Sugar has unfortunately become a staple in the American diet. Sugar has been linked to all kinds of health conditions and diseases including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. So just how much sugar are you actually eating? Here are a few reasons why counting your daily sugar grams is a good idea.
Signs You’re Eating Too Much
There are a few ways to tell that you are consuming too much sugar. The first sign is that you feel constantly out of energy no matter how much sleep you get. While sugar may give you an initial boost of energy, a crash will certainly follow.
Another simple sign is that you are constantly having sugar cravings. The more sugar you eat, the more the cravings will continue to plague you. If you just can’t finish the day without that scoop of ice cream or that piece of candy, you could quite possibly be addicted to sugar.
Sugar and addictive behavior are linked to the fact that when we eat sugar, dopamine is released in our brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is apart of the reward circuit in our brain, and it is highly associated with addictive behavior.
Sugar can also effect mood. Sugar can make people angry or short fused over situations that don't warrant anger. Sugar causes anxiety and irritability. Reactive hypoglycemia can be especially problematic for those with bipolar disorder. Reactive hypoglycemia, or the “sugar crash,” happens especially after eating high sugar foods. These foods cause your body to release an excessive amount of insulin to process all the sugar. This leads to a too rapid reduction of blood glucose, or blood sugar levels, causing your body to release adrenaline to compensate. This is the “fight or flight” chemical that causes the anxiety and irritability.
Lastly, is that you can experience depression from consuming too much sugar. While you certainly feel physically fatigued after a sugar crash, it’s not uncommon for people to feel emotionally fatigued as well. If you’re experiencing symptoms like sadness, social withdrawal, nervousness, or constant worry, it could be the sugar.
How Much Should You Be Eating?
The American Heart Association states that the amount of added sugars you consume should be limited to 9 teaspoons (37.5g) for men and only 6 teaspoons (25g) for women.
Once you’re aware of how much sugar you’re actually eating, and where it’s coming from, you’ll be able to cut back in no time.
Hidden Sugar to Watch Out For:
Now that you know you’re eating too much, here’s what you need to do. First, it’s a good idea to download an app like My Fitness Pal, not to count calories, but to count your sugar intake. There are even apps that are dedicated solely to sugar like The Sugar App.
You could also even just take a note in your phone every time you have some sugar.
Be sure to start checking labels especially for hidden sugars like in these foods:
As long as you are aware of hidden sugar, you’ll be able to cut back in no time. As you start to really read labels and see just how many hidden sugars are in foods, it will start to anger and frustrate you. You feel duped. As you strive for better health with reducing your sugar intake, you will quickly learn what to eat and what to stay away from. Just by doing that, you are getting healthier and, thus, increasing stamina and building up your immune system.