Sugar, The Sweetest Drug

Sugar is a drug. A delicious one, but a drug all the same. Some argue that refined white sugar is the most addictive substance on this planet. You have a little, you want a little more, and than you find yourself needing your daily fix, whether it be in your coffee or tea, soft drink, muffin, breakfast cereal, bread, pasta sauce, salad dressing, fruit juice or after-dinner cookie. Sugar is in everything and we are consuming more than we think.

The average person now consumes roughly 135 pounds of sugar per year. Holy moley! A person’s weight in sugar? Hello obesity epidemic and hello dentist! That’s also a lot if you are one of those people who never add sugar to your food. It’s in our processed food and we don’t even know it.

Now my sweet health-food-loving readers, let’s not think we are all high and mighty as we shake our heads in disbelief and munch down on our honey-sweetened granola sitting in a bowl of cane-sugar sweetened almond milk, topped with apple juice sweetened cranberries and maybe we are washing it back with a carrot/beet/apple juice thinking (now get into a hoity-toity English accent) I don’t eat refined sugar…

Granted, white sugar is more refined than some others, but brown sugar and “sugar in the raw” is not much different. And then we get into the “healthy” sugars. What is your sweetener of choice? Honey? Maple syrup? Molasses? Cane sugar? Date sugar? Beet sugar? Palm sugar? Coconut sugar? Agave?

It’s true that these whole and healthier sugars retain some minerals. I would even argue that some, like molasses and raw honey, could fall into the certifiable health food category. No matter how much mineral content these sugars contain, they are still sugars, and we are still hooked.

We love the taste of sweetness. Sweets are the flavour of the heart. They make us feel good, feel love and often, when we are tired and crave that sweetness, foods that are high in sugar can give us a quick burst of energy. We are so hooked on the sweet taste that there are massive industries built up around this addiction. My take on artificial sweeteners is posted in length here. And then we have the more natural versions like xylitol and stevia. I use stevia on occasion but am still suspect of both for these reasons: 1) I don’t trust foods that start with an ‘X’ as in Xylitol and 2) stevia is a concentrated white powder than comes from a very green leaf. Hi there processed weird, sweet food.

But we like to have our cake and eat it too. I suppose, like all drugs, it simply depends on the level of addiction that we have reached.

Image courtesy of Juan Antonio Capó.

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