My best Christmas gift this year arrived while writing this article. I’m addicted to added sugars such as corn syrup in candy and refined sugar in fudge. The depth of my self-deception that I control my addiction is disturbing.
Most of my life I’d bought sweets to distribute from Christmas to Halloween and in between, but I’d snack on them throughout the day.
Karen correctly harped on me that I was damaging my health. I rationalized it by saying sugar is only a problem when gorging on it sends insulin surges into bloodstreams that damage the liver and brain, but I avoided surges with steady levels of glucose. Yesterday I had to admit I am damaging my health.
Virginia Mason Hospital and Medical Center says the upper limit of blood glucose is 99 mg/dL.
“A fasting blood glucose between 100-125 is diagnosed as pre-diabetes, meaning you are at high risk of developing diabetes,” it says.
I checked my scores. On August 13, 2013 my blood glucose was 116. My last ten tests have averaged 114. I have been in denial even though I’d read each test result.
My denial is because I’d cut back with Karen’s urging. For example, ten years ago during Christmas I cut back on large frosted sugar cookies to three per meal including breakfast, and only one between each meal, including a midnight snack. That reduced my intake to 150 grams of added sugar.
The American Heart Association recommends men limit daily intake to 36 grams. The Mayo Clinic warns against excess consumption.
“We do know … that too much added sugar can contribute unwanted calories that are linked to health problems,” it said. “All of these [health problems] can boost your risk of heart disease.”
I developed heart disease within the last five years.
At that time I cut back even more by no longer buying frosted sugar cookies, soda pop, egg nogg, pies, cakes and ice cream with chocolate sauce. But I’ll eat a free cookie any time anywhere I pass by a plate of cookies..
Worst of all, I found a loophole to hoard and consume chocolate: dark chocolate is reportedly healthy. I eat two squares after lunch and dinner with peanut butter.
Unless I have a stash of milk chocolate, in which case I treat myself to those first as a reward because of my disciplined dark chocolate consumption. I have dark chocolate bars I bought months ago.
Our house is currently stuffed with chocolate because I’ve made donations and graciously refuse to reject gifts of milk chocolate. I make donations to a fair trade program by buying bars of dark chocolate and my granddaughter’s Girl Scout program by buying a year’s supply of chocolate/peanut butter cookies.
I never reject gifts of chocolate which everybody knows I love, such as fudge my daughter left when she was here at Thanksgiving and milk chocolate truffles my children gave me at our anniversary two weeks ago.
We also have six cookie sheets of fudge Karen and I made to distribute this Christmas.
My job is stirring sugar and evaporated milk as it boils. I stared at the mound of sugar in the cooking pot before Karen added milk. That image led me to ask what sugar is doing to me and others.
“How much sugar is in each batch?” I said.
“4.5 cups,” she said.
That’s five to six grams of sugar per piece, not counting sugar from the semi-sweet chocolate chips in each cookie sheet. We use semi-sweet because Karen says if we used sweet chocolate chips the fudge tastes too sweet.
Every day for weeks after Christmas, the fudge I’ve eaten has had more than 35 grams of added sugar, the American Heart Association’s upper limit.
The evidence is overwhelming. I’m addicted to added sugars and it’s damaging my health.
My Christmas gift this year is admitting I’m a sugar addict and I can’t control it by myself. I’m going to get help from everyone I can.
Unless they convince me it’s OK to wait until after Christmas with the donations we’ll be giving and gifts we’ll be receiving.