Why Do We Love Sugar
You may not realize it, but we are born with four primary tastes: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. The experts say that the sour and bitter tastes are learned. When we are exposed to them, we may like them or not. For instance, lemonade is sour. Some of us like it and some do not. It is very individual. Coffee is an example of a bitter taste. Some of us like it and some do not. Why do you think most people add loads of sugar and cream to their coffee? To cover up the bitter taste!
Salt is an acquired taste. As we are exposed to it more, we want it more. So, if we grow up not eating much salt or salty food, we do not acquire a taste for salt. But, if our mother cooks with a lot of salt or we are served lots of salty foods, we acquire the taste for salt. No one is immune! The reverse is also true. As we decrease salt or salty foods slowly, we lose our taste for salt. It takes about three months. So, it is not truly considered individual.
The sweet taste is unique. We arrive with it. That is right. We are born with the sweet taste. Why is that? You may say because it tastes so good! Well, yes that is absolutely true. But the primary source of energy for our brain is glucose or blood sugar. So, we are hardwired from the beginning of time to identify and seek out sugar. The problem is that we never used to have all the sources of sugar that are available to us today.
In the beginning of time, we had breast milk, some whole grains and fruit, starchy veggies like corn or potatoes, and maybe a nectar juice or thistle milk/fluid. Today we have soda, and hundreds of sugary drinks; all desserts like cakes, candies, cookies, donuts, pies, puddings, sweet bread; beside whole grains, all forms of processed grains like white bread, cereal, crackers, pasta, tortillas, rice; all forms of potatoes like sweet, russet, red; starchy vegetables like peas, corn, acorn squash, dry beans, lentils; all fruits including whole, canned, frozen, juice; dairy products like milk, yogurt, ice cream; not to mention all the types of added sugar like refined table sugar, powdered sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, jelly, jam, etc.
Whew! That’s a lot of sugar. Sometimes, we might think, well I’ll just start using sugar substitute. But the answer is not to substitute sugar; it is to manage sugar. Realize that we are always searching for it, consciously and subconsciously. Managing sugar is learning to keep your servings of carbohydrates or sugar in one meal to three or four. Many of us easily have 5-12 servings in one meal. Optimal is to choose one starch like bread or potatoes; one fruit like whole fruit or juice; and one dairy like milk or yogurt along with your meat and vegetables.
Keep added sugars to a minimum. Learn to drink water instead of soda or sugary drinks. Learn to drink tea unsweetened. Try to decrease the amount of sugar added to cereal and other foods, or better yet, learn to eat them without added sugar. Limit desserts and sweets to a few times per week or at least no more than one serving per day. Then choose a healthier sweet item like an oatmeal/raisin/walnut cookie, a small piece of plain cheesecake or pumpkin pie, or a nice piece of dark chocolate. Make those sugar calories count. Save your sugar for food choices that you feel you cannot live without.
No matter where you decide to start, just do it! Over the next few months, you will be surprised at how much sugar you can decrease out of your diet. But remember, manage it--don’t substitute it. How do you get good at it? Practice, practice, practice! It will get easier and easier. Give it a good six months to develop this lifestyle change. Your body will thank you for it with better health and a better quality of life.