You see me at church, at the store, at the school. I have a decent vehicle and dress simply. I’m friendly and a hugger. We seem like a reasonably happy family.
But I’m my kids’ drug dealer, their supplier.
It all started innocently but now we are just managing cravings, trying to keep the hits small.
It hit me hard this morning as my nine-year-old stood in front of me crying, because she wanted some so bad that she was willing to sneak some from my stash.
“I don’t feel like I have control over it,” she sobbed.
Neither do adult addicts, baby.
You might judge me but you could just as easily end up here.
The mom in line ahead of me is doing the same thing. It’s in the schools, even in elementary school, and the religious centers.
They crave and we provide.
I am, of course, talking about sugar, the same substance to which most children and adults in the US are addicted.
I can hear many of you rolling your eyes.
Hang in for a minute.
I’m being dramatic because being laid back about it is how we got here.
Instead of peppering you with anecdotes, I’m suggesting you just do some research. Here are some resources but you should do your own hunting. Remember, find out who paid for the information and who stands to benefit before you start sending me stuff. I have yet to find a defense of added sugar in the diet that isn’t grounded in ignorance or paid for by industry.
If you want to see how much money is being spent by the sugar and sweetened beverage industry in the US, go to MapLight and OpenSecrets. Don’t just look for company names. You need to look for all the groups who funnel money for them. It’s fun in a sickening way.
If you want to look into the history of the industry and politics watch Sugar Coated in Netflix.
The problems with sugar have been reported on extensively and every time someone tries the “calorie is a calorie” argument, it turns out they stand to gain from it, so be careful. Here is a piece from the Times and one from CNN. There are many more out there.
Want to talk about willpower, addiction and culture? Read Dr Lustig’s The Hacking of the American Mind. Everyone should read this book. Everyone.
I’ve been researching this topic for years.
I grew up aware that the yoyo diets of my parents’ generation were malarkey but it took some maturity and the challenges of an adult body to question the anti-fat mantra we’d been fed for so long. I should have wised up when I tried to live on nothing but Mountain Dew at 20 years old and still gained weight (and lost two teeth) but addicts can be stubborn. So, I denied it and I did what I did best, selectively found information to support what I wanted to be true.
A calorie is a calorie.
It’s all about moderation.
Eating fat makes you fat.
Blah, blah, blah.
I blotted the grease off the rectangular cafeteria “pizza” because it was the fat, not the dog food-esque toppings and wet paste crust that was the problem with that meal.
I ate dairy with the fat removed. I wanted to drink from a cow but I only wanted part of what she had to offer.
I ate box after box of Snackwell cookies and Twizzlers because, hey, with no fat, they were like freebies.
I didn’t consider any of it a “diet,” mind you, since I didn’t give myself rules, I just thought people shouldn’t eat fat. There was nothing temporary in nature, and so, I ate that way for years.
And I, like most of my country, was addicted to sugar, with all that entails.
The thing about added sugar is it’s oh so obvious to people that it is a problem within a week of giving it up.
But back to what matters most: our kids.
They are handed sugar everywhere they go. Remember when it was a treat?
Now it’s morning until night. And it isn’t just the candy and obvious carriers. It’s in everything from our bread to meat, condiments to marinades.
It’s no wonder they behave like little crackheads. That’s exactly what we have created.
Can you imagine giving your kids a bump of cocaine, a pill of oxy or a hit of ANYTHING else that is addictive with breakfast, lunch, dinner and at every snack?
No, of course not. But before you start thinking, “Katy, that stuff is illegal!” keep in mind that the illegality isn’t what makes it a bad idea. If the only reason you don’t give your kids heroine is because it’s illegal, you need to rethink how you make decisions.
It’s a bad bloody idea to give kids detrimental and addictive substances because those things are detrimental and addictive.
And in my family, it’s my fault. I could blame my spouse, the teachers, the nice people at church and the bank, or even the kids themselves, but it’s ultimately on me. I really didn’t think we were that bad about it until I started tracking their behavior. It turns out that simply keeping sweetened beverages out of our lives is not enough.
The reality is, a sugar soaked life is laziness on my part. It seems easier not to fight it, but I can see what it does to them, to everyone.
So, I’ve been purging the added sugar from our home, trying to wean the kids off. I didn’t realize how I had let it creep in to our everyday lives. I don’t have control over what they eat everywhere else but I can control what I buy and the example I set so that is where I’m starting.
I’m tired of being a drug dealer.
Happy eating, Katy