Testing audio upload using SoundCloud. This is a rough draft of Sara’s piece.


Hi, my name is Sara, and I’m an addict.

I’m not addicted to the hard stuff, like meth or cocaine.

No, I go for the soft stuff: chocolate-hazelnut cake with fluffy frosting, pancakes with whipped cream, caramel iced coffee… Heck, even M&Ms will do.

Sugar – that’s my drug. I’ve been battling it all my life.

When I was young, my mom would let us kids have ice cream for dinner sometimes when Dad was out of town. Chocolate sauce, marshmallow topping, maraschino cherries – a smorgasbord of sugar was laid out on the kitchen table.

Later, I developed a habit of dipping Oreos in Cool Whip. In high school, trying to lose weight, sometimes I’d skip lunch – but eat a handful of candy instead.

I had an unhealthy relationship with food in general. Sugar was my greatest weakness. It was comfort food, suggesting all I needed to be happy was a scoop of ice cream. My weight crept up, and one day I found myself alone with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

Put down the spoon, I told myself. Food is not your only friend.

I resolved to change my life – and I did. I started exercising daily, radically cut back on portion sizes and threw out most sweets. I lost so much weight I had to buy all new clothes. On 40-mile bike rides, I’d carry snacks like raw almonds and grapes.

Over time, though, sugar began to sift back into my life. Pomegranate-flavored yogurt? Sure, that sounds healthy! Just don’t mind the 13 grams of sugar. How about a granola bar for breakfast? It’s got fiber! And chocolate chips! And 10 grams of sugar.

A peppermint mocha nets 60 grams of carbs. Birthday cupcakes for my son, swirled high with icing like bouffant hairdos – an untold cache of sugar.

I have come to realize I’m not alone in my addiction. Americans eat a huge amount of added sugars – a wheelbarrow full per person each year, according to federal data. This increase in sugar tracks with the epidemics of obesity and diabetes in our society. Some researchers say sugar isn’t just empty calories – it’s actually toxic and should be regulated like tobacco or alcohol.

I decided to go cold turkey about six weeks ago. No more added sugar, period. At first, it was really hard. Sugar is in so many products, from bread to spaghetti sauce – not to mention cookies and cakes.

But now, the natural sweetness of apples stuns me. I don’t crave dessert like I used to, and I eat less packaged food.

In the end, I believe we are what we eat. Sugar wasn’t making me sweet – it was just eating a hole in my life. With less sugar in my diet, I’ve discovered the real treat: a happier me.