It’s funny, when I first started contemplating giving up all/most wheat (and sugar) in winter 2012, I thought giving up wheat/grains would be the harder part. I LOVED grains, in all formats! Put warm, buttered bread (especially sour dough) next to a plate of cookies, and I’d go for the bread every time. Crackers (I went through a box of Wheat Thins a week, all by myself!), potato chips or tortilla chips and dip, toasted bagels for breakfast 6 days a week (Bruegers, sorry I’m not a customer anymore)….pasta, hamburger buns…you name it. I was a real grain junkie.
Turns out, in the long run, giving up grains was pretty easy for me, once I read up on the subject of modern day wheat, and it’s real, scientific detriment to us. (if you haven’t already, I highly suggest the books Wheat Belly by Dr. Davis and The End of Overeating my Dr. Kessler.) Yep, I dropped kicked all grains to the curb REALLY easily, on my 2nd try. (the first try got derailed because I think subconsciously I wasn’t yet 100% convinced it was a healthy thing to do. ‘whole grain products’ has been SO ingrained in us from the medical community, let alone big Agra and other mega companies. But I digress…) Oddly enough, giving up sugar has been the tougher part. I guess I was more addicted to sugar than I thought. During the first 2 years of maintenance (I’m now in month 15)….sugar has been the remaining culprit. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not bad. I seem to still be hovering in a healthy BMI weight of 132-134. But I sincerely want to return to the high to mid 120’s I was the first half of this year, and sugar has been the culprit, not grains.
It just goes to show how strongly the sugar addiction is ingrained in us! How insidious it is! I don’t eat much sugar, but when I get stressed, I still have to really put my mind to work to stop the knee-jerk reaction to stress with sugar in some format. I still need to read my mantra (see my side bar) most days. The days I don’t read it, I’m not as mentally prepared. Don’t get me wrong, though! MOST days, like 90-95% of them….sugar isn’t a concern at all. Stress isn’t at an intolerable, ‘must medicate’ level. I breeze through the day, happy as a clam, ‘in the zone.’ But when the occasional shitty thing happens, I still want to knee-jerk react with some small form of sugar. I still haven’t entirely broken the addiction. 95% of the time I have. Stress still gets me. I’m still working on that aspect.
So I sought out more on it today. I started googling ‘the psychology of obesity.’ Then ‘sugar addiction.’ I found a GREAT article, from just last week, that I want to share.
America’s sugar addiction: Just how bad is it?
As the United States’ first tax on sugary drinks goes into effect in California, here’s a look at the facts and figures for America’s love affair with sugar
• More than one-third of Americans are currently obese, including 17 per cent of children.
• Type 2 diabetes diagnoses have increased tenfold in the last thirty years.
• America now spends over $190bn (£121bn) annually treating diseases which are tied directly to obesity.
While a number of factors have contributed to these worrying trends, health advocates and policymakers are now focusing on one culprit: sugar.
Berkeley, California recently became the first US city to enact a tax on sugary drinks, while larger cities such as New York and San Francisco have debated similar measures.
Americans don’t like the government dictating their diets, and the US surely won’t come down from its sugar high overnight, but there are significant costs associated with America’s addiction to sugar.
And Britain isn’t far behind.
Fizzy drink fanatics…
Americans consume more fizzy drinks per capita than any other country on earth, and super-size sodas are contributing to America’s equally enlarged rates of diabetes and other diseases.
• A typical American child has, on average, 8 ounces of fizzy drinks per day. Those rates increase significantly among adolescents. Having one sugar sweetened beverage per day increases an individual’s risk of both diabetes and heart disease by upwards of 25 per cent.
• The average American purchases 170 litres of fizzy drinks per year, more than twice as much as a typical Brit.
• Drinking more sugar calories does not significantly reduce sugar consumption elsewhere in the diet. Sugar dissolved into fizzy drinks reduces an individual’s appetite only 1/7 as much as solid sugar.
