sugar addiction

Sugar Addiction

Candy, cookies and ice cream are just the more obvious culprits. Sugar, sugar and more sugar has made type 2 diabetes the fastest growing disease in the world.

sugar addiction

 Marcos Calvo Mesa / 123RF Photo 

When I was 14, my favorite sweet was dark-chocolate covered almonds. Fortunately for me, my dad worked in a chocolate factory. Despite my addiction to them, I remained a skinny girl.

I moved to the United States when I was 27 years old and had an opportunity to explore sweets from all over the world. I was literally like a kid in a candy store! I loved all kind of pastries. I dug into the ice cream, especially pistachio. I indulged in cakes and candy bars and the skinny girl turned into an average-size woman. The size 4 quickly turned into size 8, then into size 10 — the result of eating sweets 3 times a day, every day, drinking sodas, sweet juices and sugar-laced coffee.

I was moving from slim to overweight in leaps, not small steps. Pounds were creeping on much faster than kilograms. Yet, despite the changes I saw on the scale, I still felt comfortable. I saw people who were obese and I felt okay with my “few extra” pounds.

As I continued to struggle to fit into size 10 jeans, my body gave me a wake up call. I found out I had a tumor growing on my ovary. At the time I was working at the Arizona Cancer Center. I had a great oncologist but I also knew that if my tumor turned out to be malignant, my life expectancy would be less than 5 years.

Fortunately, the tumor turned out to be non-malignant and made me realize I should be watching my weight and taking care of my health, but one warning wasn’t enough. When I moved to Los Angeles, the stress of fast-paced LA life brought on more sugar cravings and yet again, I gained weight. Now I was struggling to fit into a size 12. Aside from the tight jeans, my body was giving me new signals: I had no energy, I was depressed, I developed high blood sugar and high cholesterol levels – and still I consumed sweets and sodas.

I went to see my doctor, 35 pounds overweight, struggling with all these health issues, certain that this must be what it feels like to get older – or maybe I had some other disease? Fortunately, my doctor didn’t find any illnesses and told me I’d feel a lot better if I reduced sweets and started working out at the gym. Easier said than done, right?

I had the whole bag of excuses. Hey, I deserved to have a little treat now and then (like daily) and with my overtime at work, I had no time for the gym – even though there was a beautiful gym just five floors below my office. Still, I wanted to feel and look better. I remembered how my parents always said, “Health is all you’ve got.” I knew I couldn’t live the life I wanted if I didn’t take action to get healthier.

I started controlling my sugar intake and I got up at 5 a.m. so I could work out. Long story short, I lost 30 pounds, I no longer feel sick and tired and I’m wearing size 6 pants.

How did I do all this? Besides the exercise, I learned to face my lifelong enemy: sugar addiction. It became a lot easier once I learned that sugar is not as sweet as it tastes and can be just as addictive as alcohol (also high in sugar content)  and other drugs that create physical cravings and psychological dependence.

As I fought my sugar addiction, I knew I wasn’t alone. My boyfriend at the time was diabetic, so I had to learn more about the hidden sugar in food. As I started reading more health food articles, I got more confused. There seem to be no single answer and many contradicting opinions.

I made the decision to study nutrition and became a holistic health and nutrition coach. Now I know the sad truth about sugar and how we were introduced to this “drug.”

Colonists opened the first sugar refinery in New York City in 1689. Within a decade, people were consuming an average of 4 pounds of sugar a year. These days, the average American consumes 145 pounds of sugar a year —in other words we’re  eating our own weight in sugar. On a daily basis that’s 30 teaspoons of sugar a day, three times what the USDA recommends and if I don’t consume it, somebody else does because those are the hard, cold statistics.

Nancy Appleton, Ph.D. identified 146 reasons why sugar ruins your health and I’ve listed just some of them below:

  • Sugar can suppress the immune system
  • Sugar weakens eyesight
  • Sugar can cause hypoglycemia
  • Sugar causes a rapid rise of adrenaline levels in children
  • Sugar contributes to obesity
  • Sugar can cause arthritis
  • Sugar can cause heart disease and emphysema
  • Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis
  • Sugar can increase cholesterol
  • Sugar can lead to both prostate cancer and ovarian cancer
  • Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease
  • Sugar can make our skin age by changing the structure of collagen
  • Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides
  • Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines
  • Sugar can cause depression
  • Sugar can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease
  • Sugar can contribute to infertility
  • Sugar can contribute to low sex drive and sexual dysfunction
  • Sugar can contribute to diabetes

The fastest growing disease in United States and worldwide is type 2 diabetes. It has many different names, such as insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, Syndrome X, pre-diabetes and adult-onset diabetes but whatever you call it, if not addressed, it can lead to blindness, loss of limbs, heart attack and an early death. Yet instead of changing their lifestyle, people in our society get a prescription and use drugs so they can keep eating like they’ve always done even though by changing their diet, they could cure their illness.

The problem starts with our children. One in 3 children in our country is overweight. Our country has 2 million morbidly obese children. One in 3 children born today will develop diabetes in their lifetime and even more shocking, for the first time in our history, the life expectancy of children is less than that of their parents.

We call them “treats” as we give our children candy, donuts, sweet juices, soda pop and ice cream cones. Not so sweet of us, is it?

Diabetes is becoming pandemic worldwide. Mark Hyman, M.D. calls it Diabesity. Some scary statistics from his book “Blood Sugar Solution”:

  • From 1983 to 2008 (25 years) the number of people in the world with diabetes increased seven fold, from 35 million to 240 million people.
  • From 2008 – 2011 (in 3 years) we added another 110 million diabetics to our global population, reaching 350 million diabetics. That’s more than the entire population of the United States.
  • In China, 25 years ago, there were almost zero cases of diabetes. In 2007, there were 42 million people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. In 2011, the number grew to 93 million people and an additional 148 million were pre-diabetic.
  • But can it happen to you? If you’re 11-16 pounds overweight, you double the risk. Gain 17-24 pounds and you triple the risk of getting this disease.

So what should we do? We already have an answer: eat less sugar, exercise more, and lose weight. Why are we not doing it? No motivation, no accountability, no support, no time, perhaps no money?

America is the richest country in the world. We’re also the nation that spends the most on health care, medications, fad diets, vitamins and supplements. And we’re also the nation with the highest rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Isn’t it time we started facing facts about our sugar addiction?

Copyright © Jolanta Sierra/ 2015 Singular Communications, LLC.

Jolanta SierraOriginally from Lithuania, Jolanta Sierra is a certified holistic health coach, certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. Currently, she coaches women who struggle with weight and image issues. She received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she was trained in more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. You can e-mail her at


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