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Do You Want Sugar with That?


Dr. Sheila Forman


food & cooking

Dr. Sheila Forman, a former practicing attorney, has PhD in psychology, and is a one of the first qualified Mindfulness Based Eating Awareness Training (MB EAT) Instructors in the world. Often characterized as having the mind of a lawyer and the heart of a therapist, Dr. Sheila has devoted over twenty years to helping people address weight and food issues by focusing on the emotional aspects of overeating.

Stand in line at any neighborhood coffee shop and you will hear people order creative concoctions that almost always include some sort of sweetener. Why? Well, some would argue that we are a nation of sugar addicts. While not an official diagnosis, sugar “addiction” can feel like the real deal.


There are many health risks of adding sweetener to coffee. They include increases in blood sugar which could lead to diabetes, increases in inflammation which could lead to cardiovascular disease and increases in mood destabilization which could lead to depression. Excess sugar can also lead to weight gain, including obesity, acne and cancer.


Sugar comes in many forms. Many people think of sugar as simple table sugar and believe that they are in fact not ingesting too much of the sweet substance. But sugar also comes in the form of molasses, caramel, carob syrup, honey, agave, and concentrated fruit juice to name a few.


Sugar in all its forms is ubiquitous and can be found in products such as bread, soup and yogurt. We may be eating much more sugar than just what’s in our sweetened café mochas.


Because we want our sweetness, we search for alternatives to the highly refined white sugar that we all know. Some healthy alternatives people use include stevia, xylitol, and monk fruit sweetener. The jury is still out on whether these substances are truly better for us.


How much sugar you want to eat, what kind of sweeteners you truly enjoy, and how much are individual decisions. To help you decide for yourself what, when and how much sugar to consume, try mindful eating. Mindful eating is choosing to eat (and drink) with awareness. It is possible that when you stop and really taste the coffee drink you are having you might discover that it is too sweet for you. We are so used to gobbling and gulping that we rarely give our taste buds a chance to really taste what is passing by.


Next time you are ordering your triple pump vanilla Frappuccino, take the time to savor it. Sit down and do nothing else but drink your drink. Then, decide for yourself if you really need 3 pumps of vanilla syrup. With mindful eating (and drinking) less is often more.

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