Sugar is seven times more addicting than cocaine. Sugar produces the same dopamine response as drug addiction. Simply said it produces blood sugar highs and lows. The highs cause excessive energy and excitability, and the lows cause malaise and depressed mood. Before the lows become too low, we find ourselves reaching for our next fix to bring on yet another high, so we can continue to function.
We, as a nation, are constantly stimulating ourselves, throughout the day, with sugar. We are sugar addicts. We drink Coca Cola which has 8 teaspoons of sugar per 12 ounce can. We drink coffee with several teaspoons of sugar added. A Starbucks Grande Mocha Frappachino (16 ounces) has 12 teaspoons of sugar in it. A simple 10 ounce serving of orange juice has 9 teaspoons of sugar. We eat candy and cakes and cookies, all loaded with sugar. A 2 ounce Snickers bar has 8 teaspoons of sugar added. A Cinnabon cinnamon roll has 14 teaspoons of sugar in it. A 1.69 ounce bag of M&Ms has 8 teaspoons of sugar added. A six pack of Oreos has 8 teaspoons of sugar added.
True to addiction, once we have had even a little bit of sugar, we want more. Sudden removal of sugar, from our systems, causes the onset of typical withdrawal symptoms, such as headache, fatigue, irritability, desire for more, and so on.
These same withdrawal symptoms are seen when caffeine, alcohol, prescription drugs and many street drugs are suddenly ceased. Sugar, whose consumption is rarely highly regulated,(except in the case of individuals, who are diabetic and doing something about it, or those who are dieting and knowledgeable about the effect of various food’s glycemic index on the body, or simply those who are highly health conscious), is used numerous times a day by most Americans. Most of the other addictive substances are not as easily attained, nor used as regularly, except perhaps caffeine and cigarettes.
According to Joshua Rosenthal, founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the typical American consumes 130 pounds of sugar and sugar alternatives in a year’s time. Now that is a heck of a lot of sugar. That doesn’t even begin to address the sugar that is naturally found in many of the whole foods we consume, nor the sugar added to many processed and refined foods found in our grocery stores.
According to the Harvard Health Publication, the glycemic index of various foods, such as watermelon (72) bananas (62), apples (39), raisins (64) orange juice, unsweetened (50), as well as, carrots (35), mashed potato (87), sweet potatoe (70) and a slice of wheat bread (71) demonstrates that we are consuming too much sugar within the foods that we eat. The Harvard Health Publication explains that the glycemic index shows the degree to which a certain food raises blood sugar and insulin in the blood. The higher the index which goes from 1 to 100, the more it raises your blood sugar.
John Douillard suggests we need to eat far more non-sugary vegetables to improve our diet! He suggests that perhaps 3/4 rds of our plate should be comprised of non-sugary vegetables.
Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that excessive sugar consumption increases your risk of developing cancer. According to Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, sugar consumption, without increased exercise, causes weight gain, which increases your risk for cancer. Anderson further suggests that women should not eat more than 6 teaspoons of sugar, and men not more than 9 teaspoons of sugar, per day. Imagine how many more teaspoons you consume passively, each day, without even adding sugar, honey, maple syrup or Agave to your food.
So are any of these ideas new to you? Are you surprised how much sugar is in the everyday products we consume? Do you think you are a sugar addict like much of the rest of America? What concerns do you have now about your sugar intake? Is there anything you are prepared to do about it?
Now take out paper and pencil, your tablet or mobile phone and let’s get real about your sugar intake. How much sugar do you think you consume daily? Are you willing to do a little detective work about it? Could you keep a food journal for a week and then look up the amount of teaspoons in each food you ate. Add them up and divide by seven to get an estimate of your daily average.
What do you think about your daily average? Is there anything you want to do about this? What are the consequences for you, should you choose to ignore this information? What are the benefits, should you choose to reduce your sugar intake? Is there anyone else in the household, who could benefit from reducing their sugar intake. Do you think their sugar intake would reduce, if you decided to stop bringing sugary products into the home, and stopped eating things with excessive sugar in them? Is this something you are willing to pursue? How likely on a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being the greatest likelihood, are you to follow through and make this issue a priority in your life?
Best of luck to you and your loved ones, should you decide to make a concerted effort to reduce your sugar intake.
Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
The Wellness Coach at Building Better Bodies Rocks
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, OH
Leap Into Action!
North Coast Region Network for a Healthy California Champions for Change provided the information about the number of teaspoons of sugar referenced in various products.