Can You Be Addicted to Sugar?

I was going to title this “My Struggle With Sugar,” but then I remembered that “Mein Kampf” means “My Struggle” and… well, I didn’t want to sound like a diabetic Hitler.

I realized something yesterday while reading a particularly inspiring post by Kris Gunnars over at Authority Nutrition: I might not be in control of my piss poor eating habits. I don’t want to overstate this, but I’ve been making myself sick from eating sweets since I was old enough to be left alone with my Halloween pillow case.

Oh baby...

Hell yes I used a pillow case, am I supposed to use a little plastic pumpkin like a chump?

My parents kept a somewhat tight leash on me when I was growing up, but things changed when I hit college. It turned out that no one could stop me from drinking 3 Cokes a day (and stacking the empties like a fratboy with something to prove), or from going to Waffle House at 3 AM for hashbrowns and a slice of pie. I gained the Freshman 50, and in under 6 months.

My depression was brutal. My motivation was nil. I’m not sure which direction causation ran (I imagine the weight gain and the depression were reciprocal), but it was a rough time.

I cleaned up my act (my depression followed VERY quickly), but I still do the candy binge thing. As I said on my Facebook pseudo-blog, if it’s in the house, it won’t last longer than 48 hours. Full pints of ice cream, huge bars of chocolate, cookies, anything sweet. I’ll sometimes buy a lot, just to “make sure I’ll have enough,” but it’s never enough. 48 hours, and it’s gone, no matter how sick it makes me.

Not normal, right? Sure, but I’m thinking that some of you can relate. This is disordered behavior, but it’s not uncommon. Some people do it with drugs/alcohol, some with gambling, some with shopping. Too much is never enough, and it makes me wonder what the hell’s wrong with me. Did I seriously just compare sugar to a drug addiction?

As my astute colleague Erica House pointed out (check out her fitness blog!), it’s apt. Here’s the article she linked me to, and it’s not the only one. Sugar lights up the reward centers of some brains like a slot machine jackpot, in much the same way that cocaine does. If a rat is unfortunate (fortunate?) enough to be in a study with limitless cocaine OR sugar, it will dose itself to death.

So, what’s the answer? The article by Gunnars says that some folks simply need abstinence. He compares it to his past struggles with alcoholism, saying that sometimes moderation is impossible. In that spirit, I’m keeping sweets out of my house. If I’m offered dessert in someone’s home, I’ll enjoy it (I don’t turn down food lovingly made and offered, as a rule), but I’m not taking any home.

So, what do you think? Is abstinence the answer when it comes to people with problem eating? Should I come at it from another angle, or just have some self-control? I’d like to hear your thoughts.



6 thoughts on “Can You Be Addicted to Sugar?

  1. I think it’s entirely individual. I, like you, do best with mostly-abstinence. I’m good at working hard at something if I put my mind to it, but I don’t think self-control will ever be my strength.

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  3. You and your blog strike quite the chord with me. Seems you are living my exact life? Lol. I fancy myself to be something of a poet, and the first poem I ever wrote, at the tender age of 6, goes as follows:

    Bree, Bree, you always see me
    At the shopping mall
    Buying candy, candy, candy
    And that’s all

    To this day, every day, I’m buying candy candy candy. I don’t have the weight issues, though, because I eat ice cream and chocolate bars to the exclusion of all those non-delicious calories like meat, blech. Somehow I thrive physically. The doctors told me years ago it’s because all those Lucky Charms are heavily fortified with vitamins. Who knew!

    You’re a good man, Charlie Brown! (Or Ian, if that’s what you’re calling yourself.)

    -Bree Sabbath

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