Sugar is a mood-altering substance

For birthdays, anniversaries, job promotions, graduations, and so many more, it’s just not a celebration without sweets. Cake, cookies, ice cream — for many of us, they’re the biggest appeal of the event.

That’s because sugar is a mood-altering substance.

True, most often that phrase is pinned on corrosive substances such as heroin, cocaine, tobacco, and alcohol. Only a radical, a killjoy, or worse would apply it to such a cause of merriment and enjoyment, right?

If that's what you think, that’s some good information for you, about you and your outlook. But especially during Sugar Awareness Week, please hear me out.

Consider these four plants: the poppy, coca, wheat, and beets. Humans, ingenuitive as we are, have devised processes that break down them down, discarding some parts — including the fiber, in all cases — thereby intensifying what’s left into whitish powders: heroin, cocaine, flour, and sugar.

I’m not suggesting that all four produce the same intensity of effect, any more than I’m saying that heroin and cocaine produce the same effect. They and the others — including sugar and flour deriving from other plants, such as cane or agave, rye or barley — are on a continuum of bodily effects.

Skeptics, by now, are outraged and/or dismissive. It’s as if I’m attacking motherhood or apple pie — which, without sugar and flour, is just apples, and no one has ever put reverence to them on the same level as dear old mom.

But try this on: Imagine your next party, identical in every way to your last except the treats have been replaced by, say, fresh fruit, or a beautifully composed, brilliantly colorful salad.

Yeah right, right? Who would think that was fun at all?!

I’m not suggesting anyone should celebrate with salad; I’m illustrating that, to many, sweets are intimately tied to event success, and their inclusion is a given. Compare it to how people who drink would compare their last successful party with the one oiled by sarsaparilla and soda.

It isn’t wrong to have emotional connection to substances. But the stronger the tug, the more useful it is to recognize it and to consider what you can learn from it.


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