No, I am not talking about illicit drugs. I'm talking about sugar. Though sugar is not illegal like the white powder & rocks you may have assumed I was talking about, it is amazingly as addictive.
Amy Kubal (@AmykRd) calls it "crack." Dallas & Melissa Hartwig (@whole9life) call sugar a "demon" that "bombs" your weakened gut system. Dr. Robert Lustig acknowledges that "sugar is as addictive as cocaine" because of it's dopamine-enducing euphoric effect (NY Daily News report by Lindsay Goldwert). And the tidal-wave of evidence against sugar consumption threatens to sweep us away. Some just stand there amazed at the sight and feel powerless against it. Others try moving to higher ground to escape the overwhelming flood.
And it's hard to escape! It comes in many forms and seems to be in everything. Just pick up a package of anything, read the ingredients, and you are bound to come across sugar in one form or another:-The Demonized High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
-Apple Juice Concentrate
And even when we pick up a "healthier" choice, sometimes we lean toward the things with concentrated sugars--the "sugar rocks": Raisins, Dried Cranberries, and Dates (yes, I have my occasional date with dates in our pantry...shocking!)
All of this adds up to an average American consumption of "a third of a pound of sugar every day--130 pounds a year" (Goldwert). Amazing!
So what do we do if we want to escape this sweet tidal wave? There are options, but each one requires self-control, sacrifice, and hard work. But if you are not afraid of these three things, there is a high likelihood that you can save yourself from being swept away. Here are a few options:
1) Hardcore, Cold Turkey: Get it out of your house; yes, throw that hard-earned money into the garbage. Go to the grocery store and read labels. Stay on the out-skirts of the store. Buy meat, veggies, nuts, & fruit that fill you up on the nutrients that matter most.
2) Detox: There are programs out there that work on the philosophy that it takes a minimum of 21 days to break bad habits and establish better ones. That's why there are successful programs like the Whole30 & the 21-Day Sugar Detox. Another reason these work for some people is because of the power of the collective: when a group of people act together, it is easier to accomplish the goal. In fact, today marks the beginning of the 21DSD hosted by Diane Sanfillipo (@balancedbites). If action is in your plans today, check out the program here or by clicking on the 21DSD to the right.
3) The Gradual Ween: Decrease your intake of sugars slowly over time with the hopes of eliminating a large chunk of it by a certain time. Some think this works, others do not. Some see it as a gentler way of learning a new habit; others see it as a crutch. The main point here is that you have to find out what works for you.
So in the name of establishing a healthier lifestyle, consider moving to higher ground to escape the flood of the sugar tidal wave. I went pretty hardcore, cold turkey after being diagnosed with high blood pressure. Every day that I look in the mirror, I see the benefits of this choice. And if you'd like to know more about my progress, read about it on this post ("Progress").
It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig
Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfillipo
The 21-Day Sugar Detox: Bust Sugar & Carb Cravings Naturally by Diane Sanfillipo (Advance Order)