Are you a sugar addict? I am. In 2005 I vowed to quit and began blogging about life without sweets. This site contains a forum, my journal, product reviews, Sugar-Free Challenges, and the self-published Stop Being Sweet ebook.

Infographic: Carbs Are Killing You!

Carbs Are Killing You

The Science of Food Addiction

There’s not a chef crafting the processed foods we’re being sold. There’s a scientist—well many scientists—creating foods that are highly addictive.

Crest Cashes In On Candy Craze

Advertising perpetuates and manipulates public opinion. In this case Crest takes a self serving stance by putting kids in charge. Kids demand sugary candy, damn it! Who wants that healthy crap? Ugh, it’s disgusting!

What’s the Message?

For every ad there’s an implied message. In this case, Crest is saying:

  • You can’t replace candy with something healthy
  • There’s a right and wrong way to do Halloween
  • Experts couldn’t change Halloween
  • Don’t try to do it differently
  • Kids are in charge
  • Kids will be kids
  • Candy consumption can be easily fixed with toothpaste
  • Crest is your hero

There’s also a political aspect to this commercial, which says don’t be like the misguided, do-gooder food police [square] adult.

Four Days of Sweetness 2013

I abstain from sweets all but from Halloween ‘til November 3rd annually. This is my personal sustainable sugar abstinence plan. It works for me.

Here’s how it’s gone over the past eight years:
2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

This year I ate sugar as I always do. After the past four days, my body is screaming at me. Actually, it’s more like my body is exhausted. I don’t want sweets anymore and have been feeling the effects of the sugar since last Friday. It’s 9 am on Monday morning and I feel tired and heavy.

Physical Reactions:

  • Crusty Eyes - When I woke up in the morning, the corner of my eyes had crust in them. Haven’t felt that in a while!
  • Thirst - Most of the sweet foods I ate were dry but also filled with sugar. The result was thirst.
  • Gas - As in a painful, bloated belly.
  • Tired - Sugar saps my energy.
  • Irritable Tension - Little things annoyed me. I wanted to snap.
  • Depression - Every year, I find myself feeling depressed in the middle of, or by the end of, my four days of sweetness.

What I Ate:

3 home-made chocolate chip cookies (a gift), 3 sleeves of McViddies Digestives (2 chocolate covered), chocolate mousse, 1 pumpkin shaped Reece’s peanut butter cup, 2 chocolate Voodoo doughnuts, chocolate ice cream at Salt and Straw and at Ruby Jewel (Ruby Jewel was better), Trader Joe’s chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate covered peanuts (not good ones), Trader Joe’s chocolate peanut butter cups, and chocolate chip cookies (home-made by Gwenn). On Saturday we went to some open art studios here in Portland. There were tons of snacks. I ate chocolate covered potato chips, Reece’s peanut butter cups, a Rolo, several varieties of Hershey’s kisses, KitKat, Mr. Goodbar, really good chocolate brownies, a slice of chocolate doughnut, and a variety of chocolate cookies.

I’m glad I ate sweets but I’m even more excited to stop eating them. Rather than considering skipping next year (as I often do at the end of my four days) I am thinking about not purchasing any sweets and instead only eating what is offered to me. Who knows, though. By next year I’ll probably want to eat something sugary again. Until then, no thanks.

Oreos as Addictive as Drugs?

OREO Package

A recent research project by faculty and students at Connecticut College has suggested that Oreo cookies are as addictive as cocaine. Their findings showed that rats formed an equally strong association between the pleasurable effects of eating Oreos as they did between cocaine or morphine in a specific environment.

In response, comedian Conan O’Brien aired the following spoof:

If I had to choose between Oreo cookies or cocaine, I’m with the rats. I’d choose the Oreos (and have many, many times). Does that mean I am addicted? There are many substances and activities that light up the brain’s pleasure center; does that make all of them addictive?

Scientists and skeptics have attacked the Connecticut College study (via blogs posts and comments on news articles) to label the experiment “junk science.” If you read the details of the experiment, you’ll probably agree.

What I find most interesting about this study is not the findings or the methodology but instead the reaction of the public when they hear the accusation that something as sweet and innocent as Oreos could be addictive. Jokesters used the opportunity to make a pun (as Conan did), commenters exclaimed, “Correlation does not equal causation,” and libertarians argued that we’re not taking responsibility for ourselves if we blame the substance—especially something as innocent as Oreos.

We all know that giving children a bag of cookies and giving them a bag of cocaine are very different things. However, anyone who identifies as being addicted to sugar knows how powerful the draw to sweet junk food can be. It doesn’t matter if it’s Oreos, Girl Scout Cookies, Chips Ahoy, gambling, sex, food, or drugs. Those who struggle with addictive behaviors are really suffering. Addiction lives in the body of the addict and it’s not fun.

In the end, the “Is sugar addictive?” debate rages on while Nabisco gets some free advertising and a slightly edgy take on a very kid-centric food.

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About David

After a weekend-long sugar binge in 2003, I realized my problem was very real. It took some time but I finally figured out a way to stay off sweet junk food for good! Read more.

Quit Sugar?

Don’t quit sugar. Stop Being Sweet instead! Questions? Please ask.