Sugar Kennesaw State University Paper








Addicted to Sugar

Kennesaw State University















Addicted to Sugar

For my behavioral change study, I decided to eliminate sugar from my diet.  It is near impossible to eliminate the consumption of sugars completely as there are so many foods that contain natural sugars, such as fruits.  For this study, I decided to only focus my efforts on purging processed and refined sugars from my diet.  Examples of foods containing the sugars that I wanted to eliminate are soft drinks, sugar in coffee, cakes, candies, and sweets in general.  At the beginning of this study, I agreed to eliminate artificial sweeteners as well.  I had many observations during the period in which I eliminated these substances from my diet.  In this paper, I will discuss my history of sugar use, the challenges I faced during this abstention, my behavior changes, and my reflection on my experience.

Ever since I was a child, I loved sweets.  My favorite foods to eat were sugary and delicious.  I remember when I was young, around six or eight, my father always had some sort of doughnut or breakfast pastry in the house.  Also, during the mid eighties, I believe parents were less health-conscious when it came to feeding their children than they are today.  I can remember having a giant bowl of Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch before school everyday.

My love of sugar started at a young age, and it didn’t stop there.  Throughout my teens and early twenties, I ate sweets and desserts like they were going out of style.  I always had a great metabolism, and never packed on weight from eating these foods in excess, so I didn’t really pay attention to my sugar consumption until I was about twenty-six.  At this time in my life, I was a United States Marine, and should have been in the best shape of my life.  I noticed that my eating habits started finally catching up to me, which affected my physical performance.  I never got to the point of being fat or obese, I could just tell that I was at the point in life where I had to actually apply some concern over what I put in my body.  Ever since then, cutting back on sugar has been a battle for me.  I can sometimes go days, even a week or two, without indulging in sweets, but often times my cravings are uncontrollable.  I found this behavior change study as a prime opportunity to challenge myself into cutting out sweets for good.

Challenge was the key word for this exercise.  I have experienced some pretty trying times before, but this experience often left me feeling defeated.  At the beginning, I would wake up in the morning telling myself that I was going to succeed in my goal each day.  I would make my morning coffee with cream only, no sugar, and carry about my business.  Lunch would pass, and I would feel great about resisting my temptation.  The problem was that these feelings only lasted for a day.  Any longer than that and I found myself compulsively purchasing something sugary, like a candy bar, while at the checkout line in the grocery store.  I couldn’t stop myself.  I would tell myself that it was only a small item and that it would help me get through the day.  Another day or two would pass, another moment of weakness.  I would tell myself that I could really stop eating sweets if I really wanted to; I was lying to myself.  On the first Sunday during the trial, after four days without sugar, I told myself I would have one big cheat and start my efforts again on Monday. I ended up eating about ten sugar cookies with melted ice cream on top.  I felt disgusted with the fact that I ate about two thousand calories of cookies and ice cream in one sitting, but even more disgusted with my weakness and defeat.  The next day, Monday, was time to get serious.

On this attempt, I successfully eliminated the use of sugar from my diet for a week.  It was challenging, but I maintained the willpower to do it.  That first week without sugar affected my mood and behavior beyond belief.  I am surprised that my wife is still with me after dealing with the grump that I had become.  I was constantly grouchy and short tempered.  My wife would ask me to do the simplest thing, and I would react like a volcano going off.  I had such a short fuse, and everything bothered me.  Any time someone would ask me a question, I would feel like I was being attacked.  I would respond irritably.  I finally accepted what was happening to me, what was changing my behavior; I was officially going through sugar withdrawal.

In addition to my irritability, I also developed severe headaches.  I started to get these headaches six days into my sugar free exercise.  These headaches would come around noon, and last for several hours.  After four days of headaches, I decided that I had to alleviate the problem, as being unproductive with a headache was not an option.  It was at this point that I decided to reintroduce sugar into my diet, in small doses, to try to remedy my headaches.

Having gone ten days without sweets, I made the decision to introduce sugars back into my diet in small quantities.  Even though I was disappointed in my choice, I felt an amazing amount of relief.  My headaches went away, and my wife said that my mood improved greatly.  Additionally, introducing a small amount of sugar into my diet made the extreme cravings disappear.Instead of having no sugar for a few days and then fighting my uncontrollable urges, eating small amounts (one small size bag of Skittles for example) of sweets kept my more extreme cravings under control.

As I progressed from that point, I could skip a day’s sugary snack.  Then two days.  I am now at the point where I can go three days without sweets without really paying much attention to the issue.  Any longer than that and I need a small sugary snack to keep my cravings under control.I have not eliminated sugar completely, and have not gained full control over my cravings, but I have made great progress.  I feel that, with time, I will one day have full control over this craving of mine.

Reflecting on my experience, I feel that I can see a strong similarity between my sugar addiction and some drug addiction.  In one of our class discussions, I expressed an opinion that I was in favor of complete abstinence of drug use in order for an addict to kick a habit.  After experiencing my own attempt to end a habit, I had to reevaluate my stance on that subject.  While I believe that everyone is unique in the way that the respond to different forms of treatment, I no longer feel that a cold turkey approach is necessarily the best way to end an addiction, especially my addiction.

I do not believe that becoming completely free from one’s addiction is as simple as an on-off switch; rather it is more similar to a dimmer switch.  In order for me to reduce, and hopefully one day eliminate, my sugar cravings, I had to take this approach.  We have learned in our text about methadone maintenance as a means of treatment for narcotic addicts (Goode, 2012).  I used to also think that methadone was a poor form of treatment for heroin addiction.  I have changed my stance in that I now believe that tapering one’s addiction is a viable form of treatment, with one caveat; I only give credit to substitution as a means to treat addiction if the substituted method does not become an addiction itself.

I think what really matters is the timeframe in which the solution ends an addiction.  If someone starts smoking electronic cigarettes as a means to quit smoking real cigarettes, how long can that habit be used as a treatment before it is considered an addiction itself?  Using methadone as an example, patients of this treatment are either stabilized on a specific dosage of methadone to curb their narcotic cravings, or they are tapered off of methadone over a period of time, up to several years (Goode, 2012).  If one requires methadone for years to function normally, is this really a cure to addiction or just substituting one habit for another?  In my opinion, the rate progress is the defining factor between weakening an addiction and eliminating an addiction all together.  If someone’s methadone dose can be reduced every month for a year until the once addict is drug free, I see that as a success.  If someone with sugar addiction substitutes sugary soft drink with a diet drink then continues to drink the same quantity of diet soft drinks for ten years, I see that as a failure.  Although the original craving for a sugary soda is gone, the individual is now reliant on another substance.

During my sugar free trials, I confronted an issue that I have had for the majority of my life, the love of sugar and sweets.  I was faced with many challenges during this experience, and unfortunately this study was not an outright success.  I was not able to completely abstain from sugar consumption during this period like I had hoped.  A sugar free diet had an overwhelming impact on both my behavior and body, much more of an effect than I expected.  Looking back, I cannot call this experiment a complete failure, as I made progress on my goal of cutting sugar out of my diet, and I believe that progress in ultimately what will lead to success.


























Works Cited

Goode, E. (2012). Drugs in American society (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.


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