Sugar and cigarettes. Same same, but different.
Written by Margaret Floyd on 29/05/12 pm31 02:01 PM
I spent a month in Thailand a few years ago and I remember something the locals used to say all the time: “same same, but different”.
To me, this applies to sugar and cigarettes. They are “same same, but different,” the similarities too powerful to ignore.
You all know by now that I’ve got a thing with sugar. I’m not a hard-ass who doesn’t enjoy the odd sweet treat when the occasion arises, but I see clients in my office every single day who are struggling with the ill-effects of sugar.
- it controls their behavior
- it gives them headaches
- it inhibits their productivity and makes them cloudy-minded
- it drives them crazy with cravings
- it makes them feel insatiable
- it makes them overweight
- it contributes to digestive distress
- it starts them down the path of hypoglycemia, then insulin resistance, and, if left unchecked, to diabetes
- it shuts down their immune system
- it creates wild spikes and crashes in their energy levels or, worse, it takes away all their get-up-and-go leaving them dependant on some kind of chemical boost to get through their day
I could go on, but you get the point. When we take sugar out of their diet, amazing things happen. Most, if not all, of the above issues resolve themselves completely.
So what does this have to do with cigarettes?
Well, as a soon-to-be new mom, I’m looking sugar in the face and frankly, I’m scared.
What disturbs me most about these comments is the general consensus that it’s not a big deal and we’re making too much of it.
But I ask you: If we were to substitute cigarettes for sugar, would the reaction be the same? If your daughter went to her friends’ 5th birthday party and they handed out smokes instead of cake, would it be treated so blithely?
No. It would be horror, shock, and a violent reaction against anyone who would commit such an atrocity.
But then, what’s so different about sugar?
Hear me out:
We don’t want our children smoking cigarettes because they are addictive and undeniably linked to serious, often fatal, health issues down the road. Cigarettes rot our teeth and feed cancer. And, once upon a time, there was no consensus that cigarettes actually were this damaging – those who pointed out their ill-effects were mocked and dismissed as ridiculous.
And so, sugar.
It’s addictive. There is no denying sugar’s addictive qualities. Ask anyone who’s tried to eliminate it from their diet for a period of time. It can drive you out of your mind with want and need. Studies have compared its addictive qualities to alcohol and other drugs.
It’s undeniably linked to serious, often fatal, health issues down the road. Witness the obesity epidemic, the rapidly increasing rates of diabetes in the population at large and more disturbingly, in children. Heart disease, stroke, and cancer have all been linked to sugar consumption.
Sugar rots our teeth. ‘nuff said.
Sugar feeds cancer. For one, it’s highly acidifying and cancer loves an acidic environment. For another, glucose is cancer’s preferred fuel.
And here we sit at a time where there’s no consensus that sugar actually is this damaging. Those who point out its ill-effects are often mocked and dismissed as ridiculous. Worse, when it comes to keeping kids away from sugar, parents are accused of denying their children some inalienable birthright.
Perhaps the biggest difference between sugar and cigarettes is that you can be harmed by second-hand smoke, but thus far I’m unaware of the dangers of second-hand sugar. Although the pressure and emotional stress caused by eating sugar in front of someone who’s abstaining can’t be ignored.
Otherwise, the difference between sugar and cigarettes is in social stigma (there is none about sugar… yet), availability (unlimited), and ubiquity (it’s in everything, from your meatballs to your salad dressing, not just the hot fudge sundae you had for dessert).
What do we do with this?
Honestly, I don’t know. I wish I did. I like to have clear answers and next steps in these posts, but I admit I’m stumped on this one. And it scares the sh*t out of me.
Do I be a hard-assed mom or do I contribute to the epidemic? What would you do? How do we, as a culture, make sugar as taboo – especially for our children – as cigarettes?
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