"If I gave up sugar, I wouldn't have anything to eat," a woman said to me. As I looked at her, the truth of what she said was evident.
Sugar is in most everything we purchase that is prepackaged or even canned. Giving those up is not easy. As a matter of fact, for years it felt to me like it was downright impossible. So, I knew where she was coming from. My mindset was like the big food manufacturers': A spoonful of sugar makes everything better.
When I realized I was a sugar addict, my entire mindset changed. I no longer saw sugar as some innocent thing we ply our children with. I began to see it as a tool the lying, manipulating enemy of our souls uses to begin the process of stealing, killing or destroying my life, my influence in a world that needs Jesus and the very destiny assignment He has for me on this earth.
Remember the cute Mary Poppins song with the line "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down in the most delightful way?" So I wondered how many grams in a teaspoon of sugar? There are four grams, if you wondered. But most folks don't stop with one teaspoon and many use tablespoons, which would hold 12.5 grams of granulated sugar.
Wait, though, a cube of sugar is the same as a teaspoon of sugar. So let's load up a tablespoon with sugar cubes. There seem to be at least 10 cubes in that tablespoon. That makes 40 grams of sugar in that one spoonful, more than the recommended daily amount for both men and women.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugar a woman should eat in a day is 25 grams or 100 calories, and men should only eat 37.5 grams or 150 calories. According to an Associated Press article written in 2016, America's per capita consumption of sugar is 94 grams or 358 calories. No wonder two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. That's almost four times the amount recommended for women.
When I began my extreme weight loss journey, I became a label reader desiring to eat sugar-free and also artificial sweetener-free, except for pure stevia, monkfruit and natural fruit. When I really started looking, it amazed me the amount of packaged foods that have sugar in them.
Here are some statistics from Prevention and others: 10 gummy worms have 43 grams; Milky Way candy bar, 36 grams; grape juice unsweetened, 35 grams; 12 oz. can of soda, 33 grams; blueberry muffin, 15.5 grams; fast food double-cheeseburger on bun, 9 grams; plain cake donut, 8 grams; spaghetti sauce, 1/2 cup, 7 grams; 1 tablespoon of catsup, 4 grams; 1 tablespoon of French dressing, 2.5 calories; 1 cup of canned chicken broth, 1.3 grams.
What Harm Does Sugar Do?
It's important to know how much sugar we consume because added sugar contributes zero nutrients to our diets. The many added calories it does contain, though, will eventually cause obesity, heart disease and diabetes, according to the AHA.
Nancy Appleton, Ph.D., lists 76 ways sugar harms us. Among some of the most significant ways are that sugar feeds cancer cells and has been connected with the development of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, biliary tract, lung, gallbladder and stomach. It addition, it can cause diseases such as arthritis, asthma and multiple sclerosis. It can also cause gallstones, appendicitis, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, osteoporosis, food allergies, eczema, cataracts, nearsightedness, emphysema, tooth decay and gum disease.
In addition, sugar intake has been shown to be higher in those with Parkinson's disease. Appleton agrees with many who say sugar is an addictive substance which can be intoxicating, similar to alcohol. This sweet substance has been painted as so innocent that we would never want to take it from a baby. Yet, in Appleton's list are the many ways excessive sugar consumption affects children including impairing behavior and cognition. To read the list, go here.
We have become dependent on prepackaged everything and, thus, need sugar to help us make it through the day. Our lives are moving like whirlwinds. We have no time to cook real food from scratch like our ancestors did. We have allowed quick and easy foods, those laden with sugar and preservatives, to creep into our lives. We supported their production by purchasing them, especially those with added sugar. The food industry has discovered that a spoonful of sugar makes anything taste better. To sell their brand, the food has to have more sugar to taste better than the other brand.
While the heads of the large food manufacturers read the news, too and know that sugar is causing all types of diseases, they still give us what we want. Do we really want obesity, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's? Apparently we do.
Give It Up
We want it. We crave it. We will pay anything to get it. It masquerades as something innocent, but it is killing us. Maybe it is killing us slowly, but it doing a very effective job.
At one time, I weighed 430 pounds. It was all due to my extreme addiction to sugar. Any addiction is by definition not the norm. I quickly learned that sugar addiction is one of the most normal addictions around. For me there was only one way to get free from its pull. I couldn't eat just a little. I had to surrender it. I didn't think I could do it, and I couldn't without God's help.
I had to commit to it, want to do it, aspire to rise above my circumstances, apply discipline to make it work, follow a planned way of changing my terrible food habits, deal with cravings and temptations and add components like exercise, rest and play. The most important ingredient, though, was to admit to God that I am weak, and I need His strength to help me.
"So I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in hardships, in persecutions, and in distresses for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10).
For a sugar addict, there is no cure. There is only a way to get through each day holding tightly to Jesus with both hands. We realize we can never let go because when we let go, that's when we slide back into the sugar pit.
Giving up sugar and gluten as much as possible is a lifestyle for me. I'm rarely tempted, and if I am, I know what to do to get through that. I am and always will be a sugar addict, set free by God's grace. I have to always remember that and "not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Gal. 5:1).
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, Christian weight loss coach, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor, Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off with God's Help and Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation. Get a free chapter of all her books, plus many other free resources on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.
This article originally appeared at teresashieldsparker.com.
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