refined sugar

"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.

The tobacco playbook

The "tobacco playbook" is legend among capitalists, especially those who want to keep selling a product that clearly has adverse health effects for those who buy it. And it should be, considering that for decades after it was clear that ingesting tobacco or its smoke was noxious, the playbook made it possible for companies to continuing with relatively few curbs, and tobacco continues to be sold even today.

Playbook practices include lying, delaying, misdirecting, and obstructing at every turn. Such tactics have nothing to do with claiming right or virtue, two concepts you want to have on your side but are all but meaningless when you're in the trenches. I've always thought this lesson has been much better taken in by conservatives vs. liberals, and capitalists vs. crusaders.

I've discussed the topic before, so why bring up this topic again? Because the forces of sugary soda are deploying them again, according to Reuters. Read on.

To know, experiment

I've expressed this idea before; sorry if it's a repeat for you: I'm moved to say it again while reading Anne Katherine's "How To Make Almost Any Diet Work."

Many people scoff when I suggest that flour or processed sugar is akin to heroin or cocaine, because the latter pair are "really addictive," not to mention illegal. "Everybody knows" they have no similarity.

RIP, Bart Hoebel

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I didn't know Bart Hoebel well; anyone who did might be offended to hear that I think I knew him at all. But I did spend a weekend with him, and about 50 others, a few years ago, and he left an impression.

Hoebel, a psychologist at Princeton who led ground-breaking research on addiction to sugar, died last week at age 67.

Sensitivity-to-sweetness study

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This study finds that regular exposure to sugar-laden drinks dulls the drinker's sensitivity to sweetness, requiring more substance to get the same hit.

You wouldn't necessarily know this, but that's one of the seven official standards the American Psychiatric Association uses to diagnose addiction: Increasing tolerance.

Yes, I do use artificial sweeteners

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This post feels like one of those "full disclosure" statements. I blog incessantly (but, of course, oh so interestingly!) about the attributes of processed sugar, especially lately. And the question could certainly be asked, "so what do you do for sweetness?"


It's more than an idle question: Science shows quite conclusively that we are hard-wired to seek out sweetness (**see below for my favorite "proof."), and I'm as hard-wired as the next guy.


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