Growing up, my grandparents had an old blind shaggy dog called Sugar. I suppose the dog wasn’t always blind, but she is in my memories of the kind of going to hell humor when people would rearrange the coffee table then call the pup to watch her bump into a table leg. Ouch! Sugar had learned to navigate around in her dark world by remembering where everything was at. It was a dirty trick to pull the rug out from under her. And given my selective memory .. I don’t doubt that “I” was part of the cruel intentions as a three year old brat.
There’s something about being lulled into a false sense of safety that still feels sticky to me about that story. It has stayed with me all these years somewhere in the back of my childhood axillary retrospections. When something SAFE turns out to be riddled with land minds. In my experience SUGAR falls into that category. Not the dog, but the white stuff, the drug. The chemical that turns a sane person into an over-weight, depressed, memory impaired time bomb.
In my own personal experience it has been easy for me to spot the danger lurking in my cupboards. Probably because my house was close to a sugar-free sanctuary for so many years, that the notable changes in my online shopping cart when my carnivorous boyfriend joined my life was so striking.
I found myself occasionally taking a sip of his ICE COLD Gatorade … telling my brain that it was the COLD that I liked as the dry heat of a SoCal afternoon was making my brain sweat. I tried making my own version of decaffeinated no-sugar sun tea so that I wouldn’t be tempted to drink the pitcher of “sweet tea” in the fridge. A spoonful of ice-cream here, a taste of mountain dew, a bite of chocolate or a single jelly bean. Oh sure, I still had will power. As a pre-diabetic, I have reactive hypoglycemia and I know what sugar does to my body and I have successfully stayed away from the added sugar drug for a half dozen years.
My witnessing Zen allows me to watch, as the bathroom scale crept up four pounds, and that little voice inside my monkey mind whispered, go ahead add a spoonful of sugar to the marinara sauce (home made Asian ginger salad dressing, potato salad, baked apples, tofu pie, yogurt smoothie . . . get the picture?) Sugar is an addiction. Some say more powerful that tobacco. What makes it so much more dangerous is that its hidden in everything we eat and our multi-mass-unconsious-media presents us with an un-naturally colored world of tempting treats that fuels the fire and keeps our habit going.
We know its wrong and yet we can’t seem to stop ourselves. Not because we are depressed or have low self esteem but because our brains mechanism that screams STOP has been blunted…
“Research has shown that chronic consumption of added sugar dulls the brain’s mechanism for telling you to stop eating. It does so by reducing activity in the brain’s anorexigenic oxytocin system, which is responsible for throwing up the red “full” flag that prevents you from gorging. When oxytocin cells in the brain are blunted by over-consumption of sugar, the flag doesn’t work correctly and you start asking for seconds and thirds, and seeking out snacks at midnight.” Forbes, April 2012
I know what I have to do. And I know what will happen if I don’t. The good thing about sugar withdrawal is that while the first couple of weeks are hell, over time it gets easier and easier to JUST SAY NO. And for most people, its not about taking out all sugars. Things like milk, fruit and some even onions have a high sugar content that doesn’t carry all the toxic payload that “added” sugar (high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose . . .) does when it hits our brain (liver, colon, blood, heart.)
Fact is our brains need sugar so there could be an evolutionary reason why we “think” sweet stuff is safe. We trust our taste-buds. But along the artificial ways of modern times, someone has moved the coffee-cake table and we find ourselves bumping into unexpected consequences from what we considered a sweet friend.
p.s. For my dear sweet children who I know don’t read my blog … accept to see if your name is mentioned …. here’s a link to a report that was on Sixty Minutes. Don’t worry, its only 14 minutes long. I love you, Mom. Sixty Minutes — Is Sugar Toxic, April 2012 Transcript here.