Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Sugar-sugar.

It has been said, by someone who is not a mother that I am a bad mother… because I let my kids eat sugar.  Really?  Here I totally thought keeping them off the pole and crack cocaine were the hallmarks of relatively decent parenting.  Silly rabbit, Pixie Sticks aren’t for kids.

Suffice it to say I was more than mildly irritated at that parental judicator’s assessment of my skills as a mom, but it turns out they weren’t so far off the mark.  Parents often nurture through food and while the occasional cookie isn’t cause for alarm, we do have to be careful of the habits we start the little darlings on.  Seems that sugar, along with his evil cohorts fat and salt, can be the gateway drugs to baaaad things or at least, bad behavior later on.

Journalist Serena Altschul and former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler (pediatrician, lawyer, author, academic and governmental administrator, smart-guy extraordinaire) once did a story for CBS News titled “The Axis of Food Evil: Fat, Sugar and Salt” in which they discussed how food affects the brain, similarly to drugs.  Can you just imagine the public service announcement for that campaign? This is your brain.  This is your brain on brown sugar bacon

Dr. Kessler is the author of a book called “The End of Overeating” (Rodale Books) the result of seven years of painstaking research into what he believes is the food industry’s “doping of Americans”, and how he feels they are going out of their way to give the public “highly salient stimuli [that] is activating their brains.”  In other words, McDonald’s didn’t make you fat, but they lured you under their golden arches into their opiod den.

In his book, Dr. Kessler states that food activates the neural circuits of the human brain that respond to “hedonistic behavior.”  Ouch.  Them’s fightin’ words to a lot of people, considering that hedonism has usually been associated with some pretty naughty behavior across the board throughout history.

Dr. Kessler presents a compelling argument, assisted by scientific data that shows the same circuitry in the brain that responds to drugs and alcohol is also altered by whatever food we shovel into our pie-hole (and I paraphrase.  Greatly.) – so, it really will serve us well to put a little more thought into what we toss into our grocery carts.  Or what we choose to order off a menu, which is why you’re seeing all that nifty nutritional information posted at your local fast food restaurants nowadays.  Truly, you are ultimately master of your own destiny and pant size, so while the 5,000 calorie double burger, chocolate milkshake and supersized fries are still available to you (the evil trifecta of the axis of food evil) – you don’t have to give in to their siren call.  You might not like having that nutritional information staring you down, but it does make it a bit easier to back away from the bad guy, once you’ve identified him.

Knowing the enemy is helpful, but the fight doesn’t stop there.  The problem with just walking away from high-fat, high-salt and high-sugar foods is slightly more complicated than just using willpower and employing the mad labeling skills that the FDA is providing you.  Sure, we all know that the éclair sitting on the plate can’t attack us, but small though it is, CAN we defeat it?  Dr. Kessler warns that once our brains have been activated by the demons of fat, sugar and salt we are just going to want more if we try to fight it.  Sigh.  Isn’t that always the way with pure, unadulterated, pleasure-seeking behavior?

Neurologists say that our brains are hard-wired to respond to the vicious cycle of craving the opioid releases that occur when we eat highly salient food filled with fat, sugar and salt.  Well played, fellas… calling it a Happy Meal.

Food can become an addiction, because it affects the neural circuits of the brain and people develop conditioned and driven behavior that doctors refer to as “conditioned hypereating” (oh, so that’s why we don’t see pie eating contests anymore).  What’s a human who depends on food for survival to do?  You can’t STOP eating, the way a recovering addict kicks their substance abuse to the curb and the two-steps-forward and one-step-back of the yo-yo dieting dance never ends well. 

The experts agree that the addiction to fat, sugar and salt must be addressed similarly to any other addiction, where a person must stop giving particular food power over them. If you had a relationship with another person that was highly toxic and came to realize that it wasn’t healthy for you, you’d (hopefully) make better choices in the future, right?  Okay.  Then you have to start visualizing fat, sugar and salt as your Fatal Attraction stalkers, lurking behind corners and counters – waiting to hurt you.  Sure, the thing you desire is all cuddly, warm & gooey… but if it (be it a he, she or a helping of ginormous nachos) isn’t good for you?!  You walk away and find the healthier alternative toward building a better you.  Some find that telling themselves they’re allergic to food high in fat, sugar and salt works for them – giving them the internal dialogue they need to support the decision to turn down food that is ultimately no good for them.

As for me, I’m not going to beat myself up for the bad mommy moment of introducing sugar to my kids.  But, I will do my best to keep them on the path of straight and narrow to making good decisions in the future and try keeping them off the “hard stuff” — like brown sugar bacon.  Among other things.

One thought on “Sugar-sugar.

  • Eric says:

    Well I’m going to stay strung out on fat and sugar. In exchange I’ll give up the booze and dope. 🙂

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