Sugar: Addictions and Substitutions

I’ve read some articles that suggest sugar is as addictive as cocaine. Here are a few:

Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit.

Is Sugar More Addictive Than Cocaine?

Sugar is as addictive as cocaine, and causes obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease: Researchers

Sugar Is a “Drug” and Here’s How We’re Hooked

There are an equal number of articles that attempt to discount that sugar is addictive. They argue that anything can be addictive if we are predisposed for addictions, i.e. have an addictive personality. Okay, I will give them that. I have a bit of an addictive personality and I know this about myself. This is why I don’t gamble or drink to excess.

My argument is this… What if we are given no choice in how addicted we have become to sugar? I ask this because if you look at labels, at things that shouldn’t have sugar in them but do, and we consume them, are we responsible for that addiction? Sure, we could just not consume it. Easy enough if you can afford foods at say Trader Joes or Whole Foods where the alternatives are widely available. However, if you live in a small rural area like I do and you only have basic food stores like Kroger, Walmart, and Food Lion and those alternatives are NOT widely available, then you have no choice but to eat what you can afford and find. Face it, the sugar industry has many of us by the tail.

The most widely forms of sugar that I have found in commercial foods are HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), sugar (sucrose), dextrose, and maltodextrin.  Here is a list of just some of the hidden names for sugars (there are many more!):

  • Agave Nectar
  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Beet Sugar
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cane Crystals (or, even better, “cane juice crystals”)
  • Cane Sugar
  • Coconut Sugar, or Coconut Palm Sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
  • Dehydrated Cane Juice
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Palm Sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Rice Syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum or sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • Xylose

A trick I was taught is if it has “-ose” at the end, it is a sugar. I have read labels where up to 6 of those sugars has been included! And we wonder why we are addicted to sugar!

So what is a person to do who wants to go the LCHF route and eliminate sugar from their diet?

  1. Be cautious of how much dairy you consume because it has the natural sugar Lactose in it. Consume only high fat, full fat dairy products.
  2. Read labels!
  3. Make your own homemade condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup, BBQ sauce.
  4. If you can tolerate them, there are sugar-free products on the market that contain aspartame and sucralose. And there is always saccharine, although there are very few products with that in it these days. I prefer stevia as I have allergies to both aspartame and sucralose, but there are fewer stevia products on the market and even fewer offered in my rural area (I purchase some stevia products on Amazon). Some people sing the praises of Xylitol also. I’ve never tried it.
  5. If you are just beginning the LCHF diet (like me!), then eliminate the known things first: bread, starchy vegetables, pasta, rice, cookies, cakes, candies, etc. Worry about the unknowns later as you progress with this WOE, but again, do read labels!
  6. If you have Type 2 Diabetes, it is very important to get off of sugar, in all of its forms and switch to a suitable SS for your tolerance.

One more note about sugar substitutes: Some on the LCHF diet have noted that SS like aspartame and sucralose stall weight loss over time. There have been no reports that I know of on the use of stevia stalling weight loss.

Note: I do not include honey as an addictive sugar or as a substitute. It is not approved as a sweetener for the LCHF diet. However, there are many health benefits for consuming honey (in small amounts) and I will not vilify it on my blog.