Sweet on sweets? For more reasons than cavity prevention, it’s time to tame your sweet tooth once and for all.In the past 20 years, Americans have more than quadrupled their individual sugar intake. A health survey showed that between 2001 and 2004 the average intake of added sugars for Americans was 22.2 teaspoons a day. That packs 355 calories! But weight gain is not the only health risk sugar poses.
Researchers and health associations such as the American Dietetic Association and the American Diabetic Association say sugar is one of the three major causes of degenerative disease.
Foods that are high in simple sugars raise blood sugar levels quickly. As a result, the pancreas pumps out insulin to bring levels down. This roller coaster fluctuation stresses the body and can depress the immune system. It also causes dramatic mood and energy swings. Meanwhile, an increase in insulin in the blood stream promotes fat storage and paves the way to elevated triglycerides (blood fats). Both of these factors can lead to heart disease.
Control Your Cravings
The American Heart Association (AHA) now recommends men consume no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar and women consume no more than 6 teaspoons per day. To put this in perspective, one can of regular soda has about 8 teaspoons of sugar. So give soda the boot as your first step in getting your sugar consumption under control.
The AHA stated that “there is strong scientific data linking excess sugar above these limits and an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.”
Several animal studies also link sugar consumption to high blood pressure, another heart and stroke risk. Other research suggests high sugar intake can lead to cancer, insulin resistance and arthritis.
12 Ways to Kick the Sugar Habit
Studies have found sugar is habit-forming and possibly addictive — both physically and emotionally. While it may not be easy, cutting back on sugar is a smart way to protect your health. Here are some ways to kick the sugar habit:
1. Find out how much sugar you’re actually consuming each day so you know where you need to cut back. Keep track of all the sugars you consume daily, including white bread, pasta or rice, honey, brown rice syrup, fruit juice concentrate and high fructose corn syrup.
2. Choose complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat breads and pasta along with fruits and vegetable rather than refined sugars. Naturally occurring sugars in fruits, milk and plain yogurt don’t seem to have the same unhealthy effect as refined sugars.
3. Bump up fiber intake. Adding fiber to your diet slows the absorption of sugars to prevent unhealthy blood sugar spikes.
4. Eat small meals or snacks throughout the day so your blood sugar stays more even. If blood sugar levels plunge, you’re more likely to crave sugar.
5. Start the day with protein and whole grains to keep you satisfied and prevent sugar cravings.
6. Sweeten foods with spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg to calm your urges for sugar.
7. Give your body adequate vitamins and minerals since nutrient deficiencies can lead to sugar cravings. Reliv Classic® and Reliv Now® provide a full range of essential nutrients in just two shakes a day.
8. Get your energy boost from exercise and enough sleep rather than sugar.
9. Sugar cravings usually last about 10 to 20 minutes. Distract yourself during that time with a walk or some other activity to keep your mind and body busy.
10. Drink more water. We sometimes mistake hunger or cravings for thirst.
11. If your sweet tooth is calling loudly, munch on fruit such as a banana or orange to squelch the craving while stoking up on important nutrients.
12. Substitute the sugar in your coffee or tea with Relivables® All-Natural Sweetener, with zero calories plus fiber.