Saturday, March 9, 2013

Are you really addicted to sugar?

{Photo published on web here}
Am I addicted to sugar?

Some of my favorite sugary foods are: chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolate, chocolate anything, banana pancakes, frosted flakes, and Baily's Irish Coffee Creamer (the non-alcoholic kind).

A popular diet fad going on these days is the sugar detox. The multi-billion dollar diet industry is saying that if you crave sugary foods and eat them every day, you are "addicted" to sugar.

So let's stop and think about this... Do I eat some of my favorite sugary foods every day? Most likely. Then, am I addicted? No, technically not. Do I sometimes want ice cream, cookies, or sweets? Yes. Am I addicted? Still No.

I want to bring up a discussion on a linguistics error that I know is causing a lot of problems.

People frequently use the word "addicted" to talk about eating sugar in this way.

If you ate spoonfuls of sugar for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and you couldn't stop yourself, then, yes, I recommend that you get some help.

[Please read before continuing on:] There many different types of eating disorders that are very real disorders. If you struggle with any kind of disordered eating, it is very important to get professional help. If you want to read more about binge eating disorder or any other type of eating disorder, stop by the blog “Weightless” and read about it here.

Are you really worried about being "addicted" to sugar? Eating a dessert after dinner, a cookie for a snack, or pop-tarts for breakfast is NOT this terrible thing that we have made it out to be.

I don't know all the facts about the human body and sugar.  I DO know, however, that, in the medical field, we have NOT figured out all the science yet.  I also know that every one is different.  Certain foods effect certain people and not others.

I publicly admit that I am not upset about being "addicted" to sugar by society’s standards.

This is my perspective; I am not upset that I am "addicted" to breathing or eating either.

It's the word "addicted" that gets people’s feathers ruffled. It is the word “addicted” that has the negative connotation. It’s a similar language problem that occurs with the word “love”. I love my husband, Craig. I love pepperoni pizza. In those two sentences, I used the same verb and yet I meant them to have COMPLETELY different meanings.

What if I told you that "I am addicted to sleeping”. My comment comes across as if I am doing something bad. Yet, getting enough sleep each night is an important part of staying healthy. I don’t think we have mastered the difference in the word “addicted” as we have done with the word “love”.

If I say that I am addicted to sugar, you'll think that sugar is a bad thing and must, therefore, be avoided at all costs. You might think that I am trying to give it up if I talk about sugar in that way.

You have to admit that you cannot compare the repercussions of being addicted to sugar to being addicted to crack cocaine or any other hard drug. Yet, we still talk about food as being capable of ensnaring us in the clutches of addiction.

So often I have heard people talk about their sugar addictions. When they talk about it, they act as ashamed as someone who is trying to quit smoking. How did food end up being as difficult to quit as nicotine?

Let me remind you that a cookie is still food. It may contain sugar and other substances that have been labeled “dangerous” and“avoid”. But it is still food. If cookies were the only food left in the world, most would survive just fine. Unless you have a legit allergy, of course.  No starving child in Africa would turn down a cookie because it has too many carbs or too much refined sugar.

It is completely irrational to talk about food as being“addictive”. Of course food is addicting. We need to eat in order to live!

If we talk about food as being “addictive”, (yes, even sugar) we start to believe that it is bad. But food is NOT bad. We throw around the term “addicted”carelessly. We have to be careful when and how we use that word. Our children are going to grow up very confused about the differences of being addicted to sugar and being addicted to crack cocaine.

I am getting too fired up. Do you want to hear a funny story? Sure you do!

So, I am addicted to Calendula. (Again, throwing around the word “addicted” very loosely) If you’ve never heard of Calendula, it is a natural ointment with similar qualities like Vaseline. I use it like Chap Stick. I have a small container of the miracle stuff in my pocket or purse at all times. My grandma introduced it to me in the second grade (if you saw my school picture from that year you’d know why) and I have been using it ever since.

My husband and I joke about my obsession and call Calendula my“crack”...all in good fun. Before we go somewhere, I am often quoted saying, “I just have to get my crack and I will be ready to go.” I don’t remember how it started but it stuck.

I am caught without my “crack” on rare occasions. One of those times happened to occur last summer. On very short notice, I was admitted to the behavioral health hospital for clinical depression. I didn’t have time to prepare an overnight bag or anything. Among other more important items, I left my Calendula at home. My husband was able to bring me some things the next day. He asked if I needed him to bring me my crack. I looked around to make sure no one heard, since I was in a mental hospital after all. I told him, “You might not want to say that around here.” We had a good laugh about it. It was a much needed comic relief at the time. Again proving my point, laughter is such a powerful medicine.

Lesson learned: Be careful how you throw around the word "crack". I mean.......Be careful how you throw around the word “addicted”.

More important are our actions than words, so be careful how you relate to food.  Always remember that there are real addictions out there. Remember that food is not inherently bad. Food is NOT the enemy.  It’s okay to eat sugary foods sometimes.  Just remember to thank God for His gift and ask Him to bless your food before you eat it.

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