How much sugar are you consuming and why does it matter? You may be underestimating the amount and the damage that can be done. Besides unsightly weight gain, it definitely has some other nasty effects on your health. Read on to find some tips on ditching that sweet tooth!
First off, sugar really impacts your brain function. Researchers have found that it can impact your memory and one of the reasons it could contribute to weight gain is because it’s impacting the part of your brain that controls hunger levels. Another scary and shocking fact is that scientists have looked into this and found that it activates the brains reward centers, so if you keep reinforcing that it could lead to a tough habit to kick.
Obviously, we all know sugar is hard on teeth. But did you know that when you eat sugar your mouth becomes more acidic which creates a breeding ground for bacteria growth. Increased bacteria in your mouth could even lead to periodontal disease.
Recent research also shows that sugar plays a direct role in diabetes. As sugar levels increased in our food supply, so did levels of diabetes. The researchers found that the incidences of diabetes were not obesity related. Inflammation is also something that can cause havoc on our body systems. The effects of inflammation can include everything from muscle and joint pain to increased risk of getting heart disease.
The sugar high thing is just a myth. While a shot of sugar might give you a short term jolt, it’s not worth it because it’s gonna send you crashing down. When simple carbs like sugar enter your body they are processed very rapidly and this causes your blood sugar levels to spike, then crash along with you energy. You can get more steady energy from eating complex carbs like whole grains that are processed much slower.
While sugar does all this to your body, you might be thinking about using an artificial sweetener for a couple of reasons: zero calories and if sugar is so bad maybe artificial is better. Not so fast, a review done by the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine suggests that sweetness that comes from artificial sweeteners containing zero or very little calories offer only partial activation of the food reward pathways in the brain. So basically, you could get cravings for more of the sweet stuff because you’re not getting any satisfaction from the fake stuff. Also, fake sweeteners are super sweet compared to the real stuff and this could make you crave sugar even more or lead to a sugar dependence.
So how do you kick the habit?
Start reading labels- Sugar hides in mysterious places, so make sure you become familiar with what’s in your food. You can’t ditch sugar if you’re unknowingly consuming.
Gradually stop. Taking a cold turkey sudden approach can be a recipe for disaster, especially if you know you might be eating quite a bit of sugar. This will help reduce some of the nasty sugar withdrawal symptoms like irritability, headaches or tiredness.
Keep a food journal. This helps you stay accountable to your goal of ditching sugar. You’re probably less likely to eat it if you know you have to log it.
Lastly don’t beat yourself up if you are struggling. Just keep working towards your goal and don’t give up. It’s taken me years to get my sugar intake under control. Since sugar has such a powerful effect on our brains, making this lifestyle change can be very challenging but with patience, a positive attitude and a plan you can do it!
Over time you will get used to life without as much sugar and chances are you won’t even miss it!