The Sugar Monster

No. I’m not talking about YOU. I’m talking about sugar. Remember how last time I said “More on this later.” Well, this is later. 

Ask anyone who knows me, I’m not perfect. And definitely not when it comes to sugar. I have, more than once in my lifetime, eaten an entire half gallon of ice cream in one sitting. If you put gingerbread, or jelly beans, or a Costco Apple Pie within my reach, it will be devoured. And. In those moments of desperation (like immediately following finishing the exam equivalent to a college thesis), I BEG for Tiramisu. 

What Sugar Does to Your Body

I do my best to maintain a moderation mentality when it comes to treats. I really do. Just ask my coworkers how many times I pass up the delicious homemade cookies and breads and dessert bars brought into our office. But even with my best attempts, I am far from sugar-free. 

Sugar has a hold on us. It is in EVERYTHING. Trying to eliminate sugar proves to be one of the most difficult things any health-conscious person tries to do.

Of course we know candies and junks foods aren’t good for us. But, even when you think you’re making the “healthy” choice, you’re bound to be consuming sugar. Breads, peanut butters, low-fat yogurt, condiments and sauces, fruit juices and sports drinks, cereal and snack bars, canned fruits, canned beans and pre-made soups. They. ALL. Have sugar. 

In the US, “added sugars account for up to 17% of the total calorie intake of adults and up to 14% for children.” However, dietary guidelines suggest this number should be less than 10%. This much sugar is just bad for us. There is no other way about it. 

There are a number of issues sugar consumption is linked to:

Weight gain and obesity
Increased risk of heart disease
Higher risk of developing acne
Increased risk of heart disease
Increased risk of diabetes
Increased risk of certain cancers
Accelerated skin aging
Increased cellular aging
Drained energy
Increased risk of fatty liver
Negative impact on dental health
Increased risk of gout
Impaired memory and increased risk of dementia

 

Sugar is more addicting than Cocaine

 

While that list of health issues is nothing short of concerning. Here’s the kicker. At least in my opinion. A diet high in added sugar may increase your chances of developing mood disorders, including depression. 

Often times if we limit the sodas and junk foods, the breakfast cereals and desserts, we think we’re doing well in this regard. But, we have to pay attention to all of those other sources of added sugar. Those who eat the most baked goods are at a 38% higher risk of depression. Muffins, croissants, pastries, breads and other commercially prepared baked goods  can lead to increased risk of depression

We already know that regular exercise and a healthy diet are beneficial to our health. Both physical and mental. But, how do we release ourselves from the sugar monster?

The truth is, most of us are addicted. This sounds like a joke. But it’s real. We are addicted to sugar. 

Sugar Addiction Cycle

Start by paying attention. Look at labels. Track what you eat. Get an actual idea of how much added sugar you are consuming. Once you know what you’re currently doing, it makes picturing a goal a lot easier. Acceptance is the first step. You don’t have to become obsessive with your tracking, but be cognizant of what you’re consuming.

Then, start to eliminate. Some people go for a full elimination diet. They remove ALL sugar COMPLETELY. And then, re-introduce it into their diets. If this works for you, then by all means, take this route. However, many of us do better with cutting back. Remove what is not just unnecessary, but what doesn’t serve you. If you want a dessert, have a dessert. There is no reason to enter deprivation mode. But be honest with yourself about what you’re having and what that dessert is doing for you, and making you feel. 

Be mindful. Remove the added sugars and processed foods from your house. If it’s not in easy reach, it can’t be a mindless snack. Instead, fill your fridge and pantries with healthy go-to options. If healthy options are available, we’re less likely to go for the fast and convenient (usually much less healthy) products.  

Drink water. Drink more water. Keep drinking your water. 

Move your body daily. Use the sugars as fuels instead of storing fat. 

Get plenty of sleep. There is research showing that our sugar cravings are linked to our sleep patterns. So keep yourself on a regular sleep schedule, and get enough sleep. 

It isn’t easy – it’s an addiction. But your health may be dependent on it. 

Comment below, or reach out for more tips on breaking your sugar craving.

Yours in Health and Wellness,
Samantha

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