I don't drink. I don't smoke. I have never used illegal drugs. Come to think of it I don't think I have ever even taken a prescription drug (Pretty sure Tylenol is the extent of drug use). But I absolutely, positively have an addiction (which I like to think I have kicked). MY DRUG OF CHOICE IS SUGAR!
Just like many other drugs on the market, a natural plant is taken, altered in some form or fashion, and the resulting product has serious effects on the body (and mind and spirit in many instances). Cocaine comes from the leaf of a coca leaf. Heroin comes from the poppy flower. Sugar comes from sugar cane. It's not the plants but the PROCESSING of the plants that creates the intense imbalances within the body. (With the current labeling laws, these could all be labeled "ALL NATURAL".)
Sugar is my crack. If I want to feel really happy really quickly a few bites of a delicious pastry will do the trick. In fact just this week I ate what I dubbed "the most delicious sugar cookie I have ever had". It had been awhile since I had such a large does of my favorite drug and I was in awe at how quickly I felt so HAPPY. Ahh yes, the sweet "high" of sugar running through my veins. Is this how other drugs work? One study says that sugar is even more addictive than cocaine. Another study links sugar cravings with alcoholic tendencies (which happens to run quite strongly in my family).
But just as quickly as this sweet little substances has lifted be up, up, up, it sends me crashing down, down, down at highway racing speeds. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if my starting point and ending point were the same. But that is SO not the case. Oh how those crashes suck. I feel tired, lethargic, sucked of energy, "jonesing" for another fix. Soon I want nothing more than a little cat nap (or a long snooze depending on dosage). The next day isn't quite different. The thought of working out is tiresome (something I usually eagerly await). Sometimes the headaches set it. My moods are different and I am moving at a slower pace. Interestingly enough, all of these go away with just a little more sugar. Even an after dinner mint can take the edge off. Just a little sugar everyday and I never have to get off the rush. There were periods of time when I would stays on these "highs" for weeks, months and even years. Just a little sugar everyday did the trick. Yummy cereals for breakfast, fantastic salad dressings a lunch, and a little treat after dinner. Candidates seemed to step right up to help me stay on course! Cheap...easy...and harmless to no one right?
* Sugar can suppress the immune system.
* Sugar can upset the body's mineral balance.
* Sugar can contribute to hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, concentration difficulties, and crankiness in children.
* Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.
* Sugar can cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children.
* Sugar can reduce helpful high density cholesterol (HDLs).
* Sugar can promote an elevation of harmful cholesterol (LDLs).
* Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
* Sugar contributes to a weakened defense against bacterial infection.
* Sugar can cause kidney damage.
* Sugar can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
* Sugar may lead to chromium deficiency.
* Sugar can cause copper deficiency.
* Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
* Sugar can increase fasting levels of blood glucose.
* Sugar can promote tooth decay.
* Sugar can produce an acidic stomach.
* Sugar can raise adrenaline levels in children.
* Sugar can lead to periodontal disease.
* Sugar can speed the aging process, causing wrinkles and grey hair.
* Sugar can increase total cholesterol.
* Sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity.
* High intake of sugar increases the risk of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
* Sugar can contribute to diabetes.
* Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
* Sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity.
* Sugar leads to decreased glucose tolerance.
* Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.
* Sugar can increase systolic blood pressure.
* Sugar causes food allergies.
* Sugar can cause free radical formation in the bloodstream.
* Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.
* Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
* Sugar can overstress the pancreas, causing damage.
* Sugar can cause atherosclerosis.
* Sugar can compromise the lining of the capillaries.
* Sugar can cause liver cells to divide, increasing the size of the liver.
* Sugar can increase the amount of fat in the liver.
* Sugar can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney.
* Sugar can cause depression.
* Sugar can increase the body's fluid retention.
* Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance.
* Sugar can cause hypertension.
* Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.
* Sugar can cause an increase in delta, alpha and theta brain waves, which can alter the mind's ability to think clearly.
* Sugar can increase blood platelet adhesiveness which increases risk of blood clots and strokes.
* Sugar can increase insulin responses in those consuming high-sugar diets compared to low sugar diets.
* Sugar increases bacterial fermentation in the colon.
I recently found an old food journal where I had written the following:
REASONS I DON'T WANT TO EAT SUGAR
1) It tastes great while I am eating it, but in about 30 minutes I feel sick to my stomach.
2) I feel like I have NO energy and just want to go to sleep (I HATE feeling like this).
3) It's bad for my skin and causes wrinkles.
4) It makes me gain weight, particularly around my waist (the abdomen area is insulin sensitive and so Excess Insulin Released= Fat Stored here)
5) I can RARELY eat only a small portion (I figure if I allow myself a little I might as well have a lot. I'm really just trying to get a big "fix").
6) It's not worth those few moments of satisfaction.
7) Eating sugar is not conducive to my long-term goals!
I am not saying that I will never have another treat. But I am currently trying to find alternatives for my sweet tooth. Artificial sweeteners are NOT an alternative (here's why). Honey, Brown sugar, evaporated cane juice and high fructose corn syrup all seem to have similar effects on my body. I currently like a little stevia in my tea and dates in my baking. In Alicia Silverstone's new book "The Kind Diet", she recommends brown rice syrup and maple syrup as her preferred sweeteners. I still love having my "treats", but I am now experimenting with natural foods that leave me feeling happy (not articially happy from a chemical reaction) and satisfied. Keep checking back to our recipes for more version of healthy "treats". I am on a quest to find some good ones!!!