Easing Your Sugar Intake
Too much of anything can be dangerous. Too much sleep causes low levels of energy, too much exercise can strain the muscles, and too much sugar can give you more than a toothache.
Why Too Much Sugar Is Bad For Your Body
At this rate, you probably already know that consuming too much sugar is bad for your health. If you’re used to a sugar-filled diet, then it may best to cut back on it as early as now to avoid future complications. It’s also possible that you’re not aware of the amount of sweetener that you’re consuming.
It’s a shared belief that the body’s number one enemy is fat. However, sugar is an equal culprit, if not more, and can have severe repercussions on your body when consumed in large amounts. Here’s what too much sugar can do to your health:
The first thing that you will notice when you consume too much sugar is the increasing number on the scale. It may come as no surprise that added consumption of sugar equals weight gain. According to research, people who go above their daily recommended intake gain about 1.7 pounds of weight in less than two months! Most of these extra pounds are because of the inflammation of the stored fat cells in our bodies. Too much sugar in the bloodstream triggers the reaction that gives us all these extra rolls.
We may not notice it, but sugar dramatically affects our moods. When we don’t get enough sleep, we often compensate for our low energy levels by consuming sugary and fatty foods. A candy or an energy drink may give us the quick boost that we need to get through the day. Unfortunately, these snacks are jam-packed with sugars or artificial sweeteners, both not good for the body. Besides, after the cells absorb the sugar in our bloodstream, it will lead to a feeling of extreme anxiousness, also known as the “sugar crash.”
Well, it turns out our parents were right – sugar does make our teeth rot. Sugar particles are so tiny that they can quickly get in between the crevices of our teeth and gums. Unluckily for us, the mouth is like the Grand Central Station for bacteria. It’s where they go before they’re distributed to different parts of the bodies. Some harmful bacteria get too comfortable and stay in our teeth, attracted by the sugary particles, and eventually develop into cavities.
If you’re cooking tonight with your partner, you might want to skip the dessert. Too much sugar cuts off our circulatory system, so it may be challenging to have an erection. Men who indulge in sweets are said to have higher risks for impotence. Not to mention, having sexual intercourse on a full stomach is not so enticing!
The pancreas is the organ responsible for producing insulin for our bodies. Insulin cells are the ones who deal with the sugar in our bodies and transform them into energies that we can use. Unfortunately, when we have too much sugar in our system, our pancreas works double-time to produce the insulin needed to deal with all the extra visitors. The organ becomes overworked, causing blood sugar levels to rise, and increases the risk for heart diseases and diabetes.
Sugary foods that we eat usually contain fructose or high fructose corn syrup, which is another fancy word for more sugar. Fructose is processed in our liver, but when our fructose levels increase beyond normal, our livers slow down and leave the extra fructose to turn into fat. Then. the fat builds up in the liver and causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. If left untreated, the fat will cut off the blood supply going into the liver and may leave the person in need of a liver transplant.
Just like salt, excessive consumption of sugar can also damage your kidneys. The kidneys are responsible for filtering our blood. When there is too much sugar to filter out, our kidneys have a hard time catching up, and the extra sugar goes straight to our urine. If we don’t control our sugar intake, it can eventually contribute to diabetes or kidney failure.
Although eating sugar gives us the feel-good hormone called dopamine, too much of it can be dangerous for your well-being. It is possible to be addicted to the good feeling and look for it more. This leads us to craving sugar at the oddest hours of the day, particularly when we are feeling low. We prefer this over vegetables and fruits because they don’t usually give the feel-good hormone that we want. When we indulge our cravings, it can be difficult to stop.
Fat isn’t the only thing worse for the heart. It turns out that sugar is just as deadly. The excess sugar in our bloodstream causes our insulin cells to work overtime and to disturb the arteries that pump the blood in our bodies. The most affected are the arteries near the heart, where inflammation is a constant risk, as well as thickening walls and unnecessary stress. Too much sugar strains the heart to pump abnormally, leading to heart disease, heart attacks, failures, and even a stroke.
How to Decrease Your Sugar Intake
To avoid future complications, we recommend limiting the sugars in your diet. This can be extremely difficult at first, primarily if you have been used to not reading the labels on your food. But fortunately, there are ways to help you cut down on your sugar intake.
Say Goodbye to Soda
The first thing to cross off your list is soda, and this includes all juice and energy drinks. These canned drinks are actually loaded with sugar. One 450 milliliter can of juice contains more than 49 grams of sweetener.
