Sugar Addiction Recovery: When Imperfection Is Perfect

by Jill Escher

Let”s start this discussion with three stipulations: first, that refined sugar is a drug (refined substance that provokes unusual biochemical response), and not a food (plant or animal product that nourishes); second, that sugar is highly addictive; and third, that all else being equal, it”s best to avoid refined sugar altogether if you can manage it.

Problem is, most people can”t manage it, which has been among the factors simultaneously raising eyebrows about Paleo-type diet approaches, while quietly yet powerfully driving today”s obesity and diabetes epidemics. Since elimination of sugar presents such a seemingly insurmountable task for most people, the question must be, “Can You Get Your Daily Sugar Hit While Kind-of, Sort-of Recovering From Sugar Addiction?”

It”s anathema to suggest that a drug addict can recover from addiction while staying leashed to his drug, but here”s the problem: people have become so profoundly biochemically dependent on sugar that even I, an ardent anti-sugar person, must admit that no time soon will we have a world without cupcakes, soda, and ice cream.  So, the next best thing to the abstinence of recovery must be cutting consumption, a lot.  Americans eat on average 22 teaspoons of refined sugars each day.  If we can move that number down to, online pokies say, 5 or 6 teaspoons, that would be a fantastic, not to mention desperately needed, achievement.

Here”s how to do it:

1.  Admit you need your sugar buzz.  You eat sugar not for the alleged “yummy” factor, but because it gives you that mild euphoria, buzz, jolt, hit, floaty feeling you don”t get from real food.  You need this injection, and in fact go into a painful withdrawal gripped by overwhelming should-I-get-in-the-car-now-to-get-a-Starbucks-brownie craving without it.

2.  Treat your sugar as your drug, not your food. Stop pretending it”s just part of a meal.

3.  Decide that to feed this craving you will eat your junk food of choice, but only up to a few teaspoons worth of sugar per day.  This drug-food could be anything from cookies to mochachinos, to flavored yogurt.  It”s up to you.  Keep in mind that 4 grams of sugar/carbs equates to a teaspoon.  So if your drug is a mini-chocolate bar with 16 gm of total carbohydrate, that”s 4 tsp of sugar, which ought to be more than enough to create a solid buzz.

4.  Aside from your daily dose, eliminate all other forms of refined sugar and starch.  This means no wheat (please, no wheat! so toxic), grains, potatoes, corn, rice, bread, pasta, pizza, baked goods, crackers, or the like. And no other added sugars: no soda, juice, sweetened anything, or processed food.  Basically, follow a Paleo-ish diet, though I”m not adamant about eliminating dairy or legumes.

For some people, this is the way to lose weight, get reasonably healthy, while still maintaining their habit.  For others, it keeps the sugar monster inside intact and prompts binges, preoccupation and misery.  We are all different: total abstinence may be ideal, but out of reach for many people.  But don”t let perfect be the enemy of good. If you need further tips about how to break up with the sugar in your life, may I humbly recommend my book, Farewell, Club Perma-Chub: A Sugar Addict”s Guide to Easy Weight Loss?  It”s a no-nonsense approach to regaining your health, it”s fun to read (hey, I wrote it), and all proceeds benefit charity.  Good luck on your road to recovery, perfection is often not required.

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