On September 4, 2016, I decided to quit sugar for 30 days.
First I cut all refined sugars. I ate mostly whole foods or foods with less than five ingredients (that doesn’t leave much).
I created meal plans, set a target cheat day, the works. Engineering success became my goal.
But there was one technique I hadn’t thought of that carried me through the whole experiment (and a full 15 extra days):
Sticking it to the man.
Sugar execs became the villain in my story.
In my view, they were no better than drug dealers. I was addicted to their product. They didn’t care about my health. Plus they were investing billions into what I considered unethical marketing.
Sugar was my cruel overseer and I was a slave. But the time was ripe for a rebellion.
Here’s the thing:
Emotions are powerful. Marketers know it and they seek to make advertisements that play on them.
Coca-Cola is all about feeling good and having a great time.
Snickers has positioned itself as an energy bar; the answer to my hunger.
Nutella somehow managed to make itself seem like a healthy choice.
These ideas stick because they play on my emotions.
If you’re a sugar addict like I was, this should make you angry. You’re being taken for a ride.
I needed to channel that anger into a emotional punch, delivered directly into the face of the sugar industry.
Here are two rage-inducing realizations I used to drive sugar out of my life for 45 days in 2016, and a full four months in 2018.
In 1971, the Roald Dahl classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was brought to film.
Anyone who has seen it remembers Augustus Gloop, the simply can’t get enough sweets and falls into the chocolate river.
Naturally, he’s the fat kid of the movie.
But compared to the 2005 version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he’s fairly normal.
The Augustus Gloop of 1971, once a the picture of childhood obesity, is not fat enough for today’s standards.
Something changed in the last forty or so years.
Could it be that the Sugar Association misled the public about the health impacts of sugar?
Perhaps it was the rise of high-fructose corn syrup, which hit markets in the 1970’s?
More importantly, why is it so damn hard to get a straight out answer?
Folks blame caloric intake, a lack of exercise, a lack of willpower, and failure to take personal responsibility way before they pin the blame on sugar.
And yet it’s common but unspoken knowledge that sugar is contributing to weight gain.
Kids are the most active segment of our population and they’re getting fat, too. That is simultaneously embarrassing and alarming.
It’s time to get angry and quit sugar for good.
Don’t believe me? Trying quitting.
In 2007, students from the University of Bordeaux performed a study on the addictive nature of sugar, using cocaine-addicted rats.
They found that a full 94% of the rats preferred sugar to cocaine.
Now keep in mind that these rats had been purposely addicted to cocaine in advance, and they still preferred the sugar.
Sugar withdrawals began within 30 minutes of the rodents being denied their high.
So why is shopping, porn, and even exercise addiction recognized, but sugar addiction is a nowhere to be found? Why isn’t it listed on addiction.com?
As I mentioned previously, the Sugar Association has had a part in shaping decades of dietary recommendations. That’s not hyperbole- that actually happened.
Just as the tobacco industry swore up and down that their products were not addictive, the sugar industry is also covering their collective asses.
For me, addiction waslike being in an invisible cage, where I could only see the bars when I was trying to stop the behavior. I didn’t need to wait for science to tell me sugar is addictive. All I needed to do was quit sugar for a week.
Try it and you’ll see what I mean. And when you do, it’s time to rage.
About 300 years ago, it was nearly impossible to become addicted to sugar. The average person consumed about a pound a year. Unless I was filthy rich, sugar was a garnish at best.
These days, the average American eats almost 152lbs of sugar annually. It should come as no surprise that the average American is also overweight or even obese.
I had to be tough on sugar. I attacked this problem with aggression.
It wasn’t enough to take a brisk walk on lunch hour or down an extra half liter of water. I had to break this addiction, just one time. Even though I got addicted again within a couple months. I had to see what’s beyond that veil. Now I know.
I will leave you with my Quit Sugar mantra:
You have no right to be here. You have no power over me. You are unnecessary in my diet, therefore you can go. I will weather the storm that follows, and I will still be here when you are gone.
Originally published at 40k-living.com on July 25, 2018.