They say that the first step is admitting it. I am addicted to sugar. I’ve been reflecting on my seeming inability to overcome this addiction. While detoxing I was refined sugar free for over nine days. When I fell off the wagon, I fell hard. I was amazed by my overwhelming cravings for sugar. They seemed almost insatiable. It was if the period of sugar-free living somehow made my cravings worse after I started consuming it again. I’ve come up with every excuse in the book; stress and Easter being the two biggest ones of late! In the end it comes down to a matter of perspective. When I chose to eliminate refined sugar, dairy and gluten as a part of my cleanse this year, I thought of all of those categories in the same way. What I now realise is that I should have approached the elimination of sugar in the same way I approached the elimination of caffeine. If I had thought of it as an addiction my course may have differed. Who knew that the most difficult thing to eliminate would be sugar?
There are advertisements and commercials warning us against the addictive nature of cigarettes, gambling and alcohol. We are told to consume alcohol in moderation for fear of impaired judgement. We believe we should avoid marijuana because it is the gateway drug. If you gamble you could lose your life savings, your house and maybe even your family! But no one ever warned us about sugar. When you think about the financial ramifications you start to understand why. We have entire holidays that are centred around the consumption of refined sugar; Halloween, Valentine’s and Easter are the first that come to mind. We use cute cartoon characters to advertise sugar and fast foods to our children. Young addicts grow up to be adult addicts. What better way to ensure someone will consume your products for the rest of their lives than to get them hooked when they are kids. Most processed and convenience foods have very high amounts of sugar (and salt). There is big money in sugar and that motivates people to keep the addictive nature of it a secret.
So the question remains, is it possible to consume sugar in moderation if you were once an addict? I only ask because most alcoholics never touch a drop again. If they do, they start back at day one. People who quit smoking cigarettes usually don’t smoke again. Our treatment measures for addiction are rooted in avoidance. Is this treatment the only option for a sugar addict? Can you remove it from your diet and consume it infrequently without becoming addicted again? I would like to believe so, but let’s be honest… those are the words of an admitted sugar addict! Perhaps the key is a prolonged period of time without the consumption of sugar. In this way, we start to treat sugar like a food instead of an addictive substance. People who have other food sensitivities, such as dairy or wheat, often find they can incorporate them back into their diets after abstaining for a lengthy period of time. Perhaps that is possible for sugar as well.
Now that Easter and numerous family birthdays are past, I will attempt to cut out refined sugar once again. I’ve done it once, so I know I can do it again. I’m hoping with the temptations of bunny shaped chocolates and delicious birthday cakes behind me that this time will be easier. Only time will tell.