I acknowledge that I’m not going to make any friends with this post. It’s probably going to piss a few people off, turn a few people off, frustrate a few people, annoy a few people… but at least I’m being honest.
I don’t drink juice. Orange juice, apple juice, rooty rooty fresh and fruity juice, whatever. I don’t drink it.
I have my reasons, though.
A while back, I wrote this:
To be honest, I don’t know whether there’s much purpose to a “reasons to forgo food with added sugar” rant, simply because it breaks down to an understanding of “natural sugar” against “processed sugar.”
Okay, here goes.
In nature, the primary place you find sugar is in fruit (there’s also honey, but we’ll save that for another day.) The sugar in fruit is… fructose.
Sidebar: This, I presume, is why people always ask if they should “stop eating fruit,” mixing the anti-high fructose corn syrup message up with the understanding that fructose is a “natural sugar found in fruit.” There’s a big difference between the two.
Whenever you find fruit in nature, it is paired with two things: nutrients and fiber. Emphasis on the fiber. The fiber within the fruit blunts the impact of the sugar on your system and helps cleanse your insides out at the same time.
The further we take sugar out of its natural context – meaning, the further we take sugar from its origins… granulated sugar and sucanat from sugar cane, beet sugar, etc – the more problematic it becomes. Why? Because there’s no fiber. There’s very little in pure sugar that can fill us up, and since our body is always sifting through the food we’ve ingested and looking for nutrients, you’d be eating a sugary snack for quite a while before you became full. Not like there’s anything nourishing in it to fill you up.
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This, I believe, is why the soft drink industry is always talking about how “soft drinks are no different from fruit juice.” They’re both sugary drinks taken out of the context in which they’re originally found. They’re both sugary substances with no fiber and limited nutrients. By applying that logic, both should be avoided.
Don’t get me wrong – on a scale of “bad” to “OMG HORRIBLE DEATH LIQUID,” a juice that comes directly from squeezed fruit isn’t on the “death liquid” side. Soda pop, however…. I’m sayin. It can clean the rust off a penny. Juices with artificial flavoring AND artificial coloring? It’s a chemistry experiment with salt (check that out next time you drink it… they almost all have salt.) Juices from concentrate… a little better, but not quite as nutritious as their non-concentrated counterparts.
(What does “from concentrate mean?” It means a fruit juice was taken, had the water extracted from it (?!), and stored away so that it could have the water added back at a later date. Sometimes you can purchase the “concentrate” in the freezer aisle of your grocery store. Sometimes, you can buy a “fruit juice” that says “from concentrate” on the label. Juices from concentrate are often cheaper, though not by much.)
For me, it was also about a lot more than just nutrition and keeping a flat tummy. I was using juices to further my addiction to sugar. Taking in a substance that had “everything meant to fill me up” removed from it, especially when that substance is full of sugar, only allowed me to gorge myself on the sweet stuff. And let’s face it – when you have a full on sugar addiction, anything sweet will suffice.
Like I wrote before:
Having said all of that, I cringe a little on the inside when people talk about how they “can’t give up” or “can’t live without” or justify use of a certain food… because that is addiction talk. I know… it’s not cocaine, it’s not alcohol, it’s not heroin. I get it. But I’m not certain that it’s that different. In fact, science has long said that the reaction that sugar causes in the brain is equal to that of heroin or cocaine, and causes us to crave it for the high… crash when it’s low. Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s a vicious cycle… and every time I give in it, it makes it that much more difficult to say “no” the next time I encounter the opportunity to give in.
It’s even more strange when people acknowledge that they go through “withdrawals” when they don’t get their “daily fix,” but don’t acknowledge that cycle as an addiction. That is particularly strange. Perhaps that’s because so much of society is addicted to sugar and exhibits the same behaviors, that it seems so common. That’s the only reason I can guess.
That’s a big part of why emotional eating exists – because sugar (in proper conjunction with fat and/or salt) provides a high that is comparable to that of any other narcotic. And because we become used to the high, it causes us to eventually crave more and more… and more… and before we’ve even noticed it we’re gaining weight and suffering from illnesses we’ve never dealt with before.
Excerpted from: What Is Sugar Addiction? | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss
And, because of all that, I say no to juices. I used to give myself an allowance for whenever I was sick. That was my green light to drink all the OJ I needed… but would it lean me back toward my sugar addiction once the “sick” was gone? I no longer wish to risk it. Besides, I’m not interested in drinking my calories. If I become sick (which, I have to admit, is a rarity lately), I’ll eat my oranges.
I believe, in my heart of hearts, that this was the most important part of my success. Being able to get away from my sugar addiction meant not only that I could regain control of my emotions (I wasn’t high off sugar, and then miserable and moody once the high came down), but that I could regain my ability to say no.I can say no, not because I’m “watching my figure,” but because I’m protecting myself from falling back down the rabbit hole.
I’ll keep it funky, though – I do want to watch my figure, too. All my hard work doesn’t need to go down the toilet because the fruit punch tastes yummy. And by hard work, I mean both building my body and kicking my unhealthy mental attachments to food. It’s not worth setting myself back physically or mentally.
I say all that to say… I had to spend a lot of time considering what I was drinking. I drank a lot of calories, a lot of sugar and a lot of money (because properly made juices are not cheap) unnecessarily. I wasn’t getting any fiber. It was a lot to waste on something that wasn’t even filling me up. I made the decision to let go of the juice and simply eat the fruit (and if the juice doesn’t come from an identifiable fruit, well…) and I’ve been happier for it.
Am I the only one?