The Wellness Warriors' Take on Sugar

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We had a great turnout at Southern Sqweeze for the Sugar Blues Workshop! Sugar is a widely discussed topic in the health industry. We have more sugar free and light options on store shelves than ever before, but somehow we keep getting heavier and sicker! Have you ever wondered WHY?

To put it all in context, here are some basic facts on sugar:

  • 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight or obese
  • In 1990 no state in the U.S. was over 15% obese
  • In 2010 36 states in the U.S. were over 25% obese
  • World consumption of sugar has doubled since 1985
  • Global diabetes rates have grown tenfold
  • The average American adult consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day
  • The average American child consumes 32 teaspoons of sugar per day
  • The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends:
    • 9 teaspoons for men
    • 6 teaspoons for women
    • 3-8 teaspoons for children

Why is everyone eating so much sugar all of a sudden1?

  • I'm glad you asked - in recent years, national policies in the United States have led us to consume more sugar than ever before. A decrease in corn prices plus an increase in sugar prices, plus a national directive to reduce fat consumption from 40% to 30% has led to food manufacturers filling low-fat, bland foods with high-fructose corn syrup. Fat consumption has gone down, but sugar, calories, and weight have all gone up.

How has all of this sugar led to so much obesity and disease?

  • Let's look at the science behind these staggering statistics - when you eat too much sugar, your body releases insulin too often. Eventually, it becomes resistant to insulin, which leads to your brain not hearing the leptin ("I'm full!") signal. You can then become resistant to leptin, which keeps your brain from suppressing dopamine. As this feel-good chemical increases in the brain, so do sugar cravings, and before long the brain has convinced the body that it needs more and more of that sugary sweetness. It's a vicious cycle, but there's hope yet. After all, we're Wellness Warriors - let's fight sugar addiction!

What can you do?

  • Remember that not all calories are equal: a hundred calories of nuts is not the same as a hundred calories of French fries, so be mindful of where you're getting your nutrients and energy.
  • Avoid foods with more than ten grams of sugar per serving
  • If there's sugar of any kind in the first four ingredients on the label, don't eat it!
  • Don't "drink" sugar
  • Reduce stress in whatever way is best for you
  • Get restful sleep
  • Trick your tastebuds in order to eat more wholesome foods by adding seasoning or by roasting vegetables
  • Healthy snacking between meals
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Slow down and be mindful - practice yoga, meditation, journaling, etc.
  • Move - exercise can maintain a healthy blood sugar level by increasing cellular sensitivity to insulin and by controlling weight (at least 35 minutes per day)

Let's face it, our love of sugar has become an addiction on a national sale, and there are plenty of men and women in suits who want to keep it that way. But with the right knowledge and a little discipline in our daily lives, we can fight the power of sugar and make it work the way that nature intended. Live the "sweet" life by eating more greens, reading the labels on your food, and finding ways to move that beautiful body!