Sugar is one of the worst things we can eat, and unfortunately, it is one of the hardest to avoid! The shocking thing about our health today is how much we really don’t know about the foods we are consuming. On average, Americans eat about 15 teaspoons of added sugar each day. And, while we may have an inkling that sugar is not good for us, do you really know how toxic it is? When it comes to our health, ignorance is absolutely not bliss. It’s important to educate yourself so you can make informed decisions that bring health to your body. Limiting your daily sugar intake can help your health, and be done 7 easy steps, beginning with knowledge.
The Non-Sugar Coated Facts
Sugar is the root cause of many illnesses, including obesity, type two diabetes, depression, and many more. According to some studies, sugar causes inflammation, especially in older women. Inflammation can lead to your joints hurting, sleeplessness at night, and more.
Cancer Loves Sugar
Did you know that cancer cells feed off of sugar? I mean, think about this – they put sugar in our bodies to find where we have cancer! Radioactive sugar is what is used in PET Scans to locate tumors because cancer cells absorb sugar more avidly than other tissues in the body. Tumors eat 40 times more sugar than healthy cells. This study suggests that sucrose (sugar) intake leads to tumor growth & metastasis for breast cancer when compared to non-sugar starch.
Sugar adds calories without any nutritional value. If you eat 20 teaspoons of sugar each day, it will put on approximately 34 pounds per year! Excessive sugar consumption also leads to weight gain because it can negatively affect a hormone called leptin. Leptin regulates our metabolism and our hunger. If leptin doesn’t signal us to ‘stop eating,’ the likelihood of us continuing to eat is high, which leads to weight gain.
Increased Risks of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
One of the causes of Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia is too much sugar. The inflammation caused by sugar occurs over and over in the brain, and this dramatically impacts the brain in the aging process. Some claim diets higher in fats and protein and lower in sugars and starches can actually reverse the signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
7 Steps to Limit Daily Sugar Intake
So, how do we combat consuming high levels of sugar when we don’t know where it’s coming from? We have 7 steps that will help you locate sugar in your foods and limit your daily sugar intake! If you can stick with these 7 steps and for 7 days, you’ll be well on your way. Make it to 21 days, and you’ll be on track to giving up sugar once and for all!
1. Know Where Sugar Hides
So many of the foods that we think are healthy are actually loaded with sugar — from salad dressings to coffee creamers, sauces, and cereal (Yes, even the ones labeled as “healthy”). Sugar is hiding in 80% of the foods sold in grocery stores, and Beverages are some of the worst sugar offenders. A 12-ounce can of soda contains 40 grams of total sugar or 10 teaspoons, and a Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino at Starbucks has 67 grams. Yep, you read that correctly; that’s 17 teaspoons of sugar!
As if we didn’t eat enough sugar, processed foods are loaded with added sugar. They hide under names like sucrose, fructose, glucose, maltose, cane juice, carob syrup, coconut sugar, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, agave nectar, aspartame, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, neotame, stevia extract, saccharin, sucralose, and sugar alcohols.
2. Get Rid of High Sugar Foods
Read your labels and check out the ingredients listed, grams of sugar, and serving size. All of these are important when making informed decisions. Two grams of sugar doesn’t sound bad until you look at the serving size. Often the serving size is so small you actually eat three servings and consume 6 grams of sugar. Go through your pantry and fridge and read your labels. It may be time to purge your kitchen of high-sugar foods.
If you actually see the sugars you’re consuming, especially in the hidden places, you’d be shocked! As you check the label, make sure you look at how much sugar is in a product; it can really add up. Why not decide to start today by limiting your sugar intake, then reduce it from there?
3. Practice Self-Honesty
If you have to smother your morning oatmeal in brown sugar, maybe you just don’t like oatmeal. It is time to confront the things you do or habits you have that enable you to consume excess sugar. This is practicing self-honesty. Why not try something different like some pre-made breakfast bars made with eggs and veggies?
4. Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Setting goals is great, but what type of goal you set makes a difference too. You want to set goals you’ll actually reach instead of lofty pie-in-the-sky goals. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals follow several guidelines that will set you up for success. It stands from specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Instead of setting a goal of losing three pounds, an example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal is limiting your sugar intake to less than 24g per day. This is a specific action you can measure, is relevant to your goal of reducing sugar, and is timely since you measure sugar intake daily. If you write down your goals and get accountability, this will be huge in your success. If you want accountability, why not join the free community and workout plan provided by Faithful Workouts?
5. It’s a Process, so be Kind to Yourself
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t eliminate sugar once and for all, cold-turkey today. Start with a goal of limiting your sugar and reducing it from there. If you celebrate a birthday with cake and ice cream or drinks with friends, it won’t kill you to have some sugar. But being aware is the first step. Then making healthy choices from there. Plus, if you practice kindness to yourself when you feel you’ve slipped up, you will be less likely to fall into old patterns. Recognize your humanity, know you will make mistakes but don’t allow them to define you.
6. Change Begins With Our Thoughts
Lasting change begins with our thoughts. When you understand the harmful effects of sugar, it should cause you to think differently about it. I’m not saying that food can’t be enjoyed, because it should be. But food is really meant to be fuel for our body. Ask yourself what you want more — good health or sugar-filled foods. If you crave sugar more than you want good health, it’s going to be super hard to break your sugar addiction. Write out the negative effects of sugar and put them someplace so you can read them often. Change your thoughts, and you will see a change in how you eat.
7. Practical Sugar Swaps
- If you crave sugar at night, try mixing peanut butter and cacao and put it on a date or apple slice. Or try cinnamon sprinkled on a baked apple.
- Switch out cereal for eggs or protein bites.
- Forget about soda and use fruit-infused sparkling water. You can use lemon, lime, ginger, cucumber, strawberries, mint, oranges… whatever you like!
- Instead of a blended drink, opt for almond milk in your coffee with 1 pump of flavor or ½ packet of brown sugar versus the blended drink.
- Go for club soda (not tonic) & lime with alcoholic drinks instead of mixed drinks, margaritas, and martinis.
- A dessert doesn’t have to be loaded with sugar. Break a dark chocolate bar into small squares (no bigger than 1″) and have one when you want something sweet.
Once you limit your daily sugar intake, you’ll feel better. You will have more energy, your body won’t hurt as much, and you’ll enjoy the sweetness of seasonal fruit. You won’t turn to overly sweet indulgences on a daily basis. Your loved ones will thank you as you age gracefully alongside them. And your body will thank you too!
About the Author:
Michelle Spadafora has been in the fitness industry for over 30 years. In 2009 she created Faithful Workouts, an online community that provides workouts for all fitness levels, recipes, and spiritual encouragement to people worldwide. Over the past 10 years, she has created a massive library of resources to help people grow stronger physically and spiritually. For more tips and resources on nutrition, workouts, and more, visit FaithfulWorkouts.com. Faithful Workouts is an online community started by Michelle Spadafora that provides workouts for all fitness levels, recipes, and spiritual encouragement to people all over the world.