Sugar is one of the sweetest things a part of our everyday life. We know too much can lead to occasional toothaches and bouncy children, but if that’s all there is to it, does it even matter if we curb it or remove it completely? After all, these foods are the cakes we gift our children on their birthdays, the pies you whipped up in the kitchen with your grandmother, the slushies you drank on the 7-Eleven curb with your best friends, the candies you ate in school, the popsicles you enjoyed on a hot summer day, the cookies you baked with your favorite aunt. You might remember the exact ice cream you ate after your first heartbreak. These are core memories. They’re the thing that helps you relive distant memories, feelings, and emotions you miss. They soothe you, right? 

It turns out there’s a lot more to the story than we’re told. 

Where did sugar come from?

In the olden days, our ancestors didn’t have drive-thru’s, only drive-bys – and a shotgun. They had to hunt for their food. They thought beyond their next meal, to their next set of meals. They couldn’t swing by the grocery store and pick up their cravings. Eating for survival took hours of thought, preparation, and execution. Almost everyone had their own gardens of herbs, spices, veggies, fruits, and grains. Our ancestors were connected to their food. They appreciated and genuinely respected the ground for its provisions. If we went back to this lifestyle overnight, it’d be bad news for those trying to figure out how to grow Cheeto plants and Coca Cola fruits. 

Sweeter foods were a rare treat that taught their bodies to hang onto fat as a survival technique. Every meal was a gift. If they couldn’t find food for a period of time, their bodies could feed on the fat until their next meal. Our bodies are the same today. Sweets not only turn to fat but encourage our body to hang onto it. Our bodies are still designed to handle sugar in small, sporadic quantities. 

We were initially introduced to sugar in the form of sugar cane. In middle eastern cultures like India, Sudan, and Ethiopia, they chewed on sugar cane to strengthen their teeth and take advantage of the excellent benefits like magnesium, most B vitamins, calcium, potassium and so much more! That was sugar in its purest, natural state, grown in naturally fortified soil. 

In India at least two thousand years ago, they began turning sugar cane juice into a crystal substance which they paired with medication to make it taste better. From then until the late eighteenth century, sugar was incredibly expensive – we’re talking $50 modern USD for about a pound – and considered a luxury item. European countries couldn’t get enough. They began pining for any way to find bountiful supplies, and cheap labor to make it more accessible. Sugar was one of the leading causes of colonization of tropical islands and spawned one of the most devastating phases of world history – the slave trade. Isn’t that crazy?! This thing we’ve been taught is the center of warm memories, joy, love, and happiness is one of the primary reasons for the most violent pieces of history. The craziest part is that it’s not over.

For years, we’ve been taught that sugar is a white granulated powder. It is. However, the food industry has introduced countless forms of sugar substitutes. Ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, sucralose, and more are touted as safe, natural replacements making an effort to fortify foods with vitamins and minerals. As Shawn Stevenson, host of The Model Health Show would say, “anything naturally high in fructose can still naturally kill you.” Sugar is disguised in hundreds of names, primarily ending in -ose, juice, syrup, or concentrate. These products are listed on “sugar-free” items because it’s not pure cane sugar. Listing all of the hidden names of sugar would be its own blog. The truth is, without the right education, you don’t know where sugar is sneakily inviting itself into your cabinet. 

Why does this matter?

The Public Library of Science performed an experiment where they put rats in a controlled environment. Eight times a day, they were given sugar, cocaine, or both. Ninety-four percent of the rats choose sugar over cocaine. The rats already addicted to cocaine wound up switching to sugar and were willing to work harder to get to it. That is a staggering conclusion. 

Sugar meets each qualification for a drug:

  • The need for increased intake
  • Cravings that can lead to relapse
  • Dangerous withdrawals

As you can see, it’s not just about weight and tooth pains – although those are two things you definitely want to keep in check. It has the power to desensitize you to other powerful drugs including morphine and feelings in general. 

Have you ever noticed how after a party or any event with lots of food, you feel laggy and lethargic? Even if you don’t consume a lot of sweets, here’s a surprising place sugar will capture you – carbs. Bread, pasta, and all the comfort foods like chips and snack bars are high in carbs which break down in your body as sugar, then produce and hold fat. When looking for meal inspiration, carb-laden meals most likely saturate your search results and make them the most natural food group to you. Deciding to change your lifestyle can appear difficult and isolating when sugar is at the core of everything we do. However, there is hope. You can make simple lifestyle changes to drive out your sugar habit and live a life of freedom from the modern-day slavery that is the sugar industry. Want to know how? Stay tuned! 

Bringing the family back to the table,

Sakinah is an Army Veteran, Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Wellness Advocate, Best Selling Author, Keynote Speaker, and Home Grown Chef.

After the untimely death of her husband and business partner and autoimmune complications suffered by her daughter, Sakinah realized life was no longer business as usual. She made the collective decision to redefine how she and her family approached health and healthcare.  

She has a passion for helping families come back to the table by restoring healthy relationships with food, others, and self. Sakinah believes when women, the cornerstone of the family, learn to restore healthy relationships with food, others, and themselves, it creates a ripple effect for the entire family and generations to come.

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