Sugar Issues? What's Better – Moderation or Abstinence?
By Joan Kent, PhD
When it comes to food, no doubt you've heard or read something along these lines: Everything's fine in moderation. You may even have said it yourself.
Talk about a myth.
Many famous people have admitted they've never been successful at moderation.
Professionally, I never recommend moderation in sugar intake. Clinical experience has taught me that some people simply can't eat certain foods moderately, and sugar is one of those foods.
Instead, I agree with this quotation by Saint Augustine: "To many, complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation."
Sugar addiction is real. A few hold-outs still deny it, but it is real.
Encouraging a sugar addict to eat sugar "moderately" makes no sense. It makes as much sense to tell a recovering alcoholic to drink in moderation – or a smoker who's just quit to smoke in moderation.
In fact, when you're talking about addiction of any type, moderation makes no sense at all.
For Sugar Addicts, Moderation Is a Myth
With addiction, moderation may be an impossible goal. For some people, a small amount of any addictive substance – alcohol, sugar, whatever – simply leads to more. In addiction literature, that phenomenon is known as "priming."
When I mention priming and sugar, self-styled censors have chastened me online. Apparently, researchers have not yet tested such a thing on sugar.
My doctoral research study showed priming among binge-eating women who were also sugar-sensitive. Sugar was a primary food trigger for their binges.
Yet lab research is often behind the curve. Scientific research happens when a need, a problem, is perceived. Maybe that's the opposite of the way things should be, but it's my strong hope that researchers will soon see the need to acknowledge and start testing priming and sugar.
The research delay isn't surprising. I've been speaking and writing about sugar addiction for over 25 years – and only now has it become mainstream thinking.
Please note that a lack of abundant scientific study in the past did not make the notion false. It was just ahead of its time.
Research existed back then. It was just limited. Some was done on animals, although chocolate studies always used human participants. But I digress.
The Moderation Myth Makes Clients Feel Crummy
The big reason I dislike the myth of moderation is it makes my sugar-sensitive clients feel as if something's wrong with them. That bothers me.
When sugar addicts can't eat certain foods in moderation, no one's to blame. Certainly not the sugar addicts – it's a brain chemistry thing.
Brain chem is largely genetic. You got what you got. I'm old enough to recall the public service announcements that used frying eggs to show us "This Is Your Brain on Drugs."
Well, 'Your Brain on Sugar' isn't your fault. People now agree that sugar is addictive, but the implications remain a mystery to some.
I say: Who cares who says what about moderation? Do what works for you.
Would it be easier for you to abstain from sugar completely? Or to try moderation ... then fail ... and then feel crummy about yourself?
If you're in the first category, I strongly encourage you to abstain. Abstaining can make you feel great – and great about yourself.
Saint Augustine would support you, too.
If you've ever wanted to quit sugar, why not now? Quitting sugar can 10X your heath, stop inflammation, increase your energy, decrease your weight, improve your athletic performance, speed your recovery after workouts, and more. Start by visiting www.LastResortNutrition.com and grabbing your free copy of "3 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Trying to Quit Sugar." Ongoing help is always available.
Brought to you by Dr. Joan Kent, best-selling author of Stronger Than Sugar: 7 Simple Steps to Defeat Sugar Addiction, Lift Your Mood and Transform Your Health.