Sweet on sugar? Get control.

October 31, 2018

Americans consume too much added sugar! This can lead to health problems like weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. To live healthier, longer lives, most people need to move more and eat better. This includes getting fewer calories from added sugars.

Added sugars are those that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not mean naturally occurring sugars like those in fruit or milk. There are many types of added sugars -- like corn syrup, fructose and others.

Try to keep your intake of added sugars to less than 10% of your total daily calories. For example, in a 2,000 daily calorie diet, no more than 200 calories should come from added sugars.

Too Much Sugar Affects Many Things

  • Your brain. Eating sugar gives your brain a huge surge of a feel-good chemical called dopamine. This explains why you might crave a candy bar instead of an apple.
  • Your mood. Studies have linked a high sugar intake to a greater risk of depression in adults. 
  • Your teeth. Candy can rot your teeth. Bacteria that cause cavities grow on sugar in your mouth after you eat something sweet. 
  • Your joints. Eating lots of sweets has been shown to worsen joint pain because of the inflammation they cause in the body.
  • Your heart. When you eat too much sugar, the extra insulin in your bloodstream can affect your arteries, part of your body’s circulatory system. This adds stress to your heart and damages it over time.
  • Your body weight. The more sugar you eat, the more you’ll weigh.

Reduce Sugar in Your Diet

  • A good place to start is by limiting how much regular soda you drink.
  • Instead of adding sugar to sweeten oatmeal or cereal, top your bowl with your favorite fruit.
  • Enjoy fruit for dessert instead of cookies or pastries.
  • Cut the amount of sugar you use in recipes for cakes and cookies. Or use unsweetened applesauce in place of sugar.
  • Watch out for condiments like ketchup and barbecue sauce. They can be high in sugar. Instead, opt for salsa, mustard or hot sauce.
  • Read food labels and research restaurant menus online. Avoid the high-sugar options.
  • Buy and eat fewer processed foods. Purchase more whole foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and try new recipes.

Tips for Managing Your Sugar Intake

  • Think about the benefits you’ll get when you change your habits.
  • Start small. Instead of not eating sweets, have one fewer snack each day.
  • Replace bad habits with good ones. Otherwise, you’re likely to fall back into your old routines.
  • Setbacks are normal. Don’t beat yourself up when you have one.

Learn more about how sugar affects your body.