According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the American adult consumes an average of 77 grams of sugar a day which adds up to 60 pounds of sugar annually, Comparatively, children consume 81 grams of sugar a day equaling 65 pounds of sugar annually. The AHA recommends that men should not consume more than 36 grams of sugar a day (less than 9 teaspoons) and women should not consume more than 25 grams a day (6 teaspoons). So where does it come from? Beverages contain 47% of all added sugars, snacks, and sweets contribute to 31% of the added sugar.
- 12 ounce can of soda contains- 32 grams of sugar
- Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Cherry Garcia 1 pint is equal to 84 grams
- Nutrigrain Cereal Bar has 15 grams of sugar
- Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino (16 oz Grande) with whipped cream has 51 grams of sugar
Many people look for alternatives like; honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and dextrose. However, the body still sees it as sugar. Isn’t natural sugar the same? No, because items such as an apple has fiber and will require the body to slowly break down the product making the sugar absorption slower versus that can of soda that you drink and is immediately absorbed. Unfortunately, many people do not see themselves as someone that has “treats” and often are known to say I don’t really eat sweets. But it is important to remember that eating and drinking are the same and to become aware of the nutrition labels available prior to consuming foods.
Let’s simplify what occurs in your body when you eat sugar.
- Brain- “lights up” the reward center, but over time it can cause learning issues and may make it harder for you to learn, it makes you want more and interferes with satiety even after eating what you are craving
- Skin ages faster by hindering the repair of collagen, causing reduced elasticity, premature gaining
- Excess sugar is stored as fat, once the body has used what it can for energy it then becomes converted into fat in the liver, increasing obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease
- Accelerates oxidation in cells causing damage to organs and tissue; liver and kidney disease, and cataracts.
- Eating sugar leads to the release of dopamine, which makes you want more and over time you will need more to get the same rush
- Refined carbs (pasta and bread) cause a rise in glucose and make you feel extra energy but that is a short-term fix making you sluggish afterward.
Some helpful ways to cut back on the sweets include; avoiding soda and sugar-sweetened beverages, eating fruits instead of candy, cookies, etc, and reading the ingredient labels because sugar can be hidden in several foods we don’t traditionally think of, like spaghetti sauce and sandwich bread, and remember added sugars can be called other things like corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose. Eating protein-rich snacks between meals like Greek yogurt with fresh berries will help stabilize blood sugar and make you feel better.