When we think of an addiction one of the first things that comes to mind is usually drugs and alcohol. We assume that an addiction impacts how we function in our lives significantly and that when it becomes a part of our daily lives we often lose our jobs, our relationships and sometimes even our life. What most of us don’t know is that one of the leading addictions that is creating a pandemic of health problems right now is Sugar. That’s right…sugar. In other words, the substance that makes our desserts taste so delicious and our break-ups not so bad. Recent studies have shown that sugar actually plays a much more detrimental role on our health than fat and that that amount of sugar North American’s are consuming on a regular basis (2-3 pounds per week) is leading to devastatingly high numbers of chronic disease.
Below is a list of ways that sugar affects your health along with a few alternatives to try when you are craving something sweet.
- Contributes to anxiety, depression and hyperactivity
- Decreases immune functioning by up to 40%
- Feeds cancer cells, giving them the energy they need to grow and multiply
- Triggers weight gain
- Creates a hormonal imbalance which can lead to changes in our mood, weight, skin, energy and more
- Impacts our insulin levels which can leave us feeling tired and hungry
- Increases the risk of heart disease
- Causes kidney damage
- Promotes premature aging
So What Can You Do About It?
- When you are baking, try using dates in replace of sugar. Or, if you don’t like that idea, try cutting back the amount of sugar it calls for gradually (ex/ if it calls for 1 cup of sugar, cut back to ¾ cup). In time you will get used to your favorite baked goods being less sweet
- Look for food products that have 7 grams of sugar or less per serving.
- Eliminate soft drinks and juice from your diet. Not only are these really high in sugar but they are also full of empty calories
- Keep lots of fresh fruit around and snack on that. The sugars in fruit are better for you because fruit contains lots of vitamins and fiber. Having a healthy sweet as a snack, such as fruit, can reduce sugar cravings later on.
- Be wary of low-fat or fat free foods, they often load them up with sugar or artificial sweeteners to make them taste better. Additionally, these products are usually lower in fat but still have the same number of calories.
- Aim to eat a healthy, low sugar breakfast every day. This will increase your energy and eliminate the risk of having a sugar low mid morning. Sugar lows often leave us craving more sugar and cause us to overeat.
Remember that it’s healthy to eat everything in moderation and that you don’t have to restrict all sugar from your diet. Aim to make one or two changes in your sugar intake and you are already one step closer to leading a long healthy life!