Nutritional counselor & Regular GirlieGirl Army Blogger, Katherine Pennington (of Be in Balance,) wants you to drop the Twinkies, stat!
Americans on average consume 576 cans of sugar-based soda per year, causing multiple health conditions including diabetes and obesity. Increase of sugar consumption has risen to a staggering 142 pounds of sugar per person per year. Many of us are addicted to sugar and we don’t even know it! Sugar addiction can create a spiral effect for your whole day that will cause you to have mood swings, crave carbohydrates and sugar-laden foods, reach for caffeine to give you a boost and overall make bad food choices.
Sugar is lurking where you would least expect to find it. Read the labels of foods in your kitchen cabinet or on the grocery aisles- it is in cereals, crackers, bread, and, of course, candy and junk food! Sugar is highly addictive, and manufactures know it so they add it to their products so you will buy more.
We are hard-wired at birth to crave sugar for our survival! According to a study led by Dr. Lucy Cook from the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, our children’s eating habits are 78% genetics, and only 22% environmental. Thousands of years ago we would forage for sweet fruits such as mangos and bananas and sweet root vegetables NOT load up on double whip lattes and sugar loaded produced snacks, though!
The kinds of sugars that we are now putting in our bodies are causing record levels of obesity and diabetes! The rate of childhood obesity has doubled in the past 20 years with a staggering 15% of children and adolescents considered obese. The percentage of just plain overweight children has grown to 1 out of every 3 children. According to the American Diabetes Association, there are 246 million people with diabetes in the world consisting of approximately 23.6% of children and adults. Obesity and diabetes, in my opinion, are reaching epic proportions!
Sugar in its purest form is juice from a sugar cane plant. However, during the refining process where raw sugar is turned into white table sugar all the enzymes, vitamins and minerals are destroyed. Consumption of refined sugar has been linked to hypoglycemia, a weakened immune system, yeast infections, hyperactivity, ADHD, mental and emotional disorders and chemical imbalances in the brain.
In addition, refined sugars make you fat. Excess sugar is stored in the liver as glycogen and eventually excess amounts are returned to the bloodstream as fatty acids, which ultimately end up as fat! Not only is sugar calorie-laden but also most of the food having added sugar is highly-processed junk food! High fructose corn syrup is another one to avoid. Like refined