With Halloween around the corner, this is a good time to remind ourselves how much sugar we should be consuming. That’s because with the increase of pre-packaged foods, our sugar habit has gotten out of control. And if we want to live and eat healthy, we need to keep a pulse on our sugar intake.
According to a 2009 study in Circulation, a medical journal, annual consumption of sugar from 1970-2009 has increased 19%. Have you ever taken a look at how much sugar is added to our foods like simple breakfast cereals? Did you know that sugar is even added to our foods like pasta sauce, and peanut butter? Let’s start with a quick refresher.
Why is sugar so bad for us?
There are 3 main different types of sugar.
- Fructose – sugar that occurs naturally in fruit
- Lactose – sugar that occurs naturally in dairy products
- Sucrose – sugar that is added to our food
Added sugar in our foods can come in many forms though, which can include (but is not limited to) cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, molasses, honey, maple syrup, brown rice sugar and dextrose.
Too much added sugar can have negative health effects for us. Simple sugar consumption causes a spike in our blood sugar and insulin levels and then sends them crashing back down. The result? We’re hungry again a very short time later, causing us to eat more food (which increases our daily calorie intake).
There are also many studies out there now that show that sugar also has an effect on our brain, making us dependent upon the product. Bart Hoebel, Ph.D warns us in a study published in Obesity Research that “People with a genetic predisposition for addiction can become overly dependent on sugar, particularly if they periodically stop eating and then binge”.
A study conducted with mice shows that in just 10 days they had become addicted to sugar. The animals started feeling anxious and wanted to consume sweet foods again. Have you ever done a sugar detox before? It can bring on anxiety, tremors, headaches and mood swings.
A good self reflective question as we head into the holiday season: Am I addicted to sugar?
How much sugar should we be eating?
In 2009 the American Heart Association reported we are consuming about 111 grams of sugar a day. That means we are eating 450 calories a day of SUGAR!
The American Heart Association recommends:
Women should only eat 100 calories of sugar a day, which equates to 6 teaspoons, or 24 grams.
Men should not consume more than 150 calories of sugar, which equates to 9 teaspoons, or 36 grams.
If you’re looking for easy ways to cut sugars out of your diet, here is a couple quick tips:
- Avoid empty calories, like soda pop, energy drinks, candy and ice cream.
- Read the labels; if one of the names for sugar is in the first 5 ingredients, move on and don’t eat it.
- And always make sure you have fiber with your sugar…like with fruit or whole grains. The fiber will help counter your crash where you crave more food because the fiber will help keep you feeling fuller.
OK, now go enjoy those Reese’s Cups…just remember to put them down come November 1st!