Sugar Addiction & Artificial Sweeteners

Day three of #TGPE (The Gwyneth Paltrow Experiment) and going strong! Except for one little thing: artificial sweetener.

Today while arranging lunch for a special guest speaker we had in the office, I decided to pick up a Diet Coke. I’m not much of a soda drinker and I pretty much exclusively use stevia at home, so I’m not really sure why I grabbed it. While sipping from the can two things dawned on me: one, is this GP-approved? And two, did I make this decision subconsciously because I’m still addicted to sugar? Some research was needed.

WHEN RATS (WHO METABOLIZE SUGAR MUCH LIKE WE DO) WERE GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN WATER SWEETENED WITH SACCHARIN AND INTRAVENOUS COCAINE, 94% CHOSE THE SACCHARIN WATER.

If you read my blog you know I’m already well aware of sugar addiction and how the white stuff affects our bodies (like here for example), but as I’m on this Gwyneth Paltrow excursion I was curious to what the main lady herself thought about the subject. After a little search through GOOP, I came across an article on overcoming sugar addiction featuring one of Gwyneth’s favorite nutrition experts, Dr. Frank Lipman. Indeed, sugar is still confirmed to be bad – surprise! Here are some of the most telling excerpts from the article (also, the quote above):

  • Today, over 1/3 of our calories come from sugar or white flour
  • Sugar is associated with chronic health issues such as:
    • Decreased Immunity
    • Some Chronic Infections
    • Autoimmune Diseases
    • Heart Disease
    • Diabetes
    • Pain Syndromes
    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
    • ADD
    • Chronic Fatigue
    • Candida
  • Sugar stimulates insulin production which in turn stimulates triglyceride production; triglycerides are linked to stroke, heart disease, and obesity
  • In lab tests, even rats addicted to cocaine switched to sweetened water when given the choice – sweetness is more rewarding to the brain than cocaine

Lipman also describes the different signs of addiction: bingeing, craving, withdrawal, and relapse. When you think about your typical picture of what an “addict” is, I bet you don’t picture yourself. Which is why I never thought I was an addict! But think about it. I don’t know about you, but I have sure eaten so much cake that my stomach hurts (bingeing), almost every day I stare longingly at the cookies and chocolates my boss always has in her office and usually end up having a few more pieces than I intended (craving), when I’m trying to lean out or detox and give up processed sugar I have found myself getting snippy at times when I normally wouldn’t (withdrawal), and no matter how many times I try to rid myself of white sugar and flour I just keep on coming back (relapse, hence why I’m again writing about how terrible sugar is for you). It’s true, I’m an addict!

Now certainly neither me, Gwyneth, or Dr. Lipman is suggesting that you should NEVER enjoy sugar – from time to time a little treat is good! But, as the article says, “If even just a little causes you to lose control, then it’s best to stay away from it completely.” It is a scientifically proven fact that sugar addiction is real, so why would you treat it like any other kind of addiction? Not everyone has a problem with sugar, but for those who do we should respect their decision to abstain, just like we would an alcoholic.

Do you think you have a sugar addiction? Click here for Dr. Lipman’s fixes!

Because I know I am more predisposed to this addiction-like relationship with sugar, I try my best to consume it in moderation and like to rely on other types of sweeteners (that won’t give me cancer). Luckily, good old GP also happened to have an article on artificial sweeteners too!

The big takeaway is this:

There’s no such thing as a “healthy” sugar. Sugar is sugar, whether it’s “organic,” or “unrefined,” or “all-natural,” or “raw,” or agave syrup. Sugar is sugar is sugar. Your body really doesn’t know the difference between white table sugar, palm sugar, a piece of white bread or maple syrup or molasses.

Just because these alternatives are better than white sugar, that doesn’t mean you can go crazy! But there are safer alternatives (see table below).

sweetener guide
Sweetener Guide from GOOP

Luckily, my two go-tos are honey and stevia! But I do love me some maple syrup and also have agave in my cabinet (mostly for making Josh margaritas). GOOP has a very fantastic breakdown, so click here to read more about the best and worst options if you’re interest in knowing the reason behind the categories!

What are your thoughts on sugar? Can you keep your cravings in control?

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