A Sweet Problem



I need an intervention. Nothing as serious as an intervention for a drug or alcohol addiction, because those kinds of addictions are truly serious and nothing to joke about. But, someone stop me, I have an addiction to sugar. I’m helpless when confronted with anything sweet. I googled “sugar addiction” and there were over 5 million results. It’s a thing. There are even more results for the searches “why is sugar bad for you” and “sugar detox”. The addictive property of sugar is the release of dopamine into the brain, making a sugar eater feel good.

You know how scientists change their minds about what is good for you and what you should avoid like the plague? Caffeine, eggs, red wine and fat have all been on the eat it/don’t eat it list off and on for decades. I don’t know if sugar has ever been on the “eat it” list, but it wasn’t that long ago, i.e., when I was a kid, that sugar was at least no big deal. Perhaps one day they will decide that sugar is ok, beneficial even. Go ahead. Indulge.

Until that day, I’m going to blame my parents for this addiction. Breakfast might have been a sliced banana, sprinkled with sugar, or a sugary cereal, or a non-sugary cereal sprinkled with sugar. That sugary pink milk in the bottom of a just finished bowl of Cap’n Crunch with Crunchberries? That’s how I liked my milk. Yum! Then there was the afterschool snack that said I love you more than anything in the world, the brown sugar sandwich.

I can still taste the soft, doughy Mrs. Baird’s white bread; the smooth, creamy butter spread on both slices and the crunch of a generous layer of brown sugar that burst sweetness onto your tongue. And, apparently, gushed dopamine through my brain as I swallowed each delicious morsel.

I would eat one now if I didn’t think the entire world would judge me.

These days, my afternoon Butterfinger is an alcoholic’s cocktail for lunch. Isn’t the first step to recovery admitting you have a problem? Is the next step taking responsibility? I don’t think I’m there yet.

The reason I want to at least reduce my sugar consumption may not be what you think. Sure, I have gotten a bit chubby over the last year, so dropping a few pounds would be a bonus, but the primary reason to quit the sweet stuff is something I mentioned in my birthday post. Arthritis and the painful joints I am now dealing with that seem to be part and parcel of aging. According to the Arthritis Foundation, when experiencing arthritis symptoms, your body is in an inflammatory state and processed sugars aggravate inflammation. If I can be in less pain physically by eating less sugar, I am willing to give up the mental sugar rush and that feeling that says love. Last I checked, I’m reasonably certain that sugar does not have the human capacity to love.

This confession is not leading to the inevitable New Year’s Resolution of I will never eat sugar again. I’m not even going to try to give up sugar. The plan is to reduce my sugar consumption. There. It’s out in the universe. No more Butterfingers every afternoon. I’ll walk right by the bakery in each and every grocery store I visit. I won’t have those trigger foods in the house that tempt and entice me to eat way more than my share. Keep your potato chips. Homemade chocolate chip cookies, no one can eat just one.

If this experiment of sugar deprivation helps me knit faster and run like the wind, look out world, you’ll see me sprinting down the nearest beach in my handknit bikini, happy as can be.*

*That’s a lie. The truth: I might be seen walking briskly on the beach, attired in something that doesn’t unravel, and then sitting poolside, knitting baby things, not bikinis.

Am I being unrealistic? Should I just go cold turkey? And should I not just worry about my knuckles and knees and consider my waistline, too? So many questions with only one answer. We’ll have to wait and see. Thank you for intervening.

7 thoughts on “A Sweet Problem

  1. Gosh. I feel you. I have sugar addiction too but mine is not sugar sugar problem. I can live without white or brown sugar that comes packed in a see through plastic bag. My problem is staying away from everything that has sugar, as their main ingredient in it. Like cakes, cookies, chocolate spread (nutella) etc. I tried clearing my cupboard of it. That’s the only way I can stop myself (burps says the person who just ate 3 large crackers dipped in nutella direct from he jar) I need help too.


  2. Such a great description of the Captain Crunch milk! We had sugar sandwiches when I was a kid. I ate honey sandwiches every single day. Sigh. My teeth are still paying for all this. Great essay.


  3. If asked whether I have a sweet tooth, I would say, “No”.
    I have a full set. However, I feel I can control myself most of the times and mostly for those images I see in my mind of my future days. Fitness is important and the sugar that my body would need should come from fruits and not processed sugar. So – I try to cut down on desserts mostly. Enjoyed your post!


  4. yep – sugar addition from childhood and I will admit it too – I think when we were out of everything but margarine and white bread we had “cinnamon toast” it was buttered bread and sprinkled with a cinnamon white sugar blend and lightly toasted to melt the butter and start to melt the sugar – yum – I know how to cook because I first learned to bake – always sweet things – guess I should work on my joints too


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