When life gives you lemons…

When life gives you lemons…

‘The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.’
Gloria Steinem


OK, I’m just going to say this.. Straight out.


It’s as addictive as cocaine and amphetamine.


Yup, that’s right. Just as addictive as the drugs you associate with recklessness, the people who squander money on junk, for a high that’s not real, ruining their health… Oh wait…

Hear the sound of a penny dropping…?

Yup. It’s true.

It’s been 10 years now since Princeton scientists discovered rats behave in exactly the same way, whether you feed them coke, speed or sugar water.

Sugar, just like cocaine and amphetamine, has a special relationship with the dopamine receptors in our brain. The Princeton psychologists concluded that sugar releases dopamine into the nucleus accumbens in a similar way to these drugs.

Feel yourself resisting this knowledge? Then welcome to the world of an addict in denial.

Once upon a time, back in the 1990s, I had a friend with a pretty regular cocaine habit who insisted, with a completely straight face, that cocaine wasn’t bad for you. Now maybe he wasn’t addicted but cocaine is not good for our bodies. Ok, maybe high in the Andes, a couple of coco leaves sucked in the corner of your mouth will help you manage altitude sickness, but in its refined form, absolutely not.

And just as cocaine is refined, so sugar is refined. Would gnawing on sugar cane have the same impact on your mood as a can of full fat coke? It’s the refining process thats the issue.

I could write for hours about how sugar wrecks your teeth, your arteries, liver, kidneys… the obesity risks, type 2 diabetes, amputated limbs… but you know this stuff. Same as you know cocaine isn’t a healthy lifestyle choice.

Now not everyone gets addicted to sugar. Some people can take it or leave it. And frankly, in a famine scenario all those ‘Oh, I forgot to eat today’ people would be toast. 

Most of us are designed to survive food shortages, just not the 21st century fast food, muffins (let’s face it, they’re cake) for breakfast, cookies with coffee, constant grazing culture we’re living/dying with. 

Our brains are designed to crave sweetness because our brains are designed to keep us alive in environments we lived in thousands of years ago. Not for the post-World War 2 processed food revolution, fast food a-go-go lifestyles we pick our way through now.

My grandfather was Irish. I am descended from people who got though a potato famine. We did not survive by being fussy eaters.

I am well aware of my sugar issues.Today my sugar addiction lies in what I call ‘sugar in disguise foods’. 

Bread. I love freshly baked bread. German rye bread, fancy walnut bread, good old Italian … I’m salivating just thinking about it. Lashings of butter – oh my…

And yes, a slice would be fine. But can I stop at half a slice? No. Half a loaf? Possibly…

Because here’s another hard, cold truth… flour is sugar in disguise. It behaves in the body just like sugar. It is not good for you. In any form.

I learned how to make myself feel ‘better’ with sugar from an early age. I have an emotional response coupled with an addiction propensity. I know myself. I heal myself. And I get to help others heal too, which is incredibly satisfying.

Am I perfect? I am not. I’m a work in progress, but I do make progress. Eating well is a journey, not a final destination.

And I do believe finding calm around food is available to all of us.

So when life gives you lemons, DO NOT MAKE LEMONADE! 

Fizzy water with ice and a slice is what your body needs.