The acceptable face of addiction? #sugar #sugarfree

berliner-17811_1920I attended an industry awards event this week with a client. For a large-scale ‘rubber chicken’ lunch (500+ seated) the food was unusually good. We began with a delicious sweetcorn soup accompanied by a delicate and tasty crouton dressed with sour cream mousse, chives and a sprinkle of popcorn flavoured with lime (very imaginative). That was followed by succulent suckling pig with all the trimmings, including a piece of very nearly crispy crackling (quite the achievement for a large-scale service).

Dessert was offered – another pretty plate of some kind of mousse and sorbet mix, with shortbread. I don’t know what it was precisely, because I didn’t eat it.  When coffee arrived, it came with a bowl of unctuous looking chocolate truffles, which I duly passed around the table.  There were puzzled glances as I not only refused dessert, but passed the truffles around without dipping into the bowl. When I explained, I don’t eat added sugar, which rather excludes me from mousses, shortbreads and anything coated in chocolate, jaws dropped in amazement and breaths exhaled in uncomprehending awe.

That’s the kind of response to which I’ve become accustomed over my added-sugar-free months.

It didn’t happen over this particular lunch (probably because my dining companions were clients and their business associates, several of whom I was meeting for the first time), but in addition to stunned silences and sharp intakes of breath, what usually follows is The Temptation Game.

It’s that moment when the sugar-eater needs you to join them. They need you to succumb; they need you to be powerless to resist temptation.  Because that’s the whole point of sugar – isn’t it?

Typical Temptation Game responses to my too-restrained (in their opinion) added-sugar-free status include:

Just this once won’t hurt.”

“Oh, go on, just the one – treat yourself!

“It’s only got a little bit of sugar in it”

“It’s not sugar, it’s honey/agave – that doesn’t count!” (Yes. It does.)

If anyone used those sorts of phrases to encourage a drug addict to score, or an alcoholic to hit the bottle, we’d be horrified. But sugar is the acceptable face of addiction – and that makes it okay to push it.

I know, not everyone regards sugar as physically addictive, but just try and give it up yourself before you take issue with me.

One day I might (but only might) let a very, very little of the sweet stuff back into my diet, slowly and very, very carefully. But for now, with at least 30 more excess pounds to deal with, and a compelling desire to do whatever I can to limit my risk of type two diabetes, I’m quite happy with my uncompromising approach to desserts, confectionary, cookies, cakes and other sweet-treats.

And whilst I don’t at all mind the looks of uncomprehending awe, I’d be happier if I didn’t have to keep on justifying myself and politely rebuffing the tempters and temptresses, when a platter of what other people think I should be incapable of resisting, lands in front of me.

There you go. Grumpy Old Added-Sugar-Free Woman signing out for the weekend.

39 thoughts on “The acceptable face of addiction? #sugar #sugarfree

  1. Yes, it’s very easy to suffer with a sugar addiction. I did for years until I said “No more!” and got into healthy eating. It took a month for withdrawal effects to subside, but I’m glad I made the change, especially now as I’m entering late middle age.

    1. Hi Stevie, and thanks for joining the conversation. When you realise how hard it is to give sugar up, you realise that it does have many of the characteristics of both mental and physical addiction. Well done for giving it up – we’re both doing our mid-life bodies a big favour.

  2. I don’t eat sugar – and like to think I don’t have a sweet tooth – but the truth is that I use stevia and artificial sweeteners quite a bit in coffee and to sweeten natural yogurt.

    Probably much more than I should. For quite a while I cut the artificial stuff out completely and it crept back in!

    I admire your stance!

    1. Some say artificial sweeteners are just as bad as sugar as they fool the brain, which then responds just as if you ate real sugar. But if what you’re doing is working for you – and it certainly seems to be – I’d be the last one to judge.

      I’ve found my taste for sweet has totally changed – and that really thrills me.

      1. Good on you! I’ve read the same thing about artificial sweeteners- and it was initially my reason for ditching them. On the plus side I’ve completely knocked diet soda on the head but I can’t take unsweetened coffee lol

        It’s my ONLY remaining vice!

        1. We all have to have something! My (main) remaining vice is… cheese! I know it’s not ‘bad’ per se, but if I’m honest, I think I probably eat too much of it. We have to have something though, don’t we?!

          1. No not at all lol – I had some cheese in my fridge from April to mid September and slowly got rid of it a sliver at a time 😀

            As much as I love it I don’t buy it. My dad eats loads and ended up with an enlarged heart (although I doubt you could lay the blame solely at the feet of cheese) so I’m very cautious of it.

          2. I need to cut back and make cheese a treat not an everyday. Another lesson from you I think – I so admire your iron will, commitment and self-control.

  3. I never thought of it this way, Julie. I know how addictive sugar is and admire your fortitude to say “no.” Thanks for this informative post. I’m going to share with my husband who is a sugar addict AND diet saboteur.

