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Sugar's Not-So-Sweet Side

Sugar's Not-So-Sweet Side

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Michelle Pfennighaus | Excelle

May 11, 2009

Cakes. Candy. Ice Cream. Or my favorite — cookies. Isn’t it amazing how sometimes we just get a hankering for something sweet? Something chocolatey or creamy but definitely something sugary?

In addition to midday cravings, my special time of day was always at night after dinner. Growing up, this was the time that my mom and I would talk, drink tea and enjoy some cookies. My favorites were Chips Ahoy or Oreos. They still are!

I kept with that routine of after-dinner tea and cookies long after I moved out of my mom’s house. It was a nice, comforting ritual. But I was eating half a box of cookies each night. No kidding! It was as if I couldn’t get enough. I didn’t see this as a problem. After all, cookies were a treat to myself for a hard day.

In my work as a health counselor, I hear stories like this all the time. For me, it was cookies. For one of my clients, it is frozen yogurt or chocolate-covered pretzels. Almost everyone admits that in the absence of their favorite treat, they’ll “make do” with straight chocolate chips or a sugary drink or crackers with jelly. Everyone needs their fix!

So, do you have a sweet tooth? Probably. Americans have teeth — no, scratch that — we have entire bodies made of sweets. You are what you eat, right?

Not long ago I had a body made of Double Stuf Oreos and mocha lattes. I didn’t make the connection then, but I can tell you now that my Oreo-latte body felt tired, anxious and weak. I was often napping on the couch or dealing with my IBS. I had a lot of trouble calming down and having satisfying relationships.

Now that I know better, I can see that I needed a sugar smackdown!

Sugar is a highly refined substance. (I’m talking about white sugar here, not the stuff naturally found in apples or oranges.) Sugar as a processed product is big business, along with all of its cousins — brown sugar, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, and evaporated cane juice to name a few.

Every sugar I just named is a highly powerful substance, marketed to us in millions of ways. Sugar has the ability to lift us up, make us feel good and silly, give us energy and bring a smile to our face.

Inevitably, the lift is followed by a fall. Our mood and energy plummet. As a refined substance, our body cannot digest sugar without pulling minerals from our bodies’ reserves. Therefore, each cookie or candy weakens the body in a very direct way.

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