Breaking the Food Seduction
Monday, November 19, 2018
Chapter 2: Sweet Nothings: The Sugar Seductions
Neal Barnard starts this chapter with how sugar, the white powdery stuff, affects the brain and causes one to feel good. There is a mild opiate effect when one consumes sugar.
Many think that they are hooked on carbohydrates, meaning potatoes, whole grains, fruits, etc. But, in reality, they get hooked on doughnuts, potato chips, candy. These are the foods that usually have fat included with the sugar and these are the foods that cause a rapid spike of sugar in the blood stream followed by a drop.
How Sugar Affects Your Mind and Mood
Sugar triggers the release of natural opiates in the brain. “Your brain cells have tiny molecular structures on their surfaces called ‘opiate receptors’. And when you exercise vigorously, you produce endorphins (which are chemically structured cousins of morphine and heroin, but milder in effect), and these attach to the opiate receptors and give you that “feel good” sensation by activating the dopamine structure within the brain’s pleasure center. This is why some people claim they get a “runner’s high”.
There was a taste done on newborn babies, which were placed in a bassinet for about 5 minutes. Naturally, some babies began to get fussy, then some were given sugar-water and others plain water. Those that were given the sugar water calmed down and stopped fussing. Often, in hospitals, newborns are given sugar water right before that heel prick to help lessen the pain. It is believed that this effect on the brain is triggered by the taste of sugar rather than sugar entering into the blood stream.
Food manufactures have found that adding fat into the mixture accentuates the effect. What many call “carbs” and say that the carbs cause them to gain weight is actually a combination of sugar and fat: . (Insert here: doughnuts, cookies, cake, potato chips, loaded baked potato.)
That First Bite:
Sugar causes the release of opiates to the brain, but can also cause you to have more of an appetite, in other words, that first bite can cause you to crave more. Again, I’d like to remind you of that Lays Potato Chip Commercial that is engraved in my brain: “Bet you cannot eat just one.”
Okay, so my memory is wrong: NO ONE CAN EAT JUST ONE
Interesting how the potato chip is shown being fried in oil – sugar/fat combination. But I digress, I am getting away from the content of the book…
In northern latitudes, people will often crave carbohydrates in the winter months when the daylight hours are shorter because these foods will increase the serotonin levels, which helps regulate one’s mood and sleep. The natural forming carbohydrates are not a problem for weight gain unless combined with fatty toppings.
Baked potato has about 150 calories. Top that with 1 tablespoon butter (+100 calories), bacon bits (+25 calories), sour cream (+25 calories), now you just doubled the calorie content of the potato and included a lot of fat calories. This will cause the blood sugar to spike.
If you are eating carbohydrate foods in their natural form, it is hard to overeat and gain weight on those alone. If you do overeat complex carbohydrates the body will often store those extra calories as glycogen, which are the high-energy molecules the muscles use for power and endurance, or are lost as body heat, often those extra carb calories are not turned to fat. Word of caution though: any time you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.
If you chose to consume sugar, instead of complex carbohydrates, beware that the calories will add up quickly. The Sugar Association claims that we don’t eat as much sugar as we think, only 40 grams (about 10 teaspoons). However, there are other forms that we do consume in greater quantities. Soda pop, a 12 ounce serving will contain about 35 grams of sugar in the form of corn syrup. Unfortunately, drinking soda will not displace food you eat, you often add that to the meal and will eat the same amount of calories.
Pay attention to how sugar affects your mood. It may give you that feel good feeling at first, but for many it will have an adverse effect on their mood and they may become irritable and moody. If you find yourself being extremely moody, take a look at what you ate and drank (include sugary drinks such as juice) in the previous 48 hours. Rate your overall daily moods. Is sugar consumption making you feel better or worse?
If sweet and starchy snacks rule your life, don’t eliminate them completely, but rather be selective and choose those foods that have a lower glycemic index (those that release sugar into the bloodstream at a lower rate.) Pay attention to the hidden sugars in foods you eat.
Soda Companies will include other substances that will have addictive qualities. Coca Cola originally added cocaine and kola nut extract to the mix. It was advertised as “The Ideal Brain Tonic” as a cure for headaches. Later on, they switched to cocaine for caffeine.
According to Neal Barnard, he states that Coca Cola denies that caffeine is addictive. He gives a source, but the book is so old now that apparently that is no longer an issue with the company. However, when I looked up Coca Cola’s website, the slogan jumped out at me:
Coca Cola: Taste the Feeling
Hmmmmm, need I say more....