Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Confessions of an Ex-Junkie

COCAINE

Q: It’s a white, crystalline powder, and it’s very addictive.  What is it?

A: Sugar.

You’re smiling.  But I was addicted!  I didn’t simply scarf down sugar for dessert:  I used it for stress relief.  I drank sweet tea as a comfort food.  I consumed sugar when I was bored.  Sometimes when I wasn’t stressed, bored or hungry, I ate it for recreation while watching sports or movies on TV.

Four days into a sugar free diet in October, I literally experienced the symptoms of withdrawal: head aches, dizziness, shakiness, trouble controlling my thoughts. I wasn’t desperate for an escape from reality or anything like that; just a Snickers Bar!

I had become careless with my eating habits, and I knew that.  But what I hadn’t realized was how hard the food industry works to augment addiction.  Then I began trying to find foods without some form of refined sugar. (If you actually recall that old song The Impossible Dream, begin humming it now.)

  • You won’t be surprised to learn that most cereals contain a lot of sugar.  But did you know that some popular cereals actually contain three forms of it?  Raisin Nut Bran lists sugar, corn syrup and sugar brown syrup.  In those ever popular Honey Nut Cheerios, three of the five main ingredients are sweeteners.
  • Crackers aren’t sweet, right?  Except that Ritz Crackers list sugar plus high fructose corn syrup among their ingredients. I couldn’t eat most brands of Sea Salt Garden Veggie Crisps: they contained sugar.
  • Pizza may not be healthy, but at least it’s sugar-free, right?  Wrong.  I checked the label for a name brand pizza in the freezer section of my grocery store.  To my astonishment, ingredients included sugar, dextrose, and high fructose corn syrup!  In pizza?

The media is buzzing with constant speculation about this growing epidemic of diabetes among Americans of all ages. Duh!  I consulted a columnist who said the real issue is inactivity and sitting around too much.  Maybe, but could it be a problem that while we’re doing all that sitting and reclining, we are dining, munching, snacking, and nibbling on foods containing three or four different kinds of sugar?

When I started getting clean from sugar, I began to realize there are lots of other great tastes in life than just sugary sweet!  I’m learning to appreciate nutty bitterness (coffee,) peppery freshness (cale,) subtle spiciness (cumin,) even edgy blandness (sharp cheese.)  There’s surely a spiritual application here: life can be satisfying even when it’s slightly bitter if I’m motivated by faith rather than sugar! God never set out to be our Sugar Daddy in the sky.

These are just my own personal observations, not the beginnings of a crusade!  It’s a free country and there are already enough frustrated busy-bodies warning us all about the deadly perils of everyday life.  I refuse to go there. But I do want take the Bible seriously: my body is a temple of the Most High God.  Less sugar and more freedom can only be an asset in temple maintenance. All these years later, I’m still learning.  More in a few days.

Lift up the Cross!

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