Monday, May 27, 2013

Is Your Food Addiction Making You Fat? SUGAR: Part I

The above are the most used ingredients in food processing.
 The history of corporate food manufacturing in this nation has been a death-struggle competition for the emotions, hearts and appetites of consumers. If you find this hard to believe perhaps you didn't read the New York Times article by Michael Moss or his wonderful book. According to Moss' research, the industry does not care if the foods they manufacture give you insane, unstoppable cravings, or make you overweight, fat, or sick. Companies spend millions in food labs to make sure their products keep your senses enthralled with the look, the "mouth feel," the smell, the crunchiness or softness or smoothness and above all the tastes which bring you to your very individual "bliss point" (Their word, not mine.) while eating their product. Most of the information given below is referenced from Moss' book, Foodopoly by Wenonah Hauter and from articles on MedPage Today.

The combination of ingredients are often chemical, but they serve their purpose. They bring you toward an orgasmic foodie experience that broccoli, beans and spinach, regardless, of the brilliance of Master Chef Eric Ripirt's culinary craftsmanship, will never give you. The artificial ingredients are formulated and modified in test kitchens in a long, involved process with the help of people like you and me who are paid for their time and their taste opinions. Once a food is created, then the extremely clever marketing companies take over and it will be impossible for you to resist these products which you will return to again and again and again, unless you are A HEALTH LUNATIC.

The result of this food creation process began on a mega scale about 80 years ago. It has been and will be ongoing and is spreading to third world countries. A food which manifests the prototypic example, might be the magnificent  101 year-old Oreo Cookie, a cookie which, once you taste it (like most manufactured food products in the US) sells itself. Oreos are advertised on their website as "Milk's Favorite Cookie." They are a globally renown all time best selling favorite. The original tastes fabulous dunked in milk; two semi-sweet, dry, crunchy, chocolate cookie rounds with the ultra-sweet vanilla creme sandwiched between.
The original Oreo at 101 years-old.
When you bite, you hear and feel the muffled snap in your head that excites your brain anticipating what follows:  the dry, dark chocolate crumbles melting into the vanilla creme sweetness as you chew. The milk stems the dryness of the chocolate cookie, softens the feel in your mouth which you then swallow simultaneously savoring the semi-sweet chocolatey taste and vanilla creme smoothness. The hint of real cream fat in the thirst quenching milk brings you to your rapture. The combinations of dry, crunch, semi-sweet chocolate, vanilla sweetness and bit of salt to enhance the flavors is complimented by the milk washing this sublimity down. This cookie has been carefully crafted to make you fall in love forever.
The green tea ice cream Oreo flavor a big seller in China.

The original Oreos are heavenly and over the decades the taste testers and food scientists added spin offs to tweak your palate's curiosity and interest in a never ending line extension of joy (chocolate banana split creme; peanut butter fudge cremes; golden chocolate cremes, etc.) They reconfigured size: regular (for you Goldilocks who find it "just right.") bite size: (for those of you who are waist-line conscious) and king size (for large appetites). They've also careened Oreos into innovations like Oreo pie crust, Oreo truffle candies and much more to keep those clever chemists and food scientists working for their hefty paychecks.
Oreos website which often has related videos.

The brilliant marketing on the website trends beautifully with social media. There's an Oreo song and cat and dog videos and other fun stuff and you and your family can share a photo to add to the picture gallery of favorite Oreo moments. And OMG then there are the recipes and what you can do with Oreos: candies, drinks, cakes, cheesecakes, parfaits, pies. If you can imagine it, it can be turned into a recipe using Oreos. Unabashedly, I have to admit, on the one hand, I do admire what the company has done to capture our hearts, minds and tastes so that we do not "just eat one." On the other hand, their marketing campaign is tragic in that thousand of dollars could be spent on R & D for healthier foods that decrease obesity and overweight.

If your "thing" isn't Oreos, maybe, like my friend who who watches her weight, it's Mallowmars. She ate an entire box in one sitting and became so ashamed, she stapled the empty box to the bulletin board in the employee cafeteria to remind herself that she was OFF THE CHARTS addicted and out of control. Did she ever do that again? Do you think she will tell us? Let's face it. Maybe we lie to our friends about our self-control, but all of us have had our moments where we overate cookies or a dessert or whatever and then thought, "Wow! That was a pig out." Maybe we didn't think it and just ate and kept overeating until were were overweight or obese.
Yummy scones.

