Do you find yourself craving sugar? Reaching for the usual cup of sweet coffee in the morning? Do you cave into the daily soda “pick-me-up” or chocolate snack?
Is it possible that you’re addicted to sugar? If yes, then you are a sugar junkie!
We’ve heard it before and seen it on product labels at the supermarket. Companies advertising “sugar-free” products left and right. What exactly does this mean and why should we be cutting back on sugar?
Sugar can lead to a number of issues: skin problems, thyroid issues, obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic issues, dementia and fatigue. I can go on for a lifetime about why we should watch our sugar intake, but the best thing for us to know is how to navigate our way through life with our daily “sweet obstacles.” It is one thing to know that sugar can harm our health and another thing to act upon this knowledge.
For years, studies have indicated that our blood sugar falls after consuming carbohydrates like: cookies, candy, white bread, etc. This impacts the area of our brain that controls impulses, thus causing us to lose self-control and crave more of these unhealthy carbohydrate foods.
Now that you know the harm sugar can cause, and why we’re so drawn to these sources of sugar, I want to offer you a few tips to help you and your loved ones make healthier choices when it comes to sugar intake.
Keep in mind, every little bit counts.
Know how much is too much! According to a report from the 2005–10 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), Americans consume roughly 20 teaspoons of sugar a day. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 100 calories of added sugar per day (about 6 teaspoons), and no more than 150 calories per day for men (about 9 teaspoons).
No added sugar. Avoid adding spoons and packets of sugar to coffee, tea and cereals. If you must add sugar to these items everyday, then try to reduce intake to only once a day versus 4 cups a day. This will help you dramatically reduce sugar intake.
Reduce intake of processed foods. Processed foods such as cookies, bagels and pastries are packed with added sugar, which turns into fat. So the next time you feel a sweet craving coming on and you’re watching your waistline, opt for low glycemic fruits including grapefruit, berries and apples. Go for low-fat options rather than fat-free, as fat-free usually means more sugar.
Stop drinking your calories! The average 12 oz. can of soda contains about 39 grams of sugar. That’s almost 10 teaspoons in 1 can alone! Sodas, juices and dessert shakes can add up in calories real quick. Not to mention that sugars destroy the enamel on our teeth, which leads to tooth decay.
Portion distortion When all else fails, try to make sure you watch your portions. For example, when I feel a sugar craving coming along I grab a pre-packaged serving of 2 oz. chocolate. Keep the wrapper on your desk or table to hold you accountable for the servings you just had. When we tell ourselves we will only eat half that brownie or just one cookie, we may be setting ourselves up for failure. It is best to avoid the temptation all together and go for one pre-portioned serving.
Read the nutrition labels: Take the grams of sugar and multiply by 4 to get the approximate total calories from sugar. Then take the number of grams and divide by 4 to get the approximate number of teaspoons. Don’t forget that food labels give you information based on servings.
Remember, it’s all about mindful eating. If we know what sugar does to our bodies, we can use that knowledge and apply it to our daily eating habits. Instead of grabbing that muffin at your corner bakery, opt for fresh fruit, which contains natural sugar. If you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, start The Fresh Diet today.
I challenge you to make at least one sweet improvement this week. We’d love to hear about it below!
Have a sweet day,
The Fresh Diet Lead Nutritionist, Trishna Joshi
The Fresh Diet Contributing Writers, Andreina Nieves (Marketing Intern) and Natalie Leon (Director of Communications)