconut water to replace electrolytes and kombucha for energy. Ketchup had even more in the entire bottle.


The ingredient list is another place where the food companies trick you! Usually, the biggest ingredient is listed first on the list. Food companies disguise sugar as multiple names so it can be spread out among the list of “foods” on the nutrition label. This makes it seem like sugar isn’t the main ingredient. Sugar can show up as the following names on a nutrition label: “anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, crystal dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, liquid fructose, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, pancake syrup, raw sugar, sugar, syrup and white sugar. Other types of sugar you might commonly see on ingredient lists are fructose, lactose and maltose. Fructose is sugar derived from fruit and vegetables; lactose is milk sugar; and maltose is sugar that comes from grain.” These are just the common names. According to SFGate, there are even more less common names for sugar.


Processed sugar is just as addictive as cocaine. In one experiment, previously cocaine addicted rats switched to sugar and they were eight times more willing to work for sugar than cocaine. According to the Biology of Food Addiction lecture with Mark Hyman, sugar affects dopamine (the pleasure center in the brain). Cocaine does this exact same thing.


What about sugar found in fruit? Fruits are high in fiber. The fiber slows digestion and promotes stable blood sugar levels. Smoothies usually include the skin of the fruit where most of the fiber is stored. Juices, on the other hand, discard the fiber during the juicing process. According to MindBodyGreen, “Fruits contain various amounts of two simple sugars, glucose and fructose. While pretty much all your cells can utilize glucose as fuel, only your liver can metabolize fructose. This poses a major problem when it comes to your metabolism.” Large amounts of this sugar can show up as the “tire fat” around your waistline. This can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Too much sugar can create insulin resistance. If you’re looking to decrease sugar in general, try grabbing berries when you get that sugar craving and use sweeter sugars as the occasional splurge. You can crowd out sugar by adding sweet vegetables to your diet. Eventually your body will want the sweet vegetables and won’t crave the added sugars found in many of your packaged foods. Try these few tips if you’re trying to avoid added sugars. There will be more on this shortly!

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