Sugar isn't poison. It isn't a drug. It isn't even bad for you.
Take that, medical establishment. Instead of demonizing the sweet treats we all love, Dr. David Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, an expert on sugar in the American diet, says desserts can be part of a healthy diet. Dr. Katz does not own a sugar company, he is the founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center; President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine; Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Childhood Obesity; Chief Science Officer for NuVal LLC; and director of the Integrative Medicine Center at Griffin Hospital
And get this — giving up sugar can be counter-productive. We crave sweet foods for a reason, they're a source of energy for our bodies.
"In a natural context, sweet foods fostered survival," he said. "Without glucose, wer're dead."
High sugar foods cause us to release that feel-good neurotransmitter, dopamine, but so does listening to music or walking on the beach, and you wouldn't stop those activities either.
It's important to remember that all sugar is not created equal. Bad sugar is primarily "added sugar," in other words, unnatural. Processed food is full of it. And you'd be shocked to find out how many salty foods contain it. Dr. Katz calls that stealth sugar because you don't realize you're consuming it. Manufacturers add it to stimulate your appetite.
Think pasta sauce, canned soups, packaged noodle dishes, crackers and even chips. If you want to experiment with trying to get rid of much of the sugar in your diet, start by eliminating it from the processed foods you eat like salad dressings and supposedly healthy breakfast cereals. You'll feel an immediate impact.
If nothing else, it will sensitize you to the sweetness in foods that shouldn't have it, making eating real sweets — brownies, ice cream, holiday cookies — a real treat.
Nixing sugar altogether "is just not necessary," said Dr. Katz.
Nothing in excess, most things in moderation.