I’m sure many of you have already been inundated with facts and statistics about sugar consumption. We all have heard how toxic sugar can be to our systems…although most of us merely focus on the sugar-as-calorie instead of sugar-as-degrading-to-our-every-fiber-of-being.
Sugar, I’ll concede, has a time and place. If consumed in moderation and on a non-regular basis, added sugar can be okay. We’re all human, right? (Read: I WILL eat my gluten-free birthday cupcake!)
So what exactly can sugar do to you beyond just add calories to your daily dietary intake? Here are just a few not-so-sweet side-effects (some more immediate than others) of sugar intake:
Anxiety or Panic Attacks
Candida Overgrowth which can lead to digestive conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Type 2 Diabetes
Insatiable Daily Cravings
Getting “Hangry” (Hungry and Angry at the same time)
The recommended daily intake of added sugar is currently 24g (or 6 tsp) for women, and 36g (or 9 tsp) for men.[i] Although some would argue that the limit should be set much lower. Did you know that the average American consumes 32 teaspoons of sugar a day? This can lead to the consumption of over 150 POUNDS of sugar per YEAR.
So let’s take a good look at what we consume on a DAILY basis that already has added sugars in it – not to mention whatever naturally occurring sugars are present in our food (think fructose and lactose, to name a couple).
A good rule of thumb to remember – if you are a visual person like myself – is that 4.2 grams of sugar (listed on the nutritional facts label of any processed food or drink item) equals 1 tsp of sugar – or one cute little sugar cube.
Some basic sugar stats for commonly consumed processed foods:
1 12oz can of soda – where most Americans pull in their daily added sugar intake – contains, on average, 39g → 9 tsp of sugar
1 20oz bottle of soda contains, on average, 65g → 15.5 tsp of sugar
1 Capri Sun pack contains, on average, 18g → 4.3 tsp of sugar
1 16oz bottle of Cocolate Quik contains 58g → 13.8 tsp of sugar
1 bottle of Mike’s Hard Lemonade contains 30g → 7.1 tsp of sugar (PLUS alcohol = 1 killer hangover)
1 16oz Mocha Frappuccino® Blended Beverage (whole milk, whipped cream) contains 60g → 14.3 tsp of sugar
1 Clif Bar contains, on average, 21g → 5.7 tsp of sugar
The average cup of yogurt with added fruit contains around 21g → 5.7 tsp of sugar
1 20oz bottle of Gatorade or Powerade contains, on average, 38g → 9 tsp of sugar
1/3 cup dried cranberries contains, on average, 24g → 6 tsp of sugar
1 medium (113g) blueberry muffin contains, on average, 37g → 8.8 tsp of sugar
So you can see how sugar consumption can add up! Added sugar (including High Fructose Corn Syrup or the “healthier” alternatives: honey, molasses, and brown rice syrup) is even present in your bread, cereal, and condiments. A teaspoon here…a teaspoon there…before you know it, you’re consuming well over what you should be. Sure, honey and agave tout some limited health benefits (as opposed to the zero health benefits of HFC, Sorbitol, and processed/raw sugar), but realistically, a processed sugar is a processed sugar in that it is broken down in relatively the same way in the body. Without the fiber that is naturally contained in, say, an apple, sugar – regardless of its form – will be broken down quickly in the body and immediately stored as fat if you are not working it off, physically, every day.
Sugar also has a dirty little secret. It’s extremely addictive. It can be classified as an addictive substance for the following 5 reasons[ii]:
- Despite efforts to quit it, the consumer eats it compulsively.
- Neurotransmitters in the brain (like dopamine and serotonin) are impacted in the same manner as alcohol and hard drugs, like cocaine.
- With continued use, tolerance occurs → consumption must increase to achieve the same experience.
- Over time, sugar is required for normal functioning.
- Withdrawal occurs when consumption ceases.
So what if you DO have one (or more) of the symptoms or conditions listed earlier in this post? How can you know if sugar is the culprit? Track your diet. Keep a daily food journal for a week and see if you can keep tabs on your sugar intake. You don’t have to count every gram…just be aware. And remember that all is not lost! There are ways to curb those cravings without resorting to any specific diet plan, a pill, or a weight-loss gimmick. Imagine a life free of having to fight daily with that inner-voice that always seems to be hungry for more sugar.
Are you interested in learning how to curb your cravings and cut out unnecessary added sugars from your diet, but aren’t sure if you can go it alone? I can help you begin to dominate that tricksy little voice in 6 months or less! Jump over to my Health Coaching Practice page and sign up for a free initial health consultation with me to begin your sugar-free journey, together!