When I thought about writing this article, I did my due diligence by reviewing the scientific literature as well as doing a simple google search on the “common myths about sugar”. While I shouldn’t have been surprised, the answers that populated my google search made me all but abandon hope.
What I read had so much potential for harm, and went in opposition to everything that I’ve learned through my work as a Registered Nurse, a Nutritionist, a Sugar Addiction Recovery coach and as an informed person with common sense (rarer than you’d think these days).
Despite cringing at what the search revealed, I pushed forth, and read through the articles, because I wanted to make sure that I understand both sides of the story, especially when writing about something like sugar consumption, that has become so unbelievably controversial.
However, the more I read, the more I was overwhelmed and disheartened about the health information that is being provided to the general public about the myths of sugar. For that reason, it became evident that I had to write this article in hopes that even just one person would be helped.
So, what do we know for sure about sugar?
“Big Food” holds a lot of power, and a lot of control .
*Who is “Big Food”? Big Food can be defined as the multinational food and beverage industry with huge and concentrated market power; think Kellogg’s, Mars, Nestlé, General Mills, Danone etc.
These companies employ marketing tactics to ensure their products are kept in a positive light. One example is labelling products as low-fat as a way to distract the consumer from considering the sugar content. The general public has been programmed to believe that low-fat = healthy. However, anytime a product claims to be low fat, it almost always had added sugar, which is used to improve the palatability of the missing fat.
These companies are also known to fund their own studies to make it look like their products are safe, and even healthy, when in fact they are damaging millions of lives. These studies are backed by a lot of money, and easily make their way to the first page of a google search.
What did I find in my google search?
The most common themes were around addiction, diabetes, cancer and hyperactivity.
In one article, the author argued that sugar is not addictive because it doesn’t share the same characteristics with other addictive drugs like cocaine and alcohol. Those characteristics being substance bingeing, substance-seeking behavior and habitual substance use, and withdrawal.
However, numerous studies have demonstrated that sugar undeniably has this effect on those who are addicted [2, 6, 11, 14, 16].
To put this into context, if you feel you are addicted to sugar, consider the following questions:
Have you overeaten sugar/high carb foods, perhaps to the point you were uncomfortably full? (Bingeing)
Have you found yourself looking for sugar/high carb foods, such as repeated opening cupboard or the fridge when you know what you seek isn’t in there? Or have you driven to the store to solely to purchase something sugary/high carb? (Substance-seeking behavior)
Do you consume sugar daily and/or at a specific time of day? (Habitual substance use)
Do you have negative consequences when you try to cut back or quit eating sugar/high carb foods such as changes in appetite, changes in mood, shaking, fatigue, irritability, headache or other pain, nausea, restlessness (Withdrawal).
I don’t think it could be clearer that sugar is addictive.
Turning to diabetes, one author, from Medical News Today, stated that sugar does not cause diabetes, when we know, without a doubt, that sugar is actually one of the main causes of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases [5, 7, 9,13, 15].
He also went on to state that there’s no connection between sugar and cancers, when it’s also been shown that high sugar and carbohydrate intake is linked to a variety of cancers, as well as lower survival rates after cancer treatment [1, 4, 10].
Another common claim I came across was that there’s no evidence to show that sugar causes kids to become hyperactive. This is another myth that’s been busted. Multiple studies have demonstrated that sugar is strongly adversely associated with psychological and behaviour problems including ADHD [3, 8,17, 18]
And so, the results from my preliminary google search of course made sugar sound risk-free. However, reliable, evidence based studies that involve humans, using things like MRI scans looking at dopamine and opioid expression  and other neurobiological changes, as well as the Yale Food Addiction Scale,  demonstrate that sugar is indeed a powerful psychoactive drug; and a very dangerous one at that.
So let’s get things straight here, and dispel the myths about sugar.
What else is true? Each of us has the power within ourselves to make a positive change in our own health, and the health of our children by taking steps to reduce our consumption of sugar.
It’s plain to see that we’re so very deep into this mess, but, fortunately, not so deep that we can’t find our way out! The solution is simple, but not necessarily easy.
First, you will have to be willing to take responsibility for you own health. At first, it may make you feel like an outsider. You’re going to have good days and bad days. You’ll question why you’re doing it.
However, I promise that if you push on through, it will be one of the best decisions you have ever made!
If you struggle with sugar addiction, I understand how overwhelming this can all be. I’ve been there, and I appreciated the battle you’re going through. Knowing what you need to do and actually doing it are two different things.
If you think you may have a sugar addiction, I encourage you to reach out for help. There are a variety of supports available today.
Currently, I’m running a program for those who want to start, or are in the beginning stages of their journey to finding freedom from sugar addiction. If you want to learn more about my Sugar Freedom Recovery Program please book a complimentary Sugar Freedom Strategy Session.
Alternatively, if you’re on the fence and are not sure if you are a sugar addict, please feel free to take this short ‘Could You Be A Sugar Addict?’ quiz to learn more.
Hope and help are out there! Will you stand up to sugar today?
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