Weekly Wellness: Are you eating too much sugar?
We are entering the season of sugar. It’s true. Pies, cookies, candy, cakes, cocktails… all of it means SUGAR. I think the answer to the question “am I eating too much sugar?” can be an obvious “yes” answer these days. But, in case you’re wondering, take a look at this list and determine if they apply to you.
1. You constantly crave sugary things.
The more sugar you eat, the more you’ll crave it. This isn’t just because your taste buds have adapted and left you needing more and more to get that same taste, but also because of how sugar gives you a high followed by a crash, just like an actual drug.
2. You feel sluggish throughout the day.
What goes up must come down. After sugar causes an initial spike of insulin and that “high” feeling, it causes an inevitable crash. Eating a lot of sugar also means it’s likely you’re not eating enough protein and fiber, both important nutrients for sustained energy.
3. Your skin won’t stop breaking out.
Sugar can cause a hormonal surge that can lead to acne breakouts. A sugar binge can show up on your face in just a few days.
4. You're way moodier than usual.
The blood sugar crash that happens when you're coming off a sugar high can cause mood swings and leave you feeling crabby. Not to mention, if your energy is also tanking, that just contributes to a bad attitude.
5. You've been putting on some weight.
Excess sugar is excess calories, and since it has no protein or fiber, it doesn't fill you up (so you just keep eating it). It also triggers the release of insulin, a hormone that plays a big role in weight gain. When we eat sugar, the pancreas releases insulin, which carries sugar to our organs so it can be used for energy. When you load up on sugar, your body’s told to produce more insulin—over time, that can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means our bodies can't respond to normal amounts of insulin properly and therefore can't use sugar the right way. The initial weight gain from simply eating too many calories from sugar is being compounded by the disruption to your normal insulin response (there’s a link between insulin resistance and obesity).
6. You've been getting more cavities.
When bacteria find (and feed on) food particles in between the teeth, acid is produced, which causes tooth decay. Our saliva maintains a healthy balance of bacteria on its own, but eating sugar can impact the pH and throw off the natural ecosystem. This gives the bacteria a chance to thrive and multiply, leading to cavities.
7. Your brain tends to get foggy, especially after a meal.
This fog is a common symptom of low blood sugar. When you eat a lot of sugar, your blood sugar levels rapidly rise and fall instead of gradually. So, in essence, poor blood sugar control is a major risk for cognitive issues and impairment.
8. Nothing tastes as sweet as it used to.
When you eat too much sugar, your taste buds can build up a tolerance. So you need MORE sweet to satisfy your desire for sweet. However, it you cut back and suffer through it in the beginning, you'll eventually lower your tolerance again and be content with minimal sugar. You might even start to feel like things are too sweet for you and—gasp!—be happier consuming sugar in moderation.
Now that you’ve identified that you might have a sugar issue, here are some simple steps to overcoming your sugar addiction:
- Eliminate sugary beverages
- Quit sugary junk foods
- Reduce simple carbs (i.e. crackers, white breads, white pastas)
- Check labels for hidden sugars
- Be realistic