Tag Archives: food

Oreos are as addictive as cocaine

Yesterday I went grocery shopping, and as I was walking down the cookie aisle -salivating like a good Pavlovian dog- I heard someone mention a recent study that found that ‘oreos are as addictive as cocaine’. I had seen the headlines, of course, and I had found them amusing and bordering on the absurd, but at the same time I was worried about what those headlines seemed to suggest: ‘oreos are as bad as cocaine’, and that’s where the difference kicks in… not that the similarities along the addiction line can be stretched as far as that headline would seem to suggest.

Yes, sugar tickles the same pleasure centers of the brain as drugs do, that has been known for a while (hence the ‘salivating like a good Pavlovian dog’ bit), but while we can be said to crave both substances to a certain extent, there is a difference both in term to how we are likely to respond to being unable to get a ‘fix’ are, and in terms of the damage the substance in question does to our bodies.

Simply put, most people I know can skip their daily cookie fix without displaying any obvious withdrawal symptoms, and -diabetics not withstanding- the likelihood that you will eat enough oreos in one sitting to kill yourself are… well, they are pretty much nil.

And if you are wondering if my passionate defense of the blasted things means I’m secretly in the employ of the food industry, let me reassure you that that is not the case. My defense of the cookie industry has to do with something more fundamental than that: even though I am not particularly keen on oreos, I do have a massive sweet tooth, and I am not to happy about the growing criminalization of sugar I see all around me. Yes, I realize that we should try to exercise some self-control in that regard (or maybe that we should try to exercise, period), but while I am aware that sugar is not the healthiest of foods, putting it on the same level as cocaine -or even nicotine- is downright absurd, and I am not particularly fond of the fact that sweets have somehow been turned into a guilty pleasure… so excuse me while I go grab a cookie.

The healthiest meal is… no meal at all

And here we go again, with another pointless warning about why you should abstain from eating/drinking something you had always been told was good for you if you want to live a long, healthy life… come to think of it, if you were to listen to all those warnings you would probably have to give up food altogether. Anyway, the latest bit of nonsense that had me slamming my head against the nearest wall was an article on Yahoo about how unhealthy fruit smoothies happen to be (if you want to read it, you can find it here). Yes, smoothies have sugar in them, and sugar is not the healthiest of ingredients, but  that doesn’t mean that smoothies are poisonous or that they are ‘as bad as soda’, which is what the so-called-experts behind the study on which that article is based seem to claim.

The thing is that the presence of one or more unhealthy ingredients doesn’t cancel the benefits of the other ones. In fact even heath nuts acknowledge that chocolate has a number of health benefits (not the least of which is that is delicious and one of those things that make life worth living).

In other words, it’s not black and white, you can eat some sugar and that’s not likely to kill you (not unless you are diabetic). The key word here, in case you were wondering, is ‘some’. Besides, for all the dangers that experts keep reminding us are lurking in every mouthful, it is worth noting that there are few things you can eat as part of your regular diet that will kill as surely as not eating at all, so give yourself permission to enjoy your life, and if you want to have a smoothie or a piece of chocolate, go for it!