sugar

Sugar consumption has increased by more than 30 percent since then 1970s in adults and more than 20 percent for children. The World Health Organization recommends that no more than 10 percent of daily calories should come from added sugar, and ideally suggest less than 5 percent. This recommendation equals about 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams of sugar per day. The average American consumes approximately 22 teaspoons of sugar daily.

Research is starting to uncover that sugar is doing more damage than we may have thought. The dangers associated with sugar addiction are causing a substantial amount of health problems that include diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, fatigue, headaches, weakened immune system and some cancers. Among their findings, "The Journal of the American Medical Association" concluded that people who consumed more than 21 percent of daily calories from added sugar had double the risk of death from heart disease as those who consumed less than 10 percent of calories from added sugars

Sugar is addictive. A study at Princeton University showed that the effects of sugar on rats’ brains was similar to that of cocaine and heroin. If you feel you have a sugar addiction, try these strategies to help kick your sugar addiction to the curb.

» Add more protein. If you consume a meal or snack that is made of mostly carbohydrates or sugar, it digest more quickly causing your blood sugar to spike, which can lead to more sugar cravings. Protein helps slow the blood sugar spike and helps to keep blood sugars stabilized. Protein also keeps you full longer so you are not craving another snack shortly. Aim to get protein at each meal and snack especially if you are consuming a refined carbohydrate or sugar.

» Read labels. It is important to read labels because Americans consume more sugar than they realize from hidden sugars such as spaghetti sauce and salad dressing. Because sugar has been added to so many foods, we have become accustomed to this taste. We begin to crave sugar in our diets because we are getting it continuously from the foods we purchase. Become a label reader for every product you buy, if it contains more than 5 grams of sugar, for the whole serving, choose an alternative.

» Swap for naturally sweet foods. Fruit is the best way to get your sweet tooth fix naturally. Fruit does contain naturally sugar, but it also contains fiber (which helps slow a blood sugar spike), vitamins and minerals opposed to nutrition-depleted sugary foods.

» Go cold-turkey. For some, the best way to nix the sugar habit is to completely rid your diet of it. A “sugar cleanse” can be challenging in the beginning because you can have withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and fatigue, which shows just how addictive and damaging sugar can be. Once you overcome sugar withdrawals, your system and brain will crave sugar less and many completely rid their sugar cravings. When you train your taste buds and brain to not be dependent on sugar it is amazing how foods will begin to taste too sweet and you will prefer savory, wholesome foods.

» Get your “3's” at each meal. At meal times include a healthy fat, protein and healthy sources of carbohydrates (vegetables), which will help keep your blood sugars balanced. When you consume protein, healthy fats, and healthy carbohydrates at meals you will be less tempted to reach for the dessert because you will feel more satisfied because your blood sugars are stable.

» The more you consume sugar, the more you will crave it. It is that simple, the more you consume sugar, the more you want sugar. Become aware of just how much sugar you are consuming daily from drinks, snacks, breakfast and other meals.

» Have healthy options on hand. You are less likely to reach for the candy basket or vending machine at work if you have a healthy snack on hand. Keep foods like nuts, fruits and natural peanut butter on hand to turn to when you are craving a snack to prevent snacking on a sugary food.

Mandy Nix is a registered dietitian in Morganton who writes a weekly nutrition column for The News Herald. For questions, contact her at mandynix85@gmail.com.

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