Sugar: Learn Why We Crave It And The Connection Between Good Nutrition And A Healthy Recovery

National Geographic is not always about lions, tigers and bears

national geographic magazines

In case you didn’t realize it, this year the National Geographic Society is celebrating 125 years of exploration and come this October they will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the publication of their first monthly magazine. Depending on your age you may be familiar with the magazine. Maybe your parents or grandparents had a subscription, or a neighbor, or your school…or maybe you regularly saw the current issue at your public library or a waiting room. It might surprise you to know that a yearly subscription is still only $39.  And of course, National Geographic has a wonderful informative website and an educational television channel that covers topics from history to exploration, crime, religion, drugs, war…, etc.

NGM August 2013 cover story: “Sugar: Why We Can’t Resist It”

Do you see that enticing cupcake on the NGM cover above?  You might like to know that cupcake probably contains 800 calories – it has a lot of butter in the batter and icing and let’s not forget the sugar.  When our copy of the latest edition arrived we were taken in by the cupcake photograph and quickly paged to that section of the magazine…thumbing past the articles on lions, underwater secrets of Maya and painted elephants of India.

As you get to page 78, this fabulous surreal photo appears of fried dough being sprinkled with sugar …”Sugar Love (A not so sweet story).” Here’s a bit of what you can learn by just reading the photo captions:

  • Today’s 12-ounce soda typically contains between 7.9 and 10 teaspoons of sugar
  • Cotton candy is nothing more than colored sugar
  • The average American eats 22.7 teaspoons of sugar per day
  • 3 tbsps. of Ketchup has 1.77 teaspoons of sugar
  • 3 Oreo cookies has 2.49 teaspoons of sugar
  • 8 ounces of low-fat fruit yogurt has 6.16 teaspoons of sugar
  • In the late 1800s cereals were presented as whole-grain health foods, by the 1920s they were evolving into sugar-coated flakes, pops and puffs
  • Americans spent $32 billion on sweets in 2011, per capita consumption was 25 pounds

The article is researched and written by Rich Cohen and the photographs are by Robert Clark. Mr. Cohen offers a rich and detailed history of sugar dating back some 10,000 years. And near the end of the article he asks: “If sugar is so bad for us, why do we crave it? The short answer is that an injection of sugar into the bloodstream stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain that respond to heroin and cocaine. All tasty foods do this to some extent—that’s why they’re tasty!—but sugar has a sharply pronounced effect. In this sense it is literally an addictive drug.”

Healthy recovery and understanding healthy nutrition…

Good nutrition is an important, though often overlooked, component of a healthy recovery from addictions and mood disorders. At Cottonwood, our behavioral health dieticians work with patients in developing nutritional plans that ensure that they will have sufficient amounts of the right nutrients to promote clear thinking and a stable, happy and confident mood. Our nutritionists also collaborate with Cottonwood chefs and culinary staff to create a menu that supports the neurobiological needs of all of our patients. We believe that a good recovery nutrition plan should be individualized and flexible. This is important because each Cottonwood patient has different taste preferences, food traditions, and metabolic biology. To achieve long-term success, our recovery nutrition plans take into consideration, not only the science of nutrition, but also each patient’s individual life style and nutritional preferences.

Though an individualized approach is important, it’s also necessary to bring consistency and balance to eating. At Cottonwood, consistency and balance are the watchwords for nutrition in recovery, an approach that works well for both men and women. In our Arizona drug rehab, we advocate that those recovering from substance addictions and mood disorders eat three or more smaller meals a day; each meal comprised of an optimal mix of carbohydrate, protein and fat. We know that eating in a balanced way helps keep blood sugar stable, and results in a steady supply of energy, improved focus and concentration, a more stable mood and decreased cravings for sugar, refined carbohydrates and other chemicals that can undermine the brain’s ability to produce a stable, happy mood.

Over the years we have often talked about the importance of good nutrition and recovery.  And it so happens when we saw the National Geographic cover story we just couldn’t resist sharing this with our readers.

P.S. For the record, today is National Ice Cream Day!

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