Sugar is perhaps one of the most common ingredient in all of our food intake. From our meals to the beverages we drink, sugar is almost always present. For years, health enthusiasts have campaigned against the excessive use of sugar, citing the many ill effects it has on ones health. The sad truth however, is that sugar has become so common an ingredient in all that we eat or drink that taking it off ones diet or even decreasing its intake proves to be a feat. Unknown to many, a lot of us have already been a slave to sweet taste of sugar. Found below is a simple challenge that you can take to know if you are a sugar junkie.
To clearly understand the test let us first define some terms:
Sugar- for this test, let us define sugar as the white or brown granules of sweetness we call “refined sugar”. Usually derived from either sugar canes or sugar beet, these are found in almost all homes.
Sugars- This term in plural usually is used to denote a group of carbohydrates naturally found in food like sucrose, glucose and fructose. These simple carbohydrates are usually noted with an “a” such as “a sugar”.
Now that we are clear on the definition, Let us start the test. The challenge is to completely avoid the consumption of sugar (or refined sugar) in 72 hours.
Step 1: Stop or avoid any direct use of refined sugar on your coffee, beverages or food you prepare in your home. This is the easier part of the test.
Step 2: Check the ingredients list of anything you consume. If you see “sugar” listed, this refers to refined sugar and must be avoided. A mention of sugars and carbohydrates on a nutrition fact table does not mean a product is to be avoided unless “sugar” is found on the ingredients list.
Examples of products that you would have to avoid for the next few days for the test include:
- Dole diced peaches in light syrup: 1 small serving cup = 18 grams sugar
- Jell-O Instant Vanilla, Chocolate Chip, or Cookies and Creme Pudding: 1 serving as packaged (not including milk) = 21 grams sugar
- Weight Watchers Blueberry Muffins or Double Chocolate Muffins: 1 muffin (2.2 ounces) = 18-21 grams sugar,
- Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars (all flavors): 1 bar = 12 grams sugar
- Kellogg’s Smart Start Strong Heart, Toasted Oat: 1 1/4 cup = 17 grams sugar
- Nesquick Fat Free Chocolate Milk: 16 ounces = 54 grams sugar
From the list above, one can see that even healthy sounding products often contain sugar. If you are eating out, be sure to request the absence of sugar on your food.
There are several things that will make this test hard for many. First, there is the difficulty in finding products or food items that are devoid of sugar. Most of the food we buy from groceries, from barbecue sauces to juice drinks all contain sugar.Then there is that noticeable difference in taste for food without sugar. Your drinks, as well as your food will definitely taste different as your taste buds will look for the sweet taste that adds to our food’s flavor. Lastly, there will come after a day or two, a form of craving. Remember those times when you feel like you have to eat something sweet? Well, it will be amplified this time since you are going to go cold turkey and you are aware of your sugar deprivation.
If you made it past 72 hours without sugar, then we congratulate you. We challenge you to extend the 3 days to a few weeks. If you can do this, you are clearly not that hooked. Most of those who take the test, will, like us, find it very difficult to get through the 72 hours.
So what does this test prove?
Are you an Addict?
Let us look at a definition given by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Addiction: a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.
A lot of us will definitely say “But I don’t have that compulsive need for it.” However, one will only need to take the test to actually know how dependent one is to substances or food with sugar. Using a teaspoon one will be surprised when one tries to visualize just how 15, or 35 or 60 grams of sugar look . From the definition above, we can also see why the test is relevant in testing addiction. By avoiding sugar, we can evaluate ourselves to see how we will be affected upon withdrawal from it.
Given that it is a fact that sugar is in almost all food, it is also safe to argue that much use of it does not necessarily mean addiction. As an example, we eat, drink and breathe to live and the regularity by which we take these and the dependence of our existence on these does not mean we are addicted to it. However, unlike food or air or water, sugar is not really something that will kill us if we avoid it. On the contrary, many studies have associated it to various ailments classifying it as a harmful substance.
Since sugar is a harmful substance it is good to consider another definition of addiction:
Addiction: Any behavior that you continue to engage in despite the negative consequences that the behavior leaves in its wake.
The Society of Neuroscience actually did a study close to a decade ago suggesting that “sweets may activate a similar biochemical system of incentives and rewards that leads to addiction of substances like heroin and other opiates in the brain.” It is for this reason why many of us suffer the craving for sugar once we try to avoid it. Like addicts who can never shake off the highs they once felt with the drugs they are taking, we also suffer the same feeling of something lacking once we kick the sweet habit. An episode of the Simpsons called “Sweets and Sour Marge” effectively did a parody on how sugar is a major part of all our consumption and how everybody has formed varying forms of dependence on it.
The good news for us is that there exists today several healthier alternative sweeteners that can take sugar’s place. Sugar replacement like honey, or agave nectar are being used by health enthusiasts, cooks and moms to get the sweet delicious taste in their food without the harmful effects. When all is said and done hoewever, one’s best course is to decrease if not avoid the use of refined sugar completely.
So, are you a sugar addict? Send us an email to find out how you can get out of the habit.