This columnist is a sugar junkie

I tried to go cold-turkey — boy, did that not work.

Since we’re on the subject of addiction…

Refined sugar in all its forms — like sucrose and high fructose corn syrup — is probably the most popular ingredient in the American diet. It’s in much of everything we normally eat; i.e. bread, cereals, lattes, mayo, juices, canned veggies, etc.

Given its popularity, it can be rather disheartening to realize sugar is one of the worst ingredients in our diets. It has absolutely no protein, vitamins, minerals, or any other essential nutrients. Sugar is simply a lot of calories that produce a lot of energy and a massive amount of dopamine, the brains pleasure drug.

And given the right genetic code, as discussed in my last column, it can also be addictive-as-hell, just like heroin. Of course, a single shot of sugar can’t kill you like a single shot of heroin, but make no mistake, sugar can kill you. When consumed in large amounts over an extended period of time, it contributes significantly to obesity, diabetes, fatty liver, and heart disease.

So, given the nature of addiction, if sugar was illegal, relatively expensive, and scarce, God only knows what the social repercussions might be.

Anyway, a few months ago, I decided to avoid sugar for several weeks, just to see if I’d miss it. I thought I was one of those rare personalities that can’t be hooked on much of anything. What-the-hell, I smoked a pack or two of cigarettes every day for 30 years and then abruptly quit without so much as a single tremor or twitch.

My friends, I was in for the proverbial rude awaking. Sugar had a hook on me that you wouldn’t believe.

On the very first morning when I sat down with a sugarless cereal (bite-sized Shredded Wheat) — from the very first spoonful — I knew something was wrong. Drastically wrong! And of course, I knew what the problem was; I had an absolutely incredible need for sugar. An hour later, maybe less, when I sat down before my work-desk, there was a listlessness accompanied by a weakness of concentration and even comprehension. For the next few days, this condition may have grown even worse, but then it finally leveled off and begin improving. I returned to normal; that is, normal levels of mental alertness. However, I couldn’t get through a single day with experiencing a sudden, intense desire for sugar every few hours.

That craving for a fix never went away.

Finally, after three or four weeks of detox, I said to hell with it and purchased a latte. And miraculously, just like that, everything was cool. I was swept by a rush of relief and contentment that was somehow a bit different from anything I’d ever felt before.

Today, I’m consuming sugar again, in moderation, on a regular basis. The limits I’ve set are easy to handle and any desire to increase the dosage quickly passes. Nevertheless, I’m living with a hook.

My name is Wally and I’m a sugar addict.

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