According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, addiction is “a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.” We are taught from an early age about the destructive effects such substances have on our bodies both physically and emotionally. Recently, however, there has been much talk about certain foods having similar qualities to heroine or nicotine. As most of you might have guessed, sugar is the number one suspect.
I recently finished a class on carbohydrates and sugars. The reaction I seem to get after eating a sweet desert has made me wonder whether I am a sugar addict or not. I always considered sweets to be one of my “guilty pleasures” but what is the difference between “guilty pleasure” and a full blown addiction? I was musing over these thoughts a week ago while making some herbal tea on my lunch break, when my co worker, Carol, said:
“So I am thinking of going off sugar for a while.”
“Hmm. Interesting. What kind of sugar?” I asked as I licked the honey off my teaspoon.
“All of it! Not just processed sugar but honey, maple syrup, rapadura, stevia, the whole bunch of them. In fact, I am planning to also eliminate all fruit since it contains fructose”.
“Wow!” I exclaimed. “That is very brave”.
“I know it is quite a project but a friend of mine did it for a month and she felt great afterwards and it cleared up her skin.”
When I heard the words “clear skin” I put down my tea and began to pay more attention.
“I know it will be hard but I would like to see if it will help me with some of the health issues I have been struggling with”, said Carol.
Sugar cane is natural. So is the corn from which high corn fructose syrup is made. The difference between sugar in fruit and sugar in high corn fructose corn syrup (or confectioner’s powder or granulated sugar) is that the former is still in its source material and the latter has been refined out of the source material and is devoid of other nutrients. And yes, that makes fruit a little better than sugar, but it’s nothing to get worked out about. Though fruits do contain fiber, minerals, tannins, and other flavionoids,which can function as antioxidants, sweet fruit is mostly sugar. What about honey? Same idea – mostly sugar and very little of anything else. Vitamin C happens to be a type of sugar we can’t make and need to eat, and one orange a day give us most of what we need. But then again, so does a green pepper but without the unneeded damaging sugar. Page 230As I was listening, I involuntarily touched my acne prone forehead that has been such a sensitive, difficult issue for the last couple of months. It seems like I have tried everything: a wholesome diet, filtered water for both showering and drinking, coconut oil, vitamin A, B, C complex, D, E, stress relief exercise, and expensive masks, all to no avail. Yet I hadn’t tried quitting sugar completely. It seemed so daunting and overwhelming. I don’t eat processed sugar, but I do continue to eat quite a bit of fruit, honey, and maple syrup even after reading Dr Kate Shanahan state in Deep Nutrition:
“Hey Carol, can I do it with you?” I asked as I took the chamomile tea bag out of my tea. And this is how our “No Sugar For A Week” campaign began.
Wish me luck!