Bring it to Barb


Dear Barb,

Sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine? Is this true? 



About 4 years ago, I had a discussion about this very thing with a very smart person. It was dismissed as false, yet now it has been validated as true. 

Sugar is as addictive as cocaine and the degree is insignificant. The difference is that the addiction is not only based on emotion; it is an addiction biologically as well! We all know we can’t control our biology except for by changing what we ingest! On a daily basis, it is difficult to climb down a mountain of ecstasy without sugar. Who wants to move away from ecstasy? That bite of a candy bar or scoop of ice cream is heavenly, right? But we must be in charge of our own hands putting things into our mouths. We preach taking responsibility of our own actions in life, but forget about the hand to mouth responsibility! Be honest: Temptation is everywhere, but can we curb it a little bit?

How it works is simple: When you consume a disproportionate amount of sugar (not just table sugar) at high levels, it significantly alters the brain mechanism for pleasure and reward. 

The problem is how to detox without too much pain or sacrifice. You can’t remove something from your lifestyle or eating habits without replacing it with something else that provides the same satisfaction. 

The facts are in: The science is beyond question that sugar in all its forms is the root cause of our obesity and most of our chronic diseases.

So, before you tear open another little “snack-size” candy in your kid’s Halloween stash, take a minute to pause. You may be craving “fat” and your body/brain is seeking a quick fix. Fat is necessary, as it normalizes blood sugar and provides sustenance to our cells. Maybe protein is what our body/brain may be lacking and a handful of almonds or walnuts will suffice. Lastly, you may need some carbohydrates if you are lacking energy. Your body/brain would be more satisfied with a piece of toast and a little peanut butter or almond butter. All these alternatives will last longer in your body and your brain won’t be affected the same as it would if you tear open that candy and consume it. 

Don’t believe that there isn’t a choice and you must have the candy to be satisfied. 

Snacking on nuts (all types), olive oil when cooking, avocados, fish and small amounts of meats daily will help the sugar craving immensely. Eating fats at every meal along with protein is critical when you are eliminating sugar. If you don’t exchange sugar with these you will struggle. 

If you hate vegetables, you’re in trouble. They are filling and have fiber. Fiber helps prevent cancer! Slather the vegetables in oil, butter or dressing…but please eat them! Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, collards, asparagus, green beans, kale, onions, tomatoes, fennel, eggplant, artichokes, zucchini and peppers are all healthy carbohydrates. Integrate them in your lunches and dinners. Crave carrots? They are high in sugar – that’s why you crave them! Favorite fruit is a banana? It is one of the highest in sugar at 18 grams. Addiction is subliminal sometimes, but you’re likely addicted and don’t even know it. Knowledge is power, and now you know. 

If you are driving down the road and notice you have a flat tire, you will stop and fix it because you know about it. You wouldn’t keep driving down the road with that flat tire because eventually it will fray and break apart and soon you’ll be driving on the rim until you can’t drive anymore. The body closely parallels this happening as we keep driving down the road instead of stopping to change it. Although it is inconvenient and fixing it is a lot of work, you need to change it. 

Your goal should be 24 grams of sugar a day. Start tracking every single morsel you eat. Bread has 2-4 grams; 1 cup of yogurt has 6-24 grams of sugar. 

Make a competition out of it with yourself or your friends. Create a group of friends to compete and pay a quarter in a kitty for every gram you go over daily and the winner takes the kitty at the end of the week. Sugar is as addictive as cocaine! Can you do it? 

Rock is a mental health counselor and the published author of “Run Your Own Race: Happiness after 50.” Send any questions related to mental health, relationships or life issues to her at

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