Updated: Nov 9, 2019
If you'd like to be freaked right out about the evils of sugar in our society, then you need to read Gary Taubes' 2016 book The Case Against Sugar.
It's both fascinating and terrifying. Taubes lays out the most well-researched case against the health impact of the sugar itself and the social impact of the very clever efforts of the sugar industry. I absolutely recommend that anyone and everyone read this book (along with his others Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat). He coalesces several centuries of nutrition science and gives you pretty much everything you'd ever need to know about nutrition to make good choices for the rest of your life. The best part is that none of Taubes books are gimicky diet books. He's a science writer, not an weight loss guru promising you the next quick fix.
At one point in The Case Against Sugar he poses the question "is there a safe number of cigarettes? is there a safe amount of alcohol?". The answer of course is that we'll never know and also that it doesn't matter. When something is a known toxin that takes years or even decades to manifest its damage, what is the point in even talking about a safe daily dose?
Both sugar and alcohol are known toxins. The have numerous negative health consequences, they're both known to lead to behavioral changes, and chronic consumption will almost certainly lead to an early death. While the body has the capacity to process them, there is no "recommended daily intake" for either. Look at any nutrition facts label. Beside "sugar" under the % of Daily Value there is nothing listed. That's because there is no amount that you should eat every day.
I love tequila and I will enjoy the heck out of a good margarita under the right circumstances. But there are plenty of times throughout my daily life that I don't want a margarita. Like 8am on a Tuesday or the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday while I'm at work. If you offered me one I would say no. And I would not be saying no out of self control or some sort of attempt at restriction. I would be saying no because I genuinely did not want one. But a sunny Saturday on the patio at my favorite Mexican restaurant with a bowl of fresh guacamole sitting in front of me, you bet I'm going to say yes to a margarita (maybe more than one!).
For years I followed a carb-backloading style of eating - protein and fat all day with a "carb up" meal at night after training was done. Scientifically, the premise is to replenish lost muscle glycogen, spike insulin levels high (although briefly) for quick absorption and stimulate the production of IGF-1 (a growth factor to help with muscle gain). But what the nightly carb binges were really about was getting my fix of the white stuff. I would think all day about what treats I would indulge in that night. My willpower could get me through a day, but I'd always have a plan mapped out for post-workout gummies, maybe a cookie, or some pasta. The cashier at the gas station started to recognize me because of my frequent late evening stops for 5cent candies. Of course, this just meant I had to spread out the convenience stores that I frequented.
Now, take everything I said in the last paragraph and replace the thoughts on sugar with alcohol...
I wake up thinking about when I get to drink next.
I can hold off through the day, but I always have a plan mapped out for getting drunk every night.
I frequent the liquor store so much that the cashiers recognize me. So I just started to going to different liquor stores.
Anyone that read that would be like girrrrrrrrrrrrrrl you need help. That is not a healthy relationship with alcohol!!
What I was, was a functional sugarholic.
Since going keto in 2017, my goals has been to establish the same relationship with sugar that I have with alcohol. I'm not a daily drinker, and I'm no longer a daily sugar consumer. Under the right circumstances, I will indulge and enjoy it, but I do not go through my everyday life plagued with cravings and thoughts of when I'll get my next fix.
When you start to think of sugar and alcohol as toxins on a similar level, you see how dependent the average person is on their fix.
People at the Tim Horton's drive through at 8am getting a double double and a donut - ordering a breakfast shot of tequila.
Popping a soda at break time to perk up for the afternoon - cracking a beer at work just to get through the rest of the day.
Buying a case of juice boxes for the kids - buying their kids a six pack of beer and sending it to school in their lunch.