Whole wheat toast, hold the sugar…
It’s not just fizzy drinks that have led to skyrocketing sugar consumption rates.
• Beginning in the 1970’s America waged a “war on fat”, which led to food producers cutting fat content and – you guessed it– sprinkling in some sugar.
• From whole wheat bread to soy milk and nearly everything in between, over 80 per cent of American processed foods now contain added sugar.
• According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a typical American now consumes roughly 120lbs of sugar per year. That’s approximately 50 per cent more than in 1950.
A costly habit…
• The obesity rate in America has more than doubled since the 1980’s amongst adults, and tripled amongst children.
• Seven per cent of Americans now have some form of diabetes, while an American is ten times more likely today to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than ten years ago.
• According to one estimate, America now spends approximately $190 million (£121million) annually to treat diseases directly linked with obesity. That’s more than the entire gross domestic product of New Zealand.
And Britain’s addicted too…
• Two-thirds of Brits are considered overweight, with one in four classified as obese. Among Western European countries, only Iceland and Malta have higher proportions of overweight individuals.
• One in five children aged 4-5 and one in three children aged 10-11 are overweight or obese
• British teens get 15.6 per cent of their food energy from sugar, that’s three times the recommended amount.
Despite these staggering statistics, we continue to consume more sugar than ever.
So far it doesn’t seem to be working, but if Berkeley’s “soda tax” experiment catches on in the US, it may just come to Britain next.
The data is just STAGGERING, isn’t it?
But I can attest that sugar addiction is SO insidious. We want to believe in ‘moderation’, but for many of us, we find it’s really impossible. Yet we also have to juggle the realities of ‘deprivation mode’….but then we learn that deprivation mode thinking is just another aspect of ADDICTION. Talk about insidious! We really can mind-game ourselves into a corner, when we are addicted, can’t we?
I don’t know about you, but I feel I’m just scratching the surface on learning about sugar addiction, the mind games we play on ourselves because of it, and how to continue to educate ourselves, so we can combat/control these addictions.
It has become my new personal mission for MYSELF to read all that I can on the topic!! Now, here’s a disclaimer. In the last couple of years, I’ve gotten really turned off to non-fiction reading. If I’m going to research, I prefer to do it online. Non-fiction books are like homework assignments to me. No fun. I MUCH prefer to read for pleasure. That said, the two things that most drastically altered my life course in the past 4-5 years, have been the two books I mentioned above. Both non-fictions.
So, right here, right NOW, before all of you. I am promising to you and to myself that I’m going to become an expert on sugar addiction (science.) I’m going to read all I can get my hands on, on the subject. I do have to tread lightly, though. I’ve already seen a few promising books that denigrated pretty quickly for me, because they are still pushing ‘healthy whole (wheat) grains.’ Yeah, no. Not going to work for me. So I will have to do more than a cursory research on the author/his/her ideas, before I purchase their book. Because wheat is still a non-negotiable for me, (other than my 4 onion rings 1-2 times a month and 2 tablespoons of Ranch dressing 1-2 times a week.) (those trigger nothing. I think. But I’m going to start journaling on that, just to make sure. A sidebar new n = 1 project for me.)
BUT, I am officially committing to going FULL BORE, HARD CORE to educating myself even further against sugar addiction. It’s the one bugaboo left in my nutritional status. The only thing left that occasionally derails me. I’m not sure why I’m not as diametrically opposed to sugar as I am wheat, but that is where I want to be, and I’m no longer going to be passive about my resistance. I’m going to go out, read all that I can, educate myself, and become as super passionate against sugar as I am against wheat!!!
HELL YES I AM.
So, that’s where I stand. Where are you, re sugar? Could you stand to be a little better at resisting it too? Forewarning; as I learn, I’m going to share here. This blog is going full bore ahead at kicking sugar to the curb by full on education. Hope you’re game!