  4. Ah this has echoes. I gave up alcohol in 1989 by choice – I realised a bit late I didn’t like it and its impact on me. People who knew me knew I wasn’t alcoholic so tried all of the above on me. Eventually I realised they couldn’t take their own guilt at doing something they felt wasn’t very good and not needing me like Banquo standing there reminding them if their weakness or something. I think they thought I’d disapprove!

    1. This is exactly where I am with the sugar thing! Please tell me they all eventually get used to it. Worse still, whilst I’m not teetotal, I hardly drink either. So at that awards lunch I also refused the copious quantities of apparently very palatable vin rouge.

      1. Yes but there’s always one or two that keep nagging. Then they start confessing their guilt seeking some sort of absolution from you. You’ll be a high priestess of clean living and it’s so boring being a saint!!

  5. I was diagnosed with pre metabolic syndrome a couple of years ago. One major contributing factors was abdominal obesity and insulin intolerance. Like you I stopped eating added sugar. I ended up stopping all simple sugars. I dropped weight, got more energy, and love it! Keep up the good work!

  6. I realized I had a sugar addiction last January so I cut back a LOT. I was actually replacing meals with a slice of pie or a big stack of chocolate chip pancakes, but didn’t think much of it. Cutting back was hard because I love baking. So when I do bake, I’ll sweeten with stevia but make it half sugar, to avoid the stevia playing tricks with my brain. Plus I’ll eat one only after I eat a fiber filled meal so it doesn’t spike my blood sugar too bad. Works great for me! You’re resisting temptations which was the hardest part for me and you’re going strong so that’s really inspiring! I look up to you 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for joining the conversation, for your encouragement and for your tip on reducing sugar. Whilst cutting ‘out’ isn’t for everyone, cutting ‘back’ is something many people would benefit from. You too are doing well and what’s most important, is that you’ve found something that works for you – which means you can keep it up.

  7. The post is very true.Sugar addiction is making people more prone to different types of diseases and top cause of obesity.

    1. Thank you – and thanks for joining the conversation too. We can all do so much good for ourselves if we can give up, or even just cut down, on the sweet stuff.

  8. Gosh – I shall read your blogs with interest! Just started mine, and my last post was very much about sugar addiction. I gave myself a nasty fright by eating way too much of it and nearly choking in my sleep. I’d be honoured if you’d read it …

    1. Thanks for finding my blog and I shall very much enjoy reading yours too. Do check out some of the older posts… I started at 270lbs in Sept 15, now 200lbs and keeping on keeping on. Big habit change around sugar is a great boost to healthy lifestyle!

  9. Your post has got me thinking of the same human behaviour over the years. Some folks definitely want you and indeed appear to desperately need you to be part of same gang to make them feel better or even justify their own actions. Over many years I remember the ‘Oh do have a cigarette or another drink or chocolate treat’ My personal favourite was a friend that would say that he could not enjoy an evening out, if I did not drink along with him! I guess my conversation skills were not sparkling enough to entertain him. It certainly is an interesting behaviour, I guess as time goes by and we learn more about the damage caused by different types of vices, things will change, as so unlikely that some will try to offer you a cigarette these days, so perhaps attitudes towards sugar will evolve in a similar way. Keep up the good work. All the best, Brian

    1. It’s interesting, isn’t it, the psychology behind obliging friends to participate in these ‘addictive’ behaviours. At least with smoking and drinking it’s less acceptable now – but sugar! But you’re right, it will change – all things do in time. Meantime, those who struggle with sugar need to keep resisting the lure – politely! Those of us who have overcome the urge to go-sweet whenever a treat presents itself, can privately nurture our smugness. 🙂

      1. Now you are heading to the flip side of human behaviour on this type of topic. Smugness is fine if kept private. Ironically, the wife of the chap that wanted me to always drink with him is on such a restricted diet that choosing a place to eat was tricky and if her husband ever dared to ask for a second beer or glass of wine, he would be told that she did not want him having a heart attack and was not allowed to have another drink! He once said that his wife had said that they were going to live so much longer others because of her ultra strict approach to food and drink. I replied by saying that his live was cerainly going to feel like it was much long to!

        1. Ah…. maybe you missed that my tongue was planted firmly in my cheek, Brian! I sympathise with people who want to *change* their partner in some way – by making them eat or drink less, for example. But that road leads only to ruin. People have to want to change themselves, otherwise all it is, is nagging. And a life tolerating a partner’s nagging would be an endurance too far!

    1. Welcome to the blogosphere and thanks for joining the conversation and following my blog. Good luck with yours – I’ll take a look at it, and leave the link active in your comment.

  10. I’m currently trying to quit added sugar too. It’s been a long decline in consumption but I’m finding that the results are pretty quick. I haven’t noticed any weight loss yet, but my ability to stop eating and my sleep and energy are all improving! Best of luck and keep it up.

    1. And very best of luck to you too! The great thing I noticed about giving up added sugar – one of many, many benefits – was that I no longer got hunger pangs, the sort that make you eat absolutely anything in sight (which is usually the sweet stuff). Keep with the programme!

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