Sugar Addiction: America’s New Epidemic?


Hi, my name is Caroline, and I’m an addict.

You too may also be an addict, a sugar addict! Wipe that astonished look off your face. Sugar addiction is a real and dangerous issue.  Sugar invades and dominates almost all of our food nowadays, and it’s hard to get weaned off this drug.

So why is it hard to separate from the “sugar drug?” Simple, our body builds sugar tolerance, which eventually leads to eating more sugary foods over time. When sugar enters our bodies, it causes a spike in our insulin levels. Insulin is an important chemical in our bodies; it’s the hormone that eats sugar up for all practical purposes.  The release of insulin in our bodies causes the quintessential “sugar high,” or sudden surge of energy.

However, when we constantly eat sugar, we create too much insulin! The excess insulin makes our bodies crash and we feel tired and sluggish. The leftover insulin needs something to eat. So what does it do? It tells your brain that you need more sugar. Sound familiar? It’s the same exact vicious cycle as any other drug. Heroine, cocaine, nicotine, you name it; they all have the same cycle.

Sugar addiction could have the potential to be a major issue for Americans. One of the reasons for this is sugar’s abundance in our daily diet. Almost everything we eat has sugar in it! Even if you follow a completely clean, organic diet, you still may consume unhealthy amounts of sugar. However, for the majority of us who do not eat organic, un-processed food, sugar is a real issue.

Food companies want us to be loyal customers. So in order to do this, they spend a lot of money on market research to find out what appeals to our palate. The answer they normally get is an increase of sugar and salt.

Just like sugar, sodium is a substance to which our bodies can create a tolerance for. Once you start consuming these two, you need to increase your intake in order to have the same delectable experience. If eventually you keep your intake at a standstill, your taste buds will not be able to sense the sugar or salt and your food will taste bland.  Food companies don’t want their food described as bland. So they are continuously creating ways of putting more sugar and more salt into food.

If you were to pick up any item and look at the nutrition facts, you might be surprised to learn just how much sugar is in it.  For example, take Raisin Bran Crunch. One of my favorite cereals, I always thought it was healthy; I mean it’s got raisins and bran. Nevertheless, upon a closer inspection of the nutrition facts, I discovered that this lovely cereal is 30 percent sugar. A whole third of the damn thing is made of sugar! I believe it’s all a conspiracy to harm our money and our bodies in the process.

Too much sugar is dangerous for us! Sugar is one of the culprits for many diseases that could be easily avoided by simply reducing our intake of the stuff.  From diabetes to heart disease, the results of too much sugar could lead to strokes, cancer, kidney disease, depression, anxiety and panic attacks, mineral deficiencies, hypoglycemia, increased cholesterol levels, loads of acne and, my favorite, irritability.

The health risks associated with sugar are so vast that it would be impossible to list them all, but the most prominent one affecting our society today is type 2 diabetes. What’s it set off by? You guessed it, none other than our sugar intake.

As you can see, bombarding our bodies with sugar wrecks our insulin levels. When we continually produce too much insulin, our bodies slowly learn not to produce as much insulin as before. However, this backfires on our bodies because we reach a point where our bodies do not produce enough insulin to handle the sugar loads we feed it.

This insulin deficiency is the cause of type 2 diabetes.  The pancreas gets screwed, as we can no longer regulate blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is considered a new epidemic by the American pediatric Association, with a rise in cases by 33 percent in recent years. “In 1992, it was rare for most pediatric centers to have patients with type 2 diabetes… by 1999, it accounted for 8–45 percent of new cases,” according to the Diabetes Journal.

Still not convinced that you’re an addict? Just monitor your selections of foods and look at the sugar percentage. Not the sugar percentage for your daily value, but rather divide the total grams in the product by the grams of sugar in it to get the percentage of the product that is solely sugar. You might find yourself surprised, appalled or even horrified.  How often do you reach for products that are more than 10 percent sugar? See! We are all sugar addicts.

Time to kick the habit, you say? Unfortunately, they have not invented a sugar rehab just yet. You have two options to get yourself clean. Like any addiction, you can opt to go cold turkey and just give it up as a whole. Or you can slowly come off it. To go cold turkey, realize that the first three days are truly the hardest. Your body will crave so much sugar you will go crazy. Trust me, I’ve done it, and crazy I went. The easier method is to wean yourself off sugar slowly. Reduce your daily sugar intake slowly over the period of a few weeks. Bring the number of sodas you drink down. Skip the donut and have eggs for breakfast instead.

After coming off my sugar addiction twice (yes twice, because the stuff has a very high relapse rate), I can honestly tell you that the best thing you can do while coming of it is to feed your body wholesome food. Avoid simple carbs, such as white flour products (like that croissant you are dreaming of right now) and avoid salty foods.

Eating salty foods offsets the incorrect signal that we then want sugar, or something sweet to balance the salt. In reality, what your body is asking for is water. Stay away from those two. Up your water intake to eight glasses a day, and yes, eat your veggies in order to feel full. The fiber in them will deter you from seeking a sugary snack when hunger strikes. From there on, you will just need a heck of a lot of will power and motivation. I wish you all good luck on your endeavors, should you decide you want to cut back your sugar intake and live a healthy life.