You’re full of sugar and you’re probably just as sweet! Candy and sugar are romanticized, paired with happy kids, candy stores and fairs. It’s a sexy night with melted chocolate or candy bead friendship bracelets.
I bet you didn’t realize that the first commercially sold candy bar was “Fry’s Chocolate Cream” and the first molds were made in 1847. Actually, out of the ten oldest candy bars, only a few are still around, like Nestlé chocolate from 1875, Hershey Bars from 1900, The Toblerone bars from 1908 and the classic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from 1928.
So when I say you’re not alone in your sugar intake, I mean it. The world has been loving candy and sugar since they found it. The first chemically refined sugar appeared in India about 2,500 years ago. From there, it spread around the world.
The question is, when’s the last time you had sugar? It’s a tricky question when so many foods contain copious amounts, folded into great flavors or sometimes we just eat candy!
What we don’t often talk about is, what it does to your body. We all know that too much of anything is bad. Eating too much sugar is linked to weight gain and various diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
But how much is too much? Does sugar have any positive benefits? Should you cut it out completely?
First, the facts. We have to make a distinction between added sugars and natural sugars that occur in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables have water, fiber and micronutrients that make them healthy and these are not the same as added sugar.
What is added sugar? It’s your main ingredient in candy, soft drinks, baked goods and many processed foods.
This doesn’t mean you have to swear off sugar forever, well maybe, because sugar affects us all differently, it might be more harmful to you than someone else. According to the AHA (American Heart Association) women should have less sugar per day than men. They suggest that woman shouldn’t consume more than 100 calories (6 teaspoons) of sugar a day. Men getting capped at no more than 150 calories (9 teaspoons) of sugar a day. However, on average, American’s are eating nearly 16 teaspoons of sugar a day.
Sugar Addict? It’s easy for the body to crave sugar and to develop a sugar addiction, this is because sugar and sugary foods stimulate the same areas of the brain as drugs by stimulating the reward center of the brain.
If you feel like you’re addicted to sugar and it is causing a combination of overeating, weight gain and the of loss of self-control, then it’s often suggested to cut sugar out of your diet completely. Though, I want to mention something about that. You have to want to quit, and change your lifestyle. People act like stopping something cold-turkey (such a strange expression) is easy and for some it is. You can do it, you can stop eating sugar completely and after a few months, you won’t even want it in the same way but those changes are hard so make sure it’s something you’re ready to commit to.
Processed Foods: Hidden within colorful boxes, sugar hides it's true form, processed foods. It won’t be easy to avoid processed foods when so many of us depend on them. You have two solutions: 1. Don’t eat any processed foods, start cooking everything yourself, or 2. Find out what to look for.
Sugar has many names and if you’re reading the ingredients list of a processed food (that you’re not ready to give up) then memorize this list: Sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), dehydrated cane juice, fructose, glucose, dextrose, cane sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup. If any of these words for sugar are in the first three ingredients or if it has more than one type of sugar, then put that colorful box down and walk away.
Don’t let packages advertised as “healthy foods” trick you either, it’s still an added sugar if it’s honey, organic cane sugar, or coconut sugar.
I still want sugar! You’re unique and you need to figure out what’s right for you. Sugar in moderation can be fine but for some people it causes cravings, binge eating, rapid weight gain and disease. It’s also been tied to depression, increased yeast infections, and arthritis.
If you really need something sweet and you don’t want natural sugars try using Stevia or Monk Fruit to sweeten baked goods or your morning coffee.