Lay’s Potato Chips used to have a slogan, “Bet You Can’t Eat Just One.”
This clever marketing line was intended to sell snacks, but it may have a disturbing level of truth to it.
I’ve long compared the effects of artificial and added sugar to drugs, and now research is backing up that claim.
Experts found the reaction in the brain after eating refined carbs (read: processed foods like cookies, cake and candy and those that contain corn syrup) is similar to what an addict experiences when using drugs.
These foods cause an immediate spike in blood sugar (followed by a crash) and temporarily activate pleasure centers in the brain. It literally feels good to eat them.
This shouldn’t be news to any of us who has ever treated ourselves to dessert after a long day, rewarded ourselves for a job well done with a sugary treat, or been celebrated for being born, graduating, giving birth, etc.. with a cake.
So in a society where we use sweets as a comfort and a reward, and where refined carbs and processed foods are literally almost always at arms reach, imagine the ramifications of all of us literally being functional addicts.
The sugar drug is all around us and almost impossible to avoid. And once we start, we want more. If we refuse to allow ourselves more, we feel as if we are being punished.
I myself am a recovering “addict.” Until a couple of years ago, artificial sugar was a regular part of my diet. When I made the decision to eat healthy and eliminate as much added sugar and processed food as possible, I came face to face with the “drug” every day.
Over time, my willpower grew and my taste for the “drug” lessened. I found I didn’t need or want it any more. It didn’t happen overnight. It took time.
Now I have treats occasionally and in moderation. I’m able to stop when I want to, but there are times when I get that taste and I really do crave more. In those instances, I remind myself how far I’ve come and why I don’t ever want to go back.
For a country fighting a losing battle against the bulge, understanding the seriousness of sugar addiction reveals a larger struggle than possibly we even realized. We’ve got to detox and rehab a nation of addicts. Doing that is going to take either the cooperation of the “pushers” (food manufacturers and advertisers who only benefit from feeding our addiction) or legally forcing the issue and cracking down on the food industry.
The likelihood of any major change in the way food is produced, packaged, and marketed seems slim to nil. That means it’s up to us. We have to take a stand and fight the addiction on our own.
It takes determination and a heck of a lot of willpower, but it is worth it.