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My name is Rebecca and I’m a sugar addict

I was very upset this week when someone sent me a link about vitaminwater, after I posted how I was addicted to their 10 calories/bottle peach-mandarin flavour (with B3, B5, B6, B12).

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I was very upset this week when someone sent me a link about vitaminwater, after I posted how I was addicted to their 10 calories/bottle peach-mandarin flavour (with B3, B5, B6, B12).

Long story short, the link pretty much said that drinking vitaminwater was basically no better than drinking a can of Coke. I seriously spent hours trying to find out if this was true, but I couldn’t figure out how or if the 10-calorie bottle really did have so much sugar in it. But, then again, most things I love are bad for me (gummy bears, chocolate, toffee) so there was a good chance it wasn’t as healthy as I thought.

I really did find myself addicted to vitaminwater, in the sense I had to drink one every day. Well, I didn’t have to. I wanted to. Seriously, they are yummy.

But it got me thinking about sugar and how addicted I am (Not vitaminwater, but a lot of other sugars.) I can’t say no to chocolate for example. Then I got into a Twitter conversation about sugar in coffee, where I wrote coffee isn’t so bad without sugar and another person wrote she uses a ton of sugar in her coffee (so I promptly went to put sugar in my coffee, because it does taste better with sugar).

One of my friends is heading to The Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu next week, a new health, fitness and wellness hotspot just outside Los Angeles. She mentioned that all they’ve been doing for the past month before her arrival is warning her about “coming off sugar.” I was jealous of her trip, and wondered if I could possibly do something like that.

So I spoke with Marc Alabanza, the program director at The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu because my name is Rebecca, and I’m a sugar-aholic.

1. I’m in denial. I asked Alabanza if I really had an addiction or just a sweet tooth. “Addictions usually have three parts. The person eats, drinks or uses something that feels good, tastes good or both. This results in a physical anchor and mental association that gets strengthened with each use. The person also continues eating and drinking or using something because they feel good when they do, and they feel bad when they don’t. And, lastly, this person continues to eat or drink that something even after the dangers to their health have become obvious, because their cravings are making their decisions.” (Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! I’ve actually yelled at boyfriends after waking up from naps if I don’t have a piece of chocolate immediately.)

2. Sugar can have physiological and physical effects on our bodies and withdrawal symptoms when taken away, such as fatigue, headache and irritability/mood swings. (As if I wasn’t moody already!) Also, he says, there are behaviors of mental sugar addiction: hiding sweets, using sweets as rewards, concern for wanting to know what foods are being served at a social gathering rather than the people who will be attending (Okay, I’m not that addicted!)

3. I asked if, like I did with smoking, if I should stop cold turkey or take baby steps. “Personally,” he says, “I find stopping cold turkey, coupled with exercise and mental reflection through journalling or speaking with others who are experiencing the same feelings, works the best.” (Note to self: buy a sugar diary.)

4. The sugary foods people are most addicted to? Chocolates, desserts, sodas, cookies and adding sugar to daily beverages (like coffee!). “These are all common things that will initiate that sugar/insulin response in the body,” he says.

5. I ask what’s the real problem, since I’m not overweight and I don’t have cavities. “Sugar sets the groundwork for other unhealthy situations in the body. Sugar is needed by the brain to function and is the preferred source of fuel for our muscles. Unfortunately, when done in excess — even just a little — excess sugar will increase the acidity in the body, which can lead to inflammation, manifesting in small aches and pains in the body, skin conditions, and minor digestive problems. It can weaken our immune system.” (Kind of getting scared now!)

6. So how long will it take to get over a sugar addiction? “It takes approximately six to 10 days for most people, as long as they are not coming off other addictions, such as drugs, alcohol, nicotine or caffeine.” Also, when getting over a sugar addiction, it’s important to monitor your diet by supplement with nutrient-dense, whole foods like green, leafy vegetables; have proper hydration of one ounce of pure water for every kilogram of body weight; and get daily exercise. “This simple protocol is what we follow at The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu, although we increase the amounts of each component significantly.”

While I’m still not sure if the 10-calorie vitaminwater is addictive because of sugar content, I am sure that I may seriously have to go to rehab because, vitaminwater or no vitaminwater, I am addicted to sugar. Now, who’s going to pay for my way to sugar rehab? Or, at the very least, will you join me as I go cold turkey on sugar? Pretty please? With sugar on top?

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