Well, use as an example whatever cookies you like: perhaps the classic Pepperidge Farm line or  move away from processed cookies to high end (Petrossian or other gourmet) fresh bakery items, gluten free items, or treats that use organic wheat, or imported biscottis, pastries, fruit tarts, etc. All of these "TREATS" are fashioned so that the sumptuous taste blitzs your brain with joy and stimulates your cravings for more, maybe not today, but the memory is there. What has created the memory, the craving for more? What is lighting you up? It is the food additive with little or no nutritional value. It is the ingredient that has the power to bring you EMOTIONAL COMFORT, SATISFACTION AND WELL BEING when all else in your life may be in the swamp and you need a "feel good drug" or "pick me up."
Desserts served after the high carb, high fat scones and sandwiches at an afternoon tea.

Sugar! Liquid sugar via high fructose corn syrup, liquid fruit juice concentrate (distilled only to sugar) or whatever current processed sugar morph the industry uses that is even sweeter and more intense than 8 teaspoons of table sugar which you would never put in a cup of anything. Researchers have discovered that we are genetically hot wired in our brains for that sweet taste. It's almost as natural as breathing. The food industry has taken the hot wiring and from baby formula to Ensure and in all of the processed foods in the age groups in between, they've added excessive amounts of sugar and hooked us, prompting our "out of the blue" sugar cravings, in weird forms. What are your craves? My friends range all over: a piece of red velvet cake, an almond croissant, a Milky Way, a huge corn muffin, Snickers, a carmel Frappuccino. We never tire of the "bliss points" these yummies shoot to our brains. Sugar  is perhaps more addictive than alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. In fact alcoholics and drug addicts also are sugar addicts. In Michael Moss's book, researchers discovered that the brain lights up similarly according to MRI data.
The brain lights up with infusions of sugar in any form: raw, brown, organic sugar, stevia, high fructose corn syrup, all of it. There is no distinction except in intensity with the high fructose being even sweeter than granulated.
Sugar works on the body like a drug and behaves like a drug in our brains/minds from the moment the right amount of sweetness assaults our taste buds to the point where our insulin levels skyrocket to generate that contented, satisfied, numb feeling. That is why the food industrial complex uses so much of it to addict us. The danger is that unlike other drugs, sugar is legal. You can have as much of it as you want, and it seems that kids can't get enough of it in cereals, drinks (Kool Aide and other powdery convenience drinks), candy, puddings, snacks, etc. Teens need their sugary drinks, and sodas and snacks, and twenty and thirty somethings need their power drinks like Red Bull, etc. and health bars all of which have sugar. Families and moms and the rest of us can't get enough of it in processed foods, snacks, desserts, canned foods and sauces and ready-made meals in packages, meals from food industry eateries (Applebee's) or dinners from high end restaurants. It is added to just about everything made for us that we eat, and barring the substance itself, an alternative is always handy to add the sweet taste (carrots or other sweeter veggies or fruits, maple syrup, agave, stevia, etc.) Some implicate sugar as the medium that along with protein feeds cancer cells making your body very acidic; an acidic body some have hypothesized is the playground for cancer.
Brown or white sugar, it's still sugar and it's addictive.

We don't even have to examine the research studies to understand that we love the taste of sweetness. Each day Americans on average if they eat processed foods or sodas have about 18 teaspoons of sugar a day. If you binge, it's more. Specifically, how does an Oreo or Mallowmar get you to eat the whole box or half a package? How does soda including diet soda increase your appetite? Scientists are trying to figure that out as they are trying to figure out how sugar impacts the entire body. It's ability to stimulate cravings has been studied by scientists in the food industry. Time and again they've proven that sugar sells product. They've made trillions off the excessive use of sugar. They also know something else, but as mentioned, they are not concerned about it unless the sales deteriorate for all brands with excessive sugar.
Overweight has become the norm; Type II diabetes has increased.
They know sugar greatly increases the likelihood of one's becoming fat and obese. Obesity and overweight increase the risk for getting Type II Diabetes and having cardiovascular problems and strokes. With Type II, the likelihood of extreme complications like glaucoma, infection leading to amputation, depressed immune systems, stroke and heart disease increases with each pound of fat beyond normal weight. For the aging boomer population, this can lead to mobility issues and impairment. Bloated and weighted down by obesity and excessive fat, it becomes difficult to lead an active lifestyle. Most likely individuals in various states of impairment will rely more and more on scooters, motorized assistive devices and possibly handicapped vehicles to get around.
Shopping in a cereal aisle; some cereals are 50% sugar.

Despite the 62% overweight and or obese in our nation overall, the FDA does not regulate the addition of sugar to most products. It should. It could stem the obesity crisis. It won't because it is afraid to take on the food industry. Meanwhile our excessive sugar consumption is causing us to self-destruct. The addictive properties of sugar make us want more exponentially in a cycle of increasing intake. When we eat more, initially we feel comfort, but if we notice weight gain, that comfort becomes irritation, frustration and depression. And then we eat a pastry or candy bar to make us feel better; the cycle continues. If we eat less sugar to lose weight, we also become depressed because we want our sugar fix. The gradual weaning off sugar takes about one month before the taste memory is out of our system and the cravings are gone. This weaning should be gradual to trick the body's cells into becoming accustomed to taking in a little less and then a little less sugar. If one stops abruptly, the likelihood one will go back to getting the sugar fix is great.

