(Trigger Warning: this post could be triggering to those who have had experience with eating disorders.)
I’ve spent the week in DC for a conference for work, and in true Calee-fashion, I’ve cruised every grocery store in the area. Not looking for anything in particular — just browsing. How do you think a grocer would respond if he or she asked, “Can I help you find something?” and you replied “Just browsing”?
Am I the only one that window shops at a grocery store?
I’m guessing not.
So I went into a DC-area Trader Joe’s with my friend Sarah and her cousin (who actually needed to get legitimate groceries), and I was looking around to see if there was anything that was interesting enough to actually purchase.
I found this:
Yup. Cookie butter. It is what it sounds like: cookies, and butter (or rather, hydrogenated oils, sugar, and flour). No nuts. No nutrition. It’s gingerbread cookie and peanut butter’s bastard step-son, but he’s so bad, that you just can’t help but take him home with you. You tell yourself no, no more, but you can’t stop. And before you know it, he’s gone.
I can proudly say that didn’t happen to me. But the sheer number of comments I got on Instagram about how “dangerous” this product is, coupled with the fact that I ate a good portion of it with my finger (yes, my FINGER and in the back of a car on top of a box), prompted the thought pile on a note paper that I’m crafting into this post.
What is my point? Sugar. It’s addicting. And not in a “tee hee, I had so much sugar, I’m an addict” way. No, seriously, sugar is a for-real addictive substance. Your body craves it. Our bodies use sugar in the cave-people days as a signal to tell us what foods were nutritious, and sugar triggers our bodies to shut off the mechanisms to tell us to quit eating because, as cave people, we needed as much of the sweet, sweet good stuff (i.e. calorie-rich, nutrient-dense food) as we could get.
As you know, sugar doesn’t mean nutrient dense. It usually means calorie-rich.
Ignoring calories for a second (and for the rest of this post, because I really don’t give a rat’s ass about calories anymore), let’s get back to this frightening factor: sugar is an addictive substance.
Sugar in itself can lead to all sorts of crazy things: dependancy, crazy shifts in blood sugar, and even diabetes (these are just a few things I can think of). Oh and new research shows that your liver can’t digest a bunch of sugar at once so some is turned directly into fat. Frightening. Just like the other research showing that heart disease is actually caused by sugar (both of these studies are in Sweet Poison — which is probably skewed, but it got my attention).
Eating sugar makes you feel good (while you’re doing it). It releases happy chemicals in your brain. Sugar’s essentially an upper. When your blood sugar calms down, you feel a down sensation, which causes another craving for sugar. At least this is what I’ve experience now that I’ve removed calories from the whole food equation and have been paying attention to how i feel. I feel like crap about 20 minutes after eating a sugary substance (I’m not talking a piece of fruit, or some yogurt, I’m talking a big-time sugar bomb). I’ve even had sugar hangovers before. And the only cure is more sugar!
I went as far as to actually quit sugar back in January. That lasted a few weeks. I had two major realizations during this experiment: 1) sugar is in EVERYTHING and 2) if I restrict anything (even sugar), I will want it all the time. How do I walk the fine line between restriction and limiting something that actually is addictive? I don’t know, but I’ve been trying to figure it out.
After the quit-sugar experiment, I cut out added sugar from products that don’t need sugar (bread, yogurt, etc.). I decided I could live without unnecessary sugar, and that cutting that out would help my addiction (it did). Prior to the quit-sugar experiment I used to search the house for something sugary every night so I could get a sugar fix so I could have a sugar crash so I could go to bed. Usually that fix came in the form of nut butter (since I didn’t keep actual sugary snacks in the house). Ever since I quit eating products with added sugars (besides dessert), I’ve noticed that the life span of a jar of nut butter in my presence has gone from mere days, to weeks. What an achievement!
Which brings me full circle to the cookie butter.
I had a bite. It was good. So I had another. And before I know it I had a few more bites, and I didn’t even realize it was happening. This was not a binge (though it could be classified as one — I know the difference — no emotion was involved). This happened in the morning, and all day I was needing sugar fixes to keep myself awake and functioning. Tomorrow will probably be similar until I can get the sugar out of the system.
This was kind of a thought pile, but the points I want to be sure to drive home are:
• I fully believe that sugar is an addictive (and potentially dangerous) substance.
• We need to take sugar off the pedastal we’ve got it on and treat it like any other food — something we can eat whenever but not all the time.
• But there is a fine line between restriction and knowing your limits with sugar since it is addictive.
• When in doubt, put the spoon down, and walk away.
I think we all need to be aware that sugar is actually addictive and that our diet habit of restricting and glorifying it doesn’t help our consumption of it. If you can deal with sugar and it doesn’t affect your health, great, but I can’t. So I’m not going to buy another product like cookie butter again because it’s not worth starting the sugar chain again for something lame like that.
Have you had cookie butter? And have you ever had an issue with sugar?