Sugar Addiction

It helps the medicine go down, mix it with spice and all that’s nice and you have a little girl, sugar coat it, get a sugar rush, or have a sugar daddy…. Sugar seems to dominate our lives, so just what is wrong with sugar?

There is no shortage of scientists, doctors, and specialists who opine about the dangers of our sugar addictions. If you are interested in reading the research, simply type ‘sugar addiction’ into an Internet search engine. I won’t bore you with the details of those studies here. Instead, I will share my experience with sugar, and how I continually strive to keep this substance in check. The origins of sugar are entangled with slavery. Sugar cane plantations enslaved millions of people, and for me, this makes the stuff even less palatable. If you are interested in learning the horrid details of how this industry started, just do an Internet search for ‘slavery and sugar’.

It’s been said that humans are born with a sweet tooth. I can relate to that. I don’t remember ever not liking sweet things. But I also know that even if I was born with a sweet tooth, it was further developed by the lifestyle choices of the people that raised me.

Having a celebration? Let’s have sugar.

Having a bad day? Let’s have sugar.

Need a quick breakfast on a school morning? Let’s have sugar.

Need a beverage to go with dinner? Let’s have sugar.

Did you see those pretty, brightly colored packages in the grocery store? Let’s have sugar.

I could go on and on. No wonder I was a complete sugar addict. But it gets worse. I was shocked and angered when I began reading food labels in an effort to educate myself, and clean up my eating. I found sugar in crackers, tortilla chips, pasta sauce, and breads – ummmm these things aren’t meant to be sweet so why are the manufacturers adding sugar?

It was no better when I read the labels of things that I knew were sweet – yogurt, cookies, frozen treats, candy, chocolate, etc. The quantity of sugar in one of these things was often more than I was aiming to consume in a day.

How did I know I was addicted to sugar? As I learned to eat better, I gained more self control. It seemed that my body was getting better nutrition and so I often felt satisfied with less food. But I noticed that if I allowed myself even one muffin or pastry in the morning I just wanted to eat sweets for the rest of the day. The cravings were so strong that I would find myself in front of the vending machine considering my options. Or worse, I would find myself at a store with more sweets in hand. And on those days, the sweetness of an apple, or even dried fruits, would not satisfy my cravings. Sugar just makes me want more sugar.

Does this mean I can never enjoy dessert again? I love to bake and I’m good at it. But baking with refined white flour produces the same results for me. A slice of freshly baked bread won’t satisfy me, I want more. So, for a long time I gave up baking, desserts, candy, and cookies.  Once I had been off of major sugar doses long enough to think clearly, and maintain some self control, I started experimenting with occasional sweet treats. But I found I could no longer enjoy them, they were too sweet.

I’ve heard people say something was too sweet for them, and when sugar had control of me, I honestly could not understand what they meant. Addiction is frightening, doing something that you know will harm you, but you are powerless to make yourself stop. It reminds me of cigarettes, except that this product isn’t regulated. Children are constantly bombarded with ads for sugar and it’s in so many things they consume. Do we even stand a chance?

Some will tell you that honey is better for you than sugar, or agave syrup, or maple syrup, or maybe date sugar. We must each make our own choices. If I use honey in place of brown sugar for cookies they won’t have the taste I expect, I’ll be left unsatisfied, and continue to want whatever my initial craving was. I like to choose foods that have minimal processing, but I don’t want every dessert to taste like maple syrup. I suggest you learn how sweeteners are processed, and which ones work for you. Then, adjust a recipe to accommodate the sweetener you like to use.

So what can I do? How can I make a difference? Well first, I can be honest with myself and the World about my struggles, failures, and successes. If openly sharing my struggles can help one person with their struggles then I am winning. Second, I can use my passion and abilities with food to create, and share, delicious things that are healthful and delicious – foods that satisfy our sweet tooth but don’t contain so much sugar that we overwork our livers when we eat them, foods that contain nutritional, real ingredients, so we don’t consume an entire batch of cookies and still feel like we need something, and lastly, foods that are balanced.

I’ve started with a line of dessert recipes called ‘Slightly Sweet’. Many of these recipes will make a tiny batch – 6 cookies or one 4” cake. Because I don’t know about you, but I don’t need 36 freshly baked cookies on my counter. I might want a few cookies one day, but I don’t want them everyday for two weeks. And yes, some things can be frozen to enjoy again later. But for me, this is not a good option. There is always the chance that I will over indulge and if I eat a dessert everyday my sugar addiction is fueled, not controlled.

Slightly Sweet Desserts have minimal sugar. If you try one, and it just doesn’t work for you, then increase the amount of sugar. You’ll also notice that most of my recipes, both savory and sweet, do not contain salt. For savory foods I prefer spices over sodium, and for desserts I will only use it if it’s needed to balance the flavor.

I encourage you to share your opinions and struggles, and by all means – Release YOUR Bonus Vivant and Savor Your Life!