Have you ever eaten a meal only to find yourself hungry again a short while later? Are you always tired and experiencing highs and lows in terms of your energy levels? You know, the ones where you feel like you can take on the world, but a few hours later you’re ready for a nap?
You may have a case of the Sugar Blues. As Americans, we eat too much sugar. Way too much as a matter of fact. On average, we consume 150-200 total pounds of sugar per year, with 66 pounds of that added sugar! That’s almost half a cup of added sugar every single day. It’s no wonder we’re hungry, tired, sick, and anxious all the time. Our pancreas is in overdrive trying to produce enough insulin to keep our blood sugar levels down.
It’s not all our fault though, sugar is added to nearly everything! One of the biggest culprits is our beverages. Did you know your typical “vitamin-enhanced water” has over 7 teaspoons of sugar in it?!
Sugar is also going incognito. There are over 60 names for sugar! Some common names include agave nectar, barley malt, beet sugar, blackstrap molasses, brown rice syrup, cane juice crystals, cane sugar, caramel, coconut palm sugar, corn syrup, date sugar, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, golden syrup, grape sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltodextrin, maple syrup, molasses, powdered sugar, raw sugar, rice syrup, sorghum syrup, turbinado sugar. When you see any of these on your label, know it’s added sugar.
What Are Some Signs That You’re Consuming Too Much Sugar?
Fat isn’t the only culprit in making us fat. The real culprit in weight gain is added sugar! When you see items labeled “Low Fat” or “Fat-Free” that typically means they contain a good amount of added sugar. If they didn’t, how else would it taste so good? When given a choice, choose the regular fat item instead of the fat-free option. Chances are one will be lower in sugar.
Low or bad mood
This is why it’s called the Sugar Blues. Too much sugar has been shown to cause everything from low mood to anxiety to depression.
Sugar can weaken the immune system, and as a result, can make us more susceptible to bacteria and viruses.
This consists of abdominal obesity and visceral fat, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance. Rates of metabolic syndrome are rising rapidly and may soon overtake smoking as the leading preventable risk factor for heart disease.
Tips For Reducing Sugar Consumption
Make some cooking changes. Can you slightly reduce the sugar in a few of your favorite recipes and still achieve the same taste? Try cutting the sugar down by half the next time you make your favorite recipe.
Reevaluate your “healthy” choices. Labels like “non-GMO” and “organic” don’t mean low sugar. Even if it’s organic, sugar is sugar, and too much isn’t good for your body. Our general rule is single digits for sugar. If the item contains 10 grams or more, consider it a treat and eat it in moderation.
Check the labels. Don’t just check how many grams of sugar are on the nutrition label. Be sure to also check the ingredients to see if any sugar is added (use the list above). Remember, when looking at an ingredients list, items used in the greatest amount are listed first. Those at the end are the smallest amounts.
Take baby steps. If you consume a lot of sugar, cutting it all out at once can be challenging. Try small steps such as not adding sugar to your coffee, cereal, etc. Swap some of your sweet treats with sweet fruits. While there is still sugar in fruit, it also contains fiber which will help you feel full, reducing the desire to overeat.
Rethink the holidays. Plan ahead to reduce the sugar you use in recipes. For Halloween, try giving trick-or-treaters non-candy items like temporary tattoos, stickers, or little toys instead.
Eating too much added sugar can be detrimental to your health—it’s associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Challenge yourself today to eat less sugar and reap the health benefits; your body will thank you!