During the first week of the Sweet Emotion Challenge, my fiancée and I had some not so hidden signs of desperately wanting to fill a hole in our daily lives. We felt like drug addicts looking for a quick fix to bring back our mental stability, forgetting the emotional stress of our day.
My typical routine during the work week gets me home around three o’clock in the afternoon. As soon as I walk through the door, I head straight to the kitchen. I pour myself a giant glass of milk, grab the nearest sugary delight, and head to the couch.
I’m not much of a TV person, so I literally just sit in blissful silence as my taste buds dance with excitement with every bite. Some days I’ll even add a little energy to the moment with a Civil Wars or Foo Fighters record (depending on my mood).
The saddest part in me telling you this is the fact that I’m not romanticizing my experience. This literally happens almost every day of the week. Why does it happen? Because it provides a short term shock to my brain, which allows my mind to think about nothing but the wonderful flavors in my mouth.
Now, it might sound pretty ridiculous that I would give up such a small indulgence for the sake of minimally improving my health. However, my indulgence doesn’t exactly fit the description of “small” and the improvements I expect will be far from minimal.
I don’t just eat two or three cookies and put the things away. I embark on a gut bulging challenge of seven or eight with a 12 to 16-ounce glass of milk. When it comes to baked goods, I’ll start with a single serving even though I know I’ll be heading back for more.
The biggest issue behind all this is the fact that I’m privileged with a high metabolism and have never experienced any physical changes due to my poor habit. My fiancée is the same way. We are small people with forgiving bodies. Nonetheless, as the months go by, I fully expect to experience mental and physical changes just as anyone would find when getting rid of a mentally hindering addiction.
LET SCIENCE SPEAK
Scientific evidence continues to grow in support of the similar chemical affects sugar has on the brain in comparison to hard drugs like heroin and methamphetamine. We become dependent and experience withdrawal in eerily similar ways.
The most polarizing difference between sugar and illegal substances is the social acceptance of one versus the other (I'll allow you to determine which is currently more accepted) and this allows the masses to view sugar, more specifically added sugar, as a treat rather than a toxin.
We live in a time where a single serving of ice cream means we will be indulging in about a day’s worth of calories without a second thought and certainly without regrets.
As a society, we take comfort in our ignorance towards health because it was never given attention in our K-12 education. Unless you went on to pursue a degree somewhere in the medical field, there is a good chance you have limited knowledge about the food you consume and worse yet, overestimate how much you do know.
So much of the information we gather about food typically comes from non-reputable sources like lifestyle magazines and glamorized talk shows. It's easy to digest and easy to talk about in our fleeting conversations with coworkers and acquaintances.
For something that sits at the foundation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, we view food more like it's a materialistic indulgence rather than a means of survival and longevity.
The incredible advancements of medicine and technology allow us to neglect our health and well-being. If our blood pressure or cholesterol goes up, we take a pill. If our joints can no longer support our overweight bodies, we can limit our travel to the distance between our bedroom and front door.
For better or worse, convenience reigns supreme, and we are given a pass to limit our interests to leisure activities and mind-numbing entertainment.
Don't get me wrong, nutrition is hard. There's a reason we have nutritionists and dietitians committing their lives to the wonders of food. However, we fail to take advantage of the knowledge these professionals hold.
The gross misalignment of our financial priorities allows us to ignore what we are putting inside our bodies and focus instead on how many square feet we can claim as our own.
We would rather spend thousands of dollars on a steel box with four wheels than spend hundreds of dollars on fueling ourselves with nutrient rich sustenance and no matter how many simple comparisons I make, no one will even blink an eye.
What is normal and what is best for our livelihoods are constantly at odds, and I challenge myself and my readers to break the mold.