Sugar Addiction: Do You Have One?
The holidays are fast approaching and it seems everywhere I look I see well stocked shelves of candies, cookies, cakes, pie crusts and fillings, and other food items used for baking. Baked goods and other sweet treats are a part of the average Americans' holiday celebrations. Sugar is in our faces and I think I'm addicted. I don't know if it's just the time of year or if it's how those kinds of foods make me feel emotionally, but I just can't get enough. It has been proven in nutritional studies that sugary foods can release "feel good" chemicals in the brain and affect our hormones to make us feel almost "buzzed" or happier. However, they can also make us feel tired, depressed, or just downright sick to our stomachs if we eat too much. So why do we eat it? Why risk the latter feeling?
I believe that it is an addiction, both emotional and somewhat physical. We all want that special cookie that our mother or grandmother used to make for Christmas that made us feel special, that they only made them for us. We want to have our pie and whipped cream too because that is the family tradition that we have found comfort in. If these feelings and traditions are broken we become offended and sad. If one of our family members or friends cannot partake in eating these treats with us we get upset or mad at that person even if they have a valid medical reason or personal belief. When did sugar start to steal us away from what is really important about the holidays?
The memories that I have from my childhood, eating my mother's Christmas cookies and pumpkin pie are very dear to me. I indeed did feel special, like my mother was only thinking of me when she made my favorite sweets. Although, I realized as I got older that the world did not in fact revolve around me, I still kept the emotional attachment to those foods well into my adulthood. I still get happy when I see her baking those cookies. I eat those treats to recreate a sense of happiness from the days of my childhood, but what I have experienced in the last few years is not happiness but almost a dependency on sugar. The taste of sweet thoughts and memories is what I crave, not the treat itself. Yet, I find that especially around the holidays that I crave more sugary foods, even beverages that contain a lot of sugar. I eat so much of it, I make myself sick. The sad part is, is that I know that I am not alone. I am not the only one that has done this. I have friends and family that tell me that they do the same thing. I have even had someone tell me that if they do not eat dessert with their family around the holidays that their family becomes offended. How dare they ruin the tradition! I believe this all goes back to the emotional attachment to the food.
A treat is supposed to be a "treat", not a 24/7 indulgence. I believe that people forget that, at stressful times in their lives and especially around the holidays. Sugar is addictive, it is like a drug. But, most people do not view it in that way. The holidays are supposed to be a time of spending quality time with our loved ones, but the idea of who made the best pie gets in the way sometimes. I wonder if Thanksgiving would be the same without the pumpkin pie or if Christmas would be the same without the cookies? I think that most people in America would say no, that those times of the year would not be the same. I know that sugar is addictive, because I believe that I have a sugar addiction. However, I have admitted it and am ready to break my addiction. I want my holiday time to be filled with memories of my child playing with their new toys and of watching my family members smile when they open their gifts. I do not want the sweets to be the most important part of the night, but merely a small part, if it has to be included at all. I know that I will never get my family and friends or other people to exclude sugar from their holiday menus, but in knowing that I can make them aware of the importance that they have placed on the food instead of on each other will empower me to overcome my addiction to sugar. In becoming empowered to do that, it will make my holidays even brighter.