Sugar is everywhere and in everything. That’s because it makes just about everything taste better. Food manufacturers load packaged food up with the sweet stuff not only to make it taste good but to keep you coming back for more.
It’s addictive. The more you eat the more you want. That helps the food manufacturers sell more product. It doesn’t help you on your journey to be healthier because too much added sugar can be very detrimental to your health. Does it really deserve this bad reputation?
Keep reading to find out.
Recommended daily amount
The American Heart Association recommends the average woman consume no more than 100 calories of this substance a day. That is about 25 grams of sugar or 6 teaspoons. To put things in context, a 12-ounce can of soda has 39 grams of sugar.
Drink 1 can and you’ve blown through your sweets budget for the day.
It comes in many forms such as granules, sauces, powder and syrup and has many names.
These alternate names may show up on the food package as 1 of the top 5 ingredient and you would be none the wiser.
Effects of sugar
Why is consuming too much added sugar bad for your health, including artificial sweeteners (non-nutritive sweeteners)? Because it has been known to cause the following:
- Causes excess fat around the belly and waistline which is linked to chronic diseases
- Causes weight gain
- Encourages aging and permanent wrinkling of the skin (once skin elasticity is gone it can’t be recovered)
- Spikes blood sugar
- Causes tooth decay (once enamel is gone, it can’t be recovered)
- Promotes insulin resistance which is linked to chronic diseases
- Contributes to high blood pressure
- Highly linked to chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and Type 2 Diabetes
Caveat – natural occurring sugar like what’s found in fruit is typically not as detrimental as added sugar because people rarely overeat fresh fruit, fruit has nutrients the body needs and fruit contains fiber which helps stabilize blood sugar levels that would otherwise get spiked by the sugar in fruit.
Warning – choose whole fruit over fruit juices because the whole fruit contains the fiber where it’s stripped from the juice and can cause severe blood sugar spikes
As mentioned above, sugar is addictive. Sugar affects the human brain when consumed by releasing the hormone dopamine into the blood stream which is the pleasure center hormone. It makes you feel good.
Every time you eat food high in added sugar this hormone is released. But there’s a catch. Over time it takes more dopamine to get you to your pleasure zone than previous which makes you want to overindulge in sweets.
It’s a vicious cycle because overindulging in foods high in sweets can cause the issues noted above. So how do you break the cycle and wean off of added sugar or greatly cut back?
Check out the following tips.
Starting preparing your own meals
It’s widely known that food prepared at fast food and sit-down restaurants contain a bunch of added sugar to enhance the taste. You can’t control what they put in there.
Your best bet is to prepare your own meals and determine how much sugar to add to balance the flavor. You will also consume less calories overall since fast food contains high amounts of fat and salt which pack on pounds.
Switch to water
You would be surprised how many calories from sugar store-bought drinks have. I won’t get into the numbers but just know the Starbucks cup of java can contain over 500 calories and the Panera Bread Green Smoothie I tried a few years back had over 50 grams of sugar and it was supposed to be healthy!
Drinking water not only helps keep your body hydrated, it’s zero calories. If your taste buds aren’t used to drinking plain water squeeze fresh lemon, orange or grapefruit. Add mint, smashed blackberries or cucumber.
Need some fizz, try some sparkling water with zero added sugar. If you need your morning coffee, begin to reduce the number of packets of sugar you add to it. Making a daily Starbucks run? Decrease the size of the cup, go less frequently or ask for healthier option switches.
Apple cider vinegar or ACV helps stabilize blood sugar levels so you don’t get as hungry as fast. Being hungry can cause you to grab the closest and sweetest thing which may not be optimal.
Consume ACV as a morning tonic as it also has other health benefits besides controlling appetites or use it as a base for your salad dressing mixed with a little salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). It will help you stay satiated longer.
Don’t let yourself get hungry
Eat on a timely basis and don’t let too much time lapse between meals because the hungrier you are, the greater the opportunity to reach for whatever is closes and sugary sweet food tends to always be close by.
When you eat, consume foods high in nutrients, fiber and protein. It will keep you fuller longer and the nutrients will give you energy which is the reason many give for eating sugary food and drink in the first place.
Manage your emotions
If we experience disappointment or get upset, many of us turn to sugary food and for good reason. The release we get from the sweet stuff helps soothe us and our emotions. If we are constantly stressed and upset, the more we indulge in this detrimental behavior.
Get a handle on your emotions by writing down your feelings in a journal, going for a walk to clear your mind or exercising to release your feelings. A good HIIT sweat sesh is also perfect for that.
Make sure to read labels on the side or back of the package. The per serving of sugar should not exceed more than 4 to 5 grams. No form of sugar should be the top 5 ingredient on the list. The ingredients are listed from greatest to smallest on the nutrition label.
Let’s Wrap Up
Incorporate these tips 5 tips to help you not only curb and kick the sugar addiction but improve on your health and waistline over time. It won’t be easy, and may feel like a struggle but make small improvements daily and over time you will realize you are eating less sugar, don’t crave it as much and are losing weight by consuming less calories.
That’s a WIN if ever I heard of one.
Which of these tips do you plan to incorporate into your daily sugar reduction routine?