You probably haven't spent a ton of time wondering what happens to your body after you eat something sugary – it goes in there with all the rest of the food you consume and keeps you alive – end of story. Well, sugar is definitely needed to stay alive. Carbohydrates are a key source of energy and play an important role in the functioning of our internal organs, the nervous system, and our hormones, but our systems do not need sugar in the quantity that we are used to.
Before food processing, when sugar was mainly obtained from fruits and vegetables, people consumed about 30 grams per day of it. Today, an average American consumes 76 grams a day, which is about 19 teaspoons. That adds up to 96 pounds of sugar yearly (40 lbs. of which is high fructose corn syrup).
Canadians consume slightly lower amounts at 88 pounds. The World Health Organization would like to see the number get down to 25 grams a day for both men and women (6¼ teaspoons).
High amounts of sugar can wreak havoc on our immune systems, hormones, and digestion. Some of the negative effects are premature aging, weight gain, fatigue, bone loss, mental fatigue, depression and it can “disrupt the gut” or give “bad bacteria” the fuel they need to proliferate.
So, how much sugar do you consume in a day?
At first thought, you probably think, "not that much." Let's have a look, starting with breakfast. For example, you begin your day with a bagel with peanut butter and a small strawberry yogurt - for a total of 33 grams of sugar. At mid-morning you have a large cup of coffee from your favorite coffee shop (double/ double) - 34 grams of sugar. For lunch you decide to go easy on the calories, so you have a salad with Italian vinaigrette and a slice of whole wheat bread - that's another 14 grams of sugar. For an afternoon pick-me-up, you have an energy drink - 14 grams of sugar. And then for dinner, you have some pasta with grilled chicken and store-bought tomato sauce - that's 9 grams for the sauce and about 2 grams from the noodles.
GRAND TOTAL: 106 grams of sugar or 26 teaspoons!
Sugar is labeled as an addiction because it stimulates the brain in a way that is similar to cocaine and alcohol, causing the release of the feel-good chemicals dopamine and serotonin.
When sugar is consumed in large quantities it has several effects:
o It causes people to eat more of it, despite the negative consequences like weight gain, fatigue, and moodiness
o Insulin resistance can develop. This means your body is producing insulin but it’s not using it properly. The problem here is that insulin is a fat storing hormone, which makes weight loss an up hill battle for many
o Some people have trouble functioning without it and have a “stash” available when their energy plummets
o Upon quitting sugar withdrawal, symptoms may appear
This last point is why quitting sugar can be the biggest challenge, as it makes it difficult to stay on track when the cravings hit. Fortunately I’m going to give you some emergency fixes so you will come out the other side feeling great!
Self-nurture - Often, the people who are most susceptible to sugar cravings are working stressful jobs, living stressful lives, completely out of balance. These things can lead people down a path of emotional eating, binge eating, or sabotaging behavior. While kicking sugar, take time out to do things the things you love. Create space and tune in to the world around you.
Learn how to find where it hides - Sugar is hidden in almost every packaged, canned or frozen food. Get good at reading labels to detect where hidden sugars lie.
Eat healthy fat - Keeping blood sugar levels stable are essential in reducing cravings. Nut butters or roasted nuts or seeds are great snacks to have on hand especially when you’re in the beginning stages of eliminating sugar.
Keep busy - The last thing you want when quitting sugar, is to have your thoughts dominated by it. Spend the first few days of your sugar detox with a plan to occupy your time and your mind. Meditation, walks, working out, or a tea date with your friend are all ways to keep sugar out of your mind.
Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, heal your hormones and feel the best you’ve ever felt? If you want to have an in-depth conversation about the ways I can help you support you with your hormone, or health challenges so you can feel more in control of what’s happening in your body, book a free 30 minute health history with me by clicking this link!