“ Like Heroine, cocaine and caffeine, sugar is and addictive, destructive drug, yet we consume it daily in everything from Cigarettes to bread” –William Duffy, author of sugar blues
What is it about sugar that we all love, crave, and desire. Is it that sweet delectable taste?, the feeling that it gives us when it hits our tongue?, or is it that we find it too hard to stop and just seem to crave more and more.
The United States is the largest consumers as well as importers of sweeteners and sugars in the world. The average American consumes now on average, one hundred pounds of sugar and sweeteners per year ( that’s about 30 teaspoons / day!).
Lets take a look at sugar and what it really is.
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate. It occurs naturally in some foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, and beans. These types of sugar have all the good stuff in them such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, and enzymes. When we eat them they break down and enter our blood stream where they can be burned in a smooth and balanced way. It gives us lasting energy and also helps our brains cells to function.
But this isn’t the type of sugar that is causing obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, migraines, arthritis, suppresses the immune system ( the list goes on) It’s the refined sugar (added sugar) that is the culprit. It’s the cakes, cookies and the candy, as we all know but it is also hiding in some other foods like, tomato sauce, peanut butter, baby food, bread, cereals, canned vegetables, and cigarettes. Even so called “health foods” have large amounts of sugar in them. i.e.: A cliff Bar has 21 grams of sugar ( 5 teaspoons), or what about that Starbucks Frappuccino with 44 grams ( 10 teaspoons).
Sugar not only causes many health and weight issues, but what’s worse is that it is totally addicting. Once you’re hooked, look out!.
Why? Well for one, sugar triggers a chemical once it hits your tongue called dopamine. This signals your brains reward center and makes you feel ever so good. But by constantly eating too much sugar dulls this feel-good response, so it takes larger amounts of sugar to get that “ever so good” feeling back —this means the more sugar you eat, the more sugar you need.
Artificial sweeteners are just as bad, as studies have linked aspartame and saccharin to different forms of cancer. Their ingredients range from phenylalanine, aspartic acid, as well as multiple neurotoxins. Symptoms such as headaches, blurred vision, eye problems, insomnia, joint pain, numbness, gastrointestinal disorders, fatigue, nausea, and so many other health risks.
Lets face it, a teaspoon of sugar will not harm you but the over use of it will. It has become such a common additive it is difficult to avoid it, even if your trying to.
A few tips to avoid sugar or the craving would be to:
- Read the labels
- Don’t skip meals
- Avoid sugary drinks
- Learn about other healthy sweetener options( stevia, agave, honey,black strap molasses)
- Keep some fruit around
- Make sure to have some protein in your day
- Eat healthy fats
- Get rid of sugary treats in your home
- Drink lots of water
By cutting out refined sugar, or at least cutting back, you will be helping your health,your heart, your waistline and you just may fall back in love with the natural sweetness of real fruit.
By Lisa Fallon Mindel CHHP, AADP