10 Strikes Against ‘Personal Responsibility’
Sugar addiction is now discussed in the mainstream media. Sugar sellers will always argue that it comes down to personal responsibility. They say their products aren’t bad for you if consumed in moderation.
If someone is sick then they get blamed because they should have known better than to overdo their unhealthy indulgences. So smokers are blamed for getting COPD, people with high cholesterol are blamed for eating too much meat, and those with diabetes or excessive weight are blamed for eating too many sweets.
Society tends to ignore the chain of causality that makes it very difficult for people to make healthy choices. Let’s take a look at that chain:
1. Sweets Are Engineered
Processed food is engineered to appeal to our tastebuds. Companies literally design recipes that light up the reward centers in our brain. They combine the rush and high that the food physically gives you with advertising that appeals to your mental value system. The result is you being physically dependent on the food while being emotionally rewarded and positively reinforced for eating it.
2. Sweets Are Advertised
When is the last time you saw a billboard ad for broccoli? Or a television commercial promoting 100% natural foods? Meanwhile, processed sweets are advertised on a regular basis. The advertising is designed to engage your sense of entitlement—you deserve the best junk food money can buy, after all. That’s what they tell you.
3. People Define Identity Through Indulgence
By abstaining from sweets you will encounter many people who think you are a snob. They’ll attack your “holier than thou” stance and insinuate that you are no fun. However, those people know nothing about you, your health, or your choice to go sugar-free. Those people are defining their identity by denouncing yours. In fact, they are accusing you of doing what they are doing, which is to take an action and then feel superior to others as a result of that personal choice.
4. Sugar is Everywhere
Everywhere you go you will be tempted into eating something sweet. Even hospitals and gyms have sugary junk food for sale, which is sort of like selling drugs at a police station.
5. Sugar has an Immediate Reaction
Sugar, like a drug, creates a rush that you can feel. The physiological and psychological effects are immediate and that helps make it more appealing. You know you can purchase that feeling when you want it. A little dose of happy means you can buy it again and again and again.
6. You are Conditioned
Since you were a kid, you have been taught to consume sweets. From sugary cereal for breakfast to cool/sweet drinks on a hot day, sugar has infiltrated all parts of your life and nobody has stopped it. How are you supposed to say no now? You may not know how.
7. Sugar is Still Acceptable
Until recently, sugar was considered part of a healthy diet. People thought it gave you a boost of energy. Eating sweet things all day long was normal. Unfortunately—even with mounting evidence that too much sugar is detrimental to our health—our taste buds have become accustomed to the sweet flavor in everything. When people eat something that’s not sweetened, they think it tastes bad or bland.
8. Sugar Abuse Mimics Hard Substance Abuse
Parents who use substances often teach their kids how and when to use by giving them sugar at an early age. They reward the kids with sugar. They joke that their kids are on a sugar high. They make little videos of their children strung out on sweets and post them on social media. All of this is teaching the child what to believe and how to behave around substances.
9. We’ve Been Doing Sweets Since We Were Kids
Even if your upbringing didn’t include substance abuse, it likely included sugar use. Many people have positively charged memories surrounding candy. From birthday parties to sleepovers, first dates, and spending time with friends, candy marked the beginning of making our own choices and experiencing life independently.
10. We Think Sweets are a Reward
Beer commercials convince you that your hard work should be rewarded with a cool brew. Similarly, sugary snacks are something we feel we deserve. Good grades, pay raises, and the completion of goals are often celebrated with dessert. After all the hard work you do, you deserve to eat some cutely-named processed junk food.
The Truth: You Decide
It’s always up to you. It’s always your choice. Personal responsibility is something that happens close to you. Personal responsibility happens in your personal space. For the most part, people don’t shove food into our mouths. We do that to ourselves.
The fuel you put in your car effects its performance. The food athletes eat before competing effects their performance. The food you use to fuel your life effects your performance… and your mood… and your relationships… and your energy levels… and your everything.