Is sugar a drug? That is a question that was posed in a recent online article on www.eaters.com. The author points out that sugar affects our dopamine levels and triggers our “happy place”. This great feeling makes us crave more. No wonder obesity and obesity-related diseases are up at an alarming rate in the United States. The article says that we eat about 66 pounds of sugar a day. That is a lot of sugar!
The article suggested that sugar may one day be a controlled substance, like cocaine. The strange thing is that sugar acts on the same parts of the brain that drugs do. The more we eat, the more we want. It is a vicious cycle.
It reminds me of the problems that some friends of ours are having. Their young son is so addicted to sugar that they cannot have sweets in the house. If they have to buy something sweet for a special dinner, then they have to lock the refrigerator. He has been known to sneak and eat whole cans of icing. They will be the first to tell you that their son is addicted to sweets.
According to the article, the American Heart Association recommends that we get no more than 6 to 9 added teaspoons of sugar a day. That is a far cry from the average amount. So what is a family to do about the sugar dilemma?
I have two teenage sons and am concerned about their nutrition. I read that a can of soda has 6 teaspoons of sugar. That is why we rarely have soda in our house. It is also surprising how much sugar fruit juice and sport drinks have. The best drink to have is water.
We try to teach our sons moderation in sweets. If it is not in the house, then they will not eat it. We allow them to have a few treats every now and again. The key is moderation. I have read about the increase in Type 2 diabetes in young people. We can thwart the problem with healthier eating.
Whether or not our country decides to classify sugar as a controlled substance remains to be seen. For now, we can use a little self-control and limit what we eat. I appreciate this article reminding us that we have a serious problem in this country. If we are good examples to our children, then they will stay healthy, too.