Tuesday, 29 December 2009

I'm a secret lemonade drinker...

R. White's, R. White's! I'm a trying to give it up-a but it's one of those nights, R. White's, R. White's! R. White's lemona-a-ade. I'm a secret lemonade drinker...*fade to outtro*

Who remembers the above advert about a man in striped pyjamas creeping downstairs to raid the fridge for R. White's Lemonade and getting caught in the act? It reminds me of another advert currently running for Crunchy Nut Cornflakes where a man is caught eating someone else's Crunchy Nut Cornflakes in the middle of the night having been overheard on a baby monitor. Having had his bowl confiscated, the sound of sobbing is heard on the monitor, which is thrown into a drawer to muffle it. "The trouble is they taste too good!"

Do the above examples sound a bit like drug addicts trying/failing to get their fixes? As Dr John Briffa commented on Losing the taste for sweetness trumps using ‘healthy’ sweeteners, in my book, "Most animals, it turns out, chose saccharin over cocaine. Blimey."

Blimey, indeed! See Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward. Why is this? A possible explanation lies in Hypoglycemia & Neurosis.

"Who is drawn to such "peculiar" diets? The answer, it seems, is those who crave relief from repressed pain and stress in their lives. Sugar somehow elicits the secretion of the body's "feel-good" endorphins, so much so that the pain threshold of baby rats almost doubles. The blood of newborn human babies is routinely sampled by heel prick, a painful procedure that usually causes crying. However, after sugar is given, the tears are brief. Beta-endorphin levels increase in binge-eaters (Blass 1987-1995, Fullerton 1985), which may be why they over-eat.

However, endorphins eventually fall in chronically sugar-fed rats, and their pain thresholds fall with them (Roane 1990). In other words, you need more and more sugar to get the same relief, until you're in Betty Crocker country and your diet has become "peculiar." This kind of "habituation" is found in all opiate-mediated addictions, including chronic alcoholism (Genazzani 1982), in which opiate-like isoquinolones are formed from a breakdown product of alcohol and the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Endorphins, our self-made opiates, have receptors in brain structures mediating emotional feelings as well as those dealing with physical sensations of pain and stress. The sense of urgency we experience with a full bladder is caused by low endorphins. Babies who are breast-fed often appear ecstatic, and this state coincides with high levels of endorphins. In adults, there are high levels of endorphins during and after orgasm. Thus, endorphins motivate as well as providing comfort and gating pain. And they are among the most addictive substances on the face of the planet. So perhaps it's not so surprising that "20 percent [of hypoglycemics] give a history of intense, insatiable and irresistible craving for sweets and carbohydrates" (Buehler 1955), while the rest are strongly attached to their "peculiar" diets. Hypoglycemics are unwittingly trying to self-medicate their profound subconscious malaise with food.

A Canadian who was diagnosed hypoglycemic years ago told me that he was left to cry for the first eight months of his life, until his mother found that sweetened condensed milk comforted him. From then on, he had vast quantities of sugar. In therapy, he realized sugar comforted the buried desolation imprinted in him by his early deprivation, and that eating too little food was a symbolic recreation of this trauma."

As for me, when I was little, I remember eating Rusks, which were very sweet. I also recall getting a regular supply of French fancies and Corona lemonade, which were also very sweet. As we were quite poor, mum used to spend hours on a typewriter doing secretarial stuff to raise extra money. I found comfort in sweet foods. I now have a "sweet tooth" and get great pleasure from eating. Coincidence?

Modern baby formulas are crammed with sugar.

Another Quality Street, anyone? Or how about a wafer-thin mint?

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