One reason why people have such a difficult time with a sugar addiction is emotional. The individual relies on that sweet taste and foods with sugar to achieve peace and balance. They experience a severe emotional withdrawal without sugar, a sense of emptiness, lack of ease, frustration, irritation, sadness and depression. Their bodies have been so flooded with this substance and are so used to it that doing without it is extremely painful because their emotional well being depends upon their fix. They've become addicted.
Our brains are hot wired for sugar, revealing our cravings and addiction to it.
Cut back on one's sugar or starch/carbs/breads (it's broken down into sugar) by going cold turkey? The body reacts immediately with various physical reactions. Some have headaches, others become anxious or nervous, others become light headed (low blood sugar) others have cold sweats. Oftentimes, to distract from the emotional response to the denial of sugar, some rewire their brain by flooding it with another substance, or diet or taste. Cigarettes have a smokey (unless using menthol) bitter aftertaste that decreases one's appetite for sugar. Cigarettes successfully diffuse the palate and muffle the brain's desire for the rush it receives from sugar. The smoke distracts the memory more quickly and helps to wean one from the dependency by creating another dependency. The addiction to bitter smokey taste replaces the addiction to the sweet one. This is why cigarettes help one lose weight. The smokey taste discourages eating and the smoker eats less reaching for a cigarette instead, eating smoke. If one attempts to end either the cigarette or the sugar addiction, the individual substitutes one addiction for the other. It's a no win situation. That is why the cigarette addicted need help getting off the cigarettes and if they go cold turkey, their need for sweets increases and they gain weight.
There are between 2000-5000 taste buds on the back and front of the tongue.

If one is curtailing one's sugar addiction, it must be a very slow process to trick and retrain your taste buds and trick your fat cells.  When they are deprived, fat cells cry out from having less sugar when they've been used to feeding off it; they are shrinking and attempt to hold onto their size.  Hunger pangs intensify, even though one may eat other foods. Still the brain is signaled that there is the need for sugar. The irony is this can happen to obese people, who are not starving and have no need to eat since they have so much fat stored up that they could use as energy. Yet, they feel hunger. Their bodies are addicted to that need for sugar. For the obese and overweight, the pangs can be extremely painful, especially if the individual has been obese or overweight for a long time and has been sugar addicted for a long time.

The best way to get off the sugar addiction is take one less of a treat or one bite less and train yourself to continue to take less where you would have been eating more. Wean yourself off processed foods this way. Substitute live fruits and vegetables that are sweet after you cut back on the processed foods. Eat more of them. Drink water and lemon or lime juice to neutralize the taste for sugar. If you persist after one month it will turn into two and three months, and you will have done it gradually with much less pain than stopping completely. Remember, this is an ADDICTION. Gradual lessening of a dependence is less depressing and less painful with minimal withdrawal symptoms.

Above all, this information should encourage you to understand that it's not really your fault, though others may blame you for overindulging or being obese. Food companies have hooked you into eating desserts and  treats and drinking sodas or power drinks. They've made it convenient for you and your family to dine out at fast food restaurants that they service with their processed foods. They've worked day and night to lure you with products and advertising, and they are spending millions to KEEP YOU ADDICTED. Like DEALERS, they don't care if you get sick; they just want your money. And it's legal for them to get it by addicting you. Avoid processed foods after gradual weaning off of them. Don't give these companies your emotions, your heart, your body and your well being; avoid their sugar drug. Take control for yourself. Force these companies to bend to your will. Do not bend to theirs. Our lives are already at risk with the water we drink, the air we breathe. We at least can control some of the foods we put in our bodies with better choices. You'll be happier for it in the long run and it can be fun besting the companies that for so long have dictated your lifestyle and made you an ADDICT. 


jacquie said...

This is so interesting! And a little bit shaming...makes me feel as though we have been duped and for so long. I admit to having the occasional craving for Oreos...OMG!But thankfully, it's a rare twinge and I don't indulge very often. With all the government controls we have, how is it that this is so completely under the radar?

Carole Di Tosti said...

The one thing the FDA doesn't control is the amount of sugar put in products. They got blasted for it in earlier decades, so now, they are looking the other way...the food industry is VERY POWERFUL. Oreos are 101 years old. That's because the brand is relentless. It is the best selling cookie in the over 100 countries. Of course, it's 50% sugar. lolol