Your body doesn’t process the sugar we consume from drinks the same way it handles the sugar from meals. Plus, drinking doesn’t help us feel as full, so we might not be aware that we’re already consuming more than our daily sugar intake. It’s better to limit our fluids to water and herbal teas.
Limit Your Need for Cake
It’s hard to resist a delicious chocolate cake, but you must. Did you know that the desserts that we love so much (cakes, cookies, ice cream, etc.) are packed with so much sugar that has no added nutritional value? It’s said that these desserts alone are responsible for the 18 percent spike of sugar consumption in most American diets.
Even if it’s just a “treat,” we should never overeat when it comes to dessert. Not only will it cause our blood sugar to rise, but it will also lead to lethargy, more cravings, and low energy. If you feel the need to eat something sweet, opt for something healthier, like a piece of fresh fruit or sugar-free yogurt.
Say No to Sugar-Filled Sauces
It may sound surprising to some, but the sauces and condiments in our kitchen actually contain more sugar than we think. For example, one serving size (15 grams) of ketchup contains 4 grams, or one teaspoon, of sugar. However, we don’t really calculate how much ketchup we put into our food, so we may end up consuming more than the recommended 12 teaspoons a day.
Although some brands offer sugar-free sauces and condiments, there are still artificial sugars that manage to sneak their way into our foods. For a healthier option, you can always choose to leave the sugar out or pick an alternative. To liven up your meals, you can always go for herbs, chili, vinegar, or even pesto.
Increase Full-Fat Food
For years we’ve been told that fat is the enemy when it comes to weight loss. This leads us to purchase products that are considered low or non-fat to avoid unnecessary pounds. However, what these products lack in fat, they make up for the tremendous amount of sugar.
High sugar intake topples high fat intake as the number one cause for weight gain. Consuming low-fat products for the sake of lesser calories can actually set you back and undo what you intended in the first place.
Avoid Canned Goods
There’s a lot of reasons why people include canned goods in their weekly grocery trips. First, they are cheap, second, they are convenient, and third, they last longer than fresh products. Unfortunately, canned goods not only contain high sodium, but high sugar as well. Canned fruits and vegetables are not excluded from the list. They are either filled with artificial sweeteners or sugars disguised as syrup in their list of ingredients.
Whole Foods are Your Friend
There are three types of foods that you can include in your diet. There are whole foods, conventionally processed foods, and ultra-processed foods.
Whole foods are foods that have not been refined or processed. Standard processed foods have simple ingredients added to it, like bread and cheese. Ultra-processed foods contain ingredients that are not present in the typical household, like preservatives, emulsifiers, and artificial flavors.
What you want to avoid are ultra-processed foods. These foods are junk foods, fast food products, ready-made food from the grocery, etc. They usually contain high amounts of sugar and preservatives and have no nutritional value. Instead, we recommend loading up on whole foods like fruits and vegetables. These have little to no sugar content, and you can eat lots of them without having to worry about too many calories.
Don’t Be Fooled By “Healthy” Snacks.
Often, people choose a snack branded as “healthy” to limit their sugar consumption. But little do they know, choosing the so-called “healthy” option isn’t always a wiser decision. Many companies brand their products as a healthier or low-calorie option. While this may be true, they compensate by packing it with sugar.
For example, one granola bar can contain as much as 32 grams of sugar alone. Fresh fruits are also not exempted from this list. Fruits contain a lot of natural sugars. While fruits are a healthy addition to your diet, overeating of it can also spike up your natural sugar levels.
Label-Reading is a Must
Limiting your treats isn’t enough to cut down on your sugar intake. This is because tons of the products we buy have “hidden sugars.” These are sugars that are under a different name. While canned juice may state that it has “no sugar added,” what it may fail to mention is that there are other artificial sugars added into it. Additional terms for sugar include maltose, cane juice, or high-fructose corn syrup.
Sugar also manage to sneak their way into “healthy foods” like granola bars, cereals, and packaged dried fruit. It’s also present in energy drinks, breakfast drinks, and breakfast-type foods.
Leave the Sweets Out of Breakfast
Speaking of breakfast foods, it might be a good idea to leave out sweet breakfast-type foods. This means saying goodbye to waffles, pancakes, and the delicious Nutella spread. While these are satisfying to eat during the mornings, the energy they give off is basically founded on sugars and leaves little to no nutritional value.
