food addiction

Sweetness, beyond refined sugar

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Another in a series of posts dedicated to Blog-a-Thon To End Sugar Addiction, which started Tuesday and ends on Monday, Halloween Day, perhaps America foremost sugar-driven holiday.

One reason I know that refined sugar is a problem for me, but not my foremost food problem, is that the very first step I took toward the defined food plan that I follow today was to give it up. That was almost 25 years ago, triggered by a suggestion from someone I knew briefly and whose name I long ago forgot.

"Sugar addiction": What's in a name?

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This is the first of several posts I’m planning as part of the “Blog-a-Thon To End Sugar Addiction,” which started Tuesday and ends on Monday, Halloween Day, perhaps America foremost sugar-driven holiday. 

I’ve often remarked that “food addiction” is a misnomer that does not serve the very real condition it describes, and I’d say the same thing for “sugar addiction.”

In the former case, the problem is that no one argues that all food is, or can be, addictive. And so, I’ve said, a more descriptive (which not to say “better”) — would be “some-food” addiction. I don’t know any two addicts whose list of problem foods is exactly the same, though it’s fair to say that processed foods are more likely to appear on many such lists, and refined sugar and refined grain (aka flour) are particularly likely.

And that leads to the latter case: For very few people does the term apply to all sugars, which occurs naturally in a number of forms, most commonly lactose, fructose, and sucrose. What I react to in unhealthy ways is refined sugar, in which processing has removed the fiber and other parts of the plant, concentrating what’s left into a crystalline white powder. 

It should not escape your attention that that description — “processing has removed the fiber and other parts of the plant, concentrating what’s left into a crystalline white powder” — also describes cocaine. With only slight variation, it also would describe heroin and flour; the main difference is which plant the processor starts with.

A stigma to celebrating food? Where?

I reach perhaps my greatest convergence of outlook with author Barbara Kingsolver in this latest excerpt from her 2007 book "Animal Vegetable Miracle," to the point of wanting to effect that quizzical look puppies evince when they see something that truly flummoxes them:

ACORN, Shades of Hope to collaborate

If you've read "Fat Boy Thin Man," you know about Acorn Food Dependency Recovery Services. Chapter 6, titled "Itinerant rehab," is based on my spending five days in Acorn's treatment program, based that week at a rented vacation chalet somewhere in southern Indiana. Acorn has also conducted its programs in Illinois, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, as well as in Iceland and Canada, and I'm probably missing a few, too.

More is not always better

Here's another excerpt from Barbara Kingsolver's 2007 book, "Animal Vegetable Miracle."

Grocery money is an odd sticking point for U.S. citizens, who on average spend a lower proportion o our income on food than people in any other country, or any heretofore in history. In our daily fare, even in school lunches, we broadly justify consumption of tallow-fried animal pulp on the grounds that it's cheaper than whole grains, fresh vegetables, hormone-free dairy, and such. Whether on school boards or in families, budget keepers may be aware of the health tradeoff but still feel compelled to economize on food — in a manner that would be utterly unacceptable if the health risk involved an unsafe family vehicle or a plume of benzene running through a school basement. It's interesting that penny-pinching is an accepted defense for toxic food habits, when frugality so rarely rules other consumer domains. [Page 115]

As a compulsive eater and food addict in recovery for a very long time, these issues are mine in degrees greater than the general population, even if you'd think that my experience shoulda learned me better by now. Good nutrition and healthy ingredients are bywords not only of my personal health but of my professional standing, but I still bee-line for the reduced-price cart at my farm stand.

Citizen of the planet

A version of this was also posted today at Sprout Savvy. I'm delighted to share with them, and delighted they invited me to.

One of the first questions people have for me is, Never mind how you lost 155 pounds, how have you been keeping it off for almost 20 years?

I have several answers, depending on how much time we have, but the best, most accurate one is, I finally realized and accepted that I’m a citizen of the planet.


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