The Not-So-Sweet Truth about Sugar

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The Truth about SugarI’m not going to “sugarcoat” this for you so here it is: sugar makes you fat. As a nation, we’re eating about 150 pounds of sugar per year, per person in the form of soda, bread, pasta, cereal, cake, cookies and more.  We’re bigger and unhealthier than ever before. The calories from sugar do little to nourish and fuel us while steadily chipping away at our health as well as our waistlines. As a mom, you need to know the facts so you and your kids can stay healthy.

Why is Sugar so Bad For Me (and My Kids)?

Not only does sugar cause weight gain but it’s also the root cause of many illnesses and conditions we face today; these are just a few:

  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • liver and pancreatic disease
  • premature aging
  • skin problems
  • arthritis
  • weakened immune system
  • tooth decay
  • digestive disorders
  • mood swings
  • infertility
  • osteoporosis

Sugar also causes inflammation. Think about what happens when you have a cut on your finger: your immune response signals the body that it’s in a state of crisis and as a result, the body responds to heal the wound. But, when your body is in a state of constant internal inflammation because it’s constantly dealing with sugar, your body reacts as if it’s always in crisis. Your body responds by flooding you with stress hormones in an effort to “save” you. This eventually exhausts your adrenal glands (which is where the stress hormone cortisol is released from). When this happens, it drives fat storage, particularly around your middle while also suppressing your thyroid, impacting your immune system, affecting your sleep, mood, libido and more.

If Sugar is So Bad, Why Do I Crave It?

Sugar Tastes Good

This one is pretty obvious…it tastes good. We’re hard wired to enjoy sweet tastes. It’s easy to crave a piece of chocolate cake, but how often is it that you crave steamed broccoli? The food industry is well aware of our love for sweets and has taken full advantage of this knowledge to create millions of high sugar, calorie dense yet nutrient poor “sub foods” we consume on a daily basis.

Sugar Makes Us Feel Good

When you eat something sweet, the reward centers of our brain are triggered which releases the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers so a hit of sugar simply makes us feel good.

Serotonin is another neurotransmitter released when we eat something sweet. A boost of serotonin enhances our mood so it’s easy to see why we’d look for foods which will trigger serotonin, especially when we’re tired or feeling any negative emotions.

Sugar is Addictive

Sugar is highly addictive. The same receptors that are engaged with recreational drugs are engaged when we consume sugar. Just as a drug addict “needs” a hit of a certain drug and will feel a withdrawal without it, when we’re used to consuming high concentrations of refined sugar, we can feel the same way.

Can your break your sugar addiction? Absolutely, but give yourself some leeway to not be at your “sweetest” for a day or two.

Sugar is Easy to Digest

Sugar is also easy to consume and digest. Foods high in sugar barely need to be chewed so they go down easily and the calories add up quickly. Manufacturers know this and use this knowledge to their advantage as well so you can consume way more than you intended before you even realize what hit you.

Am I Destined to be Overweight and Unhealthy?

Of course not! The first step is determining where you’re sugar sources are coming from and finding healthy substitutions to replace these items with. Are your sugar calories coming in in the form of liquids (soda, juice, some type of calorie-bomb coffee concoction)? Are your sugar calories coming in the form of high fructose corn syrup, desserts or carbohydrate-loaded meals?

Determine which meal or snack has been keeping you from living with the health and body you deserve and commit to making some different choices…starting today.

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