For example, one serving size of cereal is enough to fill one day’s need for sugar at 50 grams. If you absolutely need to have something sweet, you can always opt for a low-sugar option for your meals. This can be oatmeal, plain yogurt, or one piece of fruit.
Sleep at Least 8 Hours Every Night
Sleep contributes many benefits for our bodies. For one thing, getting enough sleep means we get the energy to spend for the next day. When we have enough power for our bodies, we are likely to crave sugar that can substitute energy. It’s easier to want sweet stuff when our brains are foggy and incapable of making smart decisions.
Having enough shut-eye also encourages you to lead an active lifestyle. When you feel too tired during the day, it’s highly unlikely that you would want to exercise. Overall, sleeping at least seven to eight hours every night will likely decrease your sugar cravings.
Cut Down on Portion Sizes
Another way of cutting sugar and limiting calories is by controlling your portion sizes. If you find it challenging to remove sugar from your diet, you can always try this small step first. Instead of eating three candy bars a day, slowly reduce it to two bars and then one bar. Eventually, don’t include candies in your snacks anymore.
Watching your portion sizes is also an excellent way to lose weight because you will be more mindful of the calories that you eat. When you focus on the size of your food, you can adjust your body’s daily needs. This means you eat more of the vegetables and protein instead of the starchy carbs.
Practice the Habit of Drinking Tea
Drinking non-sweetened tea can act as a “nicotine patch” for your sugar cravings. Instead of reaching for a soda, opt for a cup of green tea. The taste is not for everyone, but if you give it a chance, you may be able to like it eventually. You can also settle for other types of tea like chamomile and lavender.
Tea has many benefits for the body. Not only does it curb your cravings, but it also helps you relax. This is why most people usually drink tea before they go to sleep.
Use Alternative Sweeteners
There is such a thing as sugar addiction. People can get addicted to sweets the same way that they can be addicted to smoking or drinking alcohol. The more we consume sugar, the more we experience the feel-good hormone that it releases. We become addicted to the feeling, and when we don’t eat sugar, we experience a sugar withdrawal.
If you have a hard time cutting sugar from your diet, you can always opt for natural sweeteners. These include stevia, erythritol, and xylitol. You can still enjoy the sweet taste without worrying about the cons of consuming refined and processed sugar.
Add Protein and Fat Into Your Meals
To compensate for the limited sugar intake, you add more protein and fat into your meals instead. A diet high in fat and protein helps reduce hunger and cravings. This is because the fructose that is usually present in foods, which is responsible for increased appetite, no longer occupies our bodies in large amounts.
Fats, especially healthy fats, are also high in energy. It can give us more power than we need compared to the energy that we get from sugars. We also won’t experience any withdrawal if we happen to consume a high-fat and low-sugar diet.
Avoid Shopping When Hungry
One effective strategy of cutting sugar from your diet is to prevent shopping when hungry. If you’re shopping with an empty stomach, you will be more likely to buy snacks, junk food, sugary drinks, instead of whole foods like fruits and vegetables. This is because you’re thinking with your stomach and not your mind.
Shopping when hungry also encourages you to go beyond your budget and risk overspending. If you pair these two habits together, it won’t go very well for your lifestyle.
Remove Any Sugar in Your Home
This might seem extreme, but it can be useful when it comes to limiting your sugar intake. Out of sight, out of mind, right? If you want to stop yourself from adding too much sugar into your diet, then it’s best to altogether remove any trace of sugar in your home.
This calls for a lot of willpower, but if you feel like you can take it, why not? To distract yourself from sugar withdrawals, you can try reading, meditating, or doing any hobby.
Exercise as Much as You Can
We’re not telling you to exercise until your body gives up from fatigue. Instead, we encourage our readers to implement an active lifestyle. Staying fit doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym every day. You can take afternoon walks with your dog, do a ten-minute yoga, or even go for a swim. Pick an exercise routine that fits you best so that it’s easier to stick to it.
Exercising helps in burning off the extra sugars in our bodies. It also exercises our hearts, lungs, and mental well-being. So it’s not only helping us lose weight, but also it helps us maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Cutting Out the Sugar
Although at first, it may seem complicated, easing into your low-sugar diet isn’t impossible. It takes a lot of discipline, willpower, and time to be able to perform the ideas that we listed above. Even if you experience a minor setback, that’s okay! You can always try and try again.
The important thing is that, with every step you take and every healthy bite you make, you’re one inch closer to the healthy lifestyle that you have always dreamed of!