Updated: May 28
It can be easy to get sucked into consuming processed sugars without even realizing it, especially if you buy foods and drinks outside of the house. But what are these added sugars, anyway? And how do they affect your health? Here are five tips to help you kick processed sugars to the curb, so you can live a happier and healthier life in the process.
1) Sugar is addictive
Studies show that some people can experience withdrawal symptoms (such as headaches) when they go off their regular diet of sweet things. The good news: If you are craving sweets, there are steps you can take to get through a difficult and tempting moment of weakness and emerge with a new way of eating that includes less processed food and more whole foods.
Try this instead!
Pay attention to why and when you are eating those sugary sweets.
Are you eating a cookie because your STRESSed - Manage that stress!
Are you eating it because you're HUNGRY? - You're probably not taking in enough nutritious calories throughout your day. Evaluate how often throughout your day are you taking in a protein source? Consider how much water you are taking in, is it enough? You're body is
Are you eating it because you are BORED? - Find another activity that you can enjoy instead!
Are you eating it because you have strong negative FEELINGS, like depression or anger or disgust? Seek help. There are many support groups and personnel, including confidential apps that you can privately reach out to!
2) Sugar contains no nutrients
Many people don’t realize just how empty sugar calories are. A tablespoon of sugar contains 16 calories, all from carbohydrate. When you eat more carbs than your body can use for energy or store as glycogen in muscles and liver, it gets stored as fat and you gain weight to later likely experience health problems.
Try this instead!
Pick up HEALTHIER ALTERNATIVES: dark chocolate with almond butter is soooo good!
There are tons of recipes out there for muffins, cookies and cupcakes that use way less to no sugar or healthy sugar substitutes in the baking that still give you that sweet satisfaction.
Take a WHOLE FRUIT instead, or several of them in a bowl! Grapes, bananas, apples and pears serve up great sweet tasting treats without delivering empty sugar calories that the body will still require after you're done.
Again, high cravings for sugar generally means your body needs energy re-fuel, so ask yourself - are you taking in enough nutritious foods in your daily diet to fuel your metabolic needs? You should be focused on proteins, complex whole grain carbohydrates and healthy Unsaturated Fats like that found in salmon, mackerel, tuna and herring. Also avocado, chia seeds, and a variety of nuts.
3) Sugar can cause insulin resistance
Insulin is a hormone that helps your body absorb glucose from carbohydrates. It is a key that unlocks the door to the body cells allowing entry of glucose for energy. Insulin resistance occurs when your cells become less sensitive to insulin, so that your pancreas needs to produce more and more of it to get your blood sugar down. Eventually, excessive insulin production can lead to high blood pressure, which in turn raises heart disease risk.
Try this instead!
Baby steps! DO NOT DEPRIVE yourself, but do make a conscious effort to reduce and eventually eliminate as much sugar laden treats as possible!
4) Sugar lowers serotonin levels
You may not know it, but serotonin regulates sleep, appetite and mood and it is one of our feel-good hormones. It helps us control cravings. But if you’re eating a lot of sugar (such as in added syrups, white bread and pastries), your serotonin levels can drop significantly, which makes you more likely to crave more sugary foods.
5) Sugar interferes with sleep cycles
Sugary foods are often high in tryptophan, an amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin keeps us awake, so if we eat lots of sugar and get plenty of tryptophan before bedtime, our bodies may interpret it as a sign that there’s no reason to sleep—and so they secrete cortisol and adrenaline, two hormones that keep us up.
Excessive sugar consumption can have a variety of adverse effects on your health. Individuals who consume large amounts of sugar may suffer from various ailments, including cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Studies have suggested that regular consumption of excessive sugar may significantly increase an individual’s risk of contracting cancer. Sugar also decreases bone density and exacerbates other chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and high blood pressure.
So many reasons to make the effort to reduce sugar from your diet.
YOU ARE WORTH HAVING GOOD HEALTH, FEELING GREAT and BEING HAPPY!