Tag Archives: Sugar addiction

Uncovering my addiction to sugar

Several years ago, I gave myself a pat on the back after giving up sugary carbonated beverages. I’d consumed one to two carbonated drinks a day for most of my life. That’s over twice the American Heart Associations (AHA) daily recommended limit of 100 calories.

Following that success, I believed anything was possible, so I began to gradually eliminate processed foods from my diet. All the while, I continued to eat deserts regularly, add sugar to my tea , coffee and cereal — and even increased the “dosage” a little. I was convinced that this small amount of sugar was negligible compared to the sugar I once consumed by drinking sugary carbonated beverages and eating processed foods. One day, while placing a new 5-pound bag of sugar into my grocery cart, I realized that I had begun purchasing that much every two to three weeks. I didn’t know that the AHA’s recommended daily limit for added sugar for women was 25 grams or less, and that I was consuming up to 57 grams daily. When sugar was concealed within the processed foods I ate, it had been easy to ignore. But staring down into my grocery cart, I knew that a 5-pound bag of sugar every two weeks was too much for one person.

Several months ago, in a last-ditch effort to reduce my risk for heart-disease, I stopped adding sugar to my food, I’ve avoided eating processed foods, and I have deserts only on occasion. I finally understand that my craving was never for carbonated beverages, a particular processed food, or even deserts, but rather for the regular sugar fixes those foods had been providing me all day, every day for many years.


Raisin bran and other sugary cereals

An article about sugary cereals caught my attention this week. The story’s online thumbnail paired an image of a bowl of raisin bran cereal with the title, “Best and Worst Breakfast Cereals.” I thought raisin bran was one of the healthier choices. It’s only wheat flakes with a little fruit, right?

Alternatives to sugary cereals

The story, posted by David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding, a Yahoo! Health Expert, reports that a one-cup serving of raisin bran contains 19 grams of sugar. As an alternative, the writer suggests substituting Kellogg’s All Bran, which contains only 7 grams of sugar, and then adding a tablespoon of your own raisins for a total of 13 grams of sugar — 6 grams less sugar than raisin bran.

Compare the alternative

Let’s compare apples to apples — or should I say, “flakes to flakes”? Manufacturers aren’t required to separate sugars added to improve taste from naturally occurring sugars on the nutrition facts label. So how much sugar listed on Kellogg’s Raisin Bran’s nutrition facts label is from the raisins, and therefore naturally occurring, and how much sugar has been added to improve taste?

Remember, the nutrition facts label for Kellogg’s All Bran states 7 grams of sugar, and according to the ingredient list, the only ingredients other than added sugar are whole wheat and wheat bran. But let’s face it, whole wheat and wheat bran processed into flakes is going to need a little help to taste good.

I’ll assume a serving of Raisin Bran also has one tablespoon of raisins. Subtract 6 grams of sugar found in one tablespoon of raisins from 19 grams of sugar found in one-serving of raisin bran and you’re left with 13 grams of sugar — 6 grams more sugar in one serving of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran (without the raisins) than found in one serving of All Bran flakes.

What’s “added sugar” and what’s the daily limit?

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating no more than 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of discretionary or “added sugar” for women and 9 teaspoons for men. AHA defines discretionary and added sugars as “sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation. It does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those found in milk (lactose) and fruits (fructose).”

Discretionary sugars – use them wisely

A single serving of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran contains slightly more than half my daily limit of discretionary sugars. All Bran contains a little less than one-third, but I don’t like All Bran, even with the added raisins. I prefer to enjoy my discretionary sugar, so after careful analysis, I’ll skip All Bran and occasionally have a bowl of raisin bran.

Fix for a random sugar attack

I was prepared to write an inspiring post about food labels tonight, but instead, all I could think about was my little stash of left over Easter candy.  I’d reserved just a few pieces of candy to ration over the coming weeks. Actually, I’d reserved a canister full of little candy bars, and I ate six last night. Yes, I’m addicted to sugar.

Signs of addiction

Before beginning this blog a few months ago, I was adding sugar to as many foods as I possibly could. I told myself, “I don’t have a weight problem. One teaspoon of sugar in my coffee can’t hurt.” Later in the day, I’d tell myself, “Just one cookie. Okay, maybe two.”

A heaping teaspoon of sugar has about 25 calories, but consider this: I was adding three teaspoons to my oatmeal every morning, three to a mug of coffee, and eating the equivalent of one desert every day in the form of a very large chocolate chip cookie, several scoops of ice cream or a couple of cup cakes.

Coming out of denial

I’ve had high triglycerides for over a year now, and sugar is supposed to contribute to the problem. That’s why I decided to write about heart disease. I knew I’d have to walk-the-talk and tackle my sugar addiction. I try to eat sweets only on special occasions now. And I’ve eliminated added sugar from my diet in all other forms, which has turned out to be a lot of items. It’s amazing how many food labels list sugar or its equivalent as an ingredient.

Honestly, it’s been much easier than I expected. I sweeten my oatmeal with dried fruit and I don’t even like coffee with sugar anymore. The mayonnaise and salad dressing  in my refrigerator that I’ve recently discovered have added sugar may eventually need to be thrown out, because I’m not eating them.

Kicking the sugar habit

During tonight’s random sugar attack, I couldn’t help remembering how sluggish I felt when I ate sugar all day. I didn’t know I was feeling sluggish; it felt normal, because I’d been eating sugar every day most of my life. I have so much more energy lately that it surprises me, and it feels better than a sugar high ever did.

Tonight, instead of eating candy, I ate a desert bowl full of dried apricots and yummy walnuts, and then I filled it up again. It worked. The craving is gone and I don’t want the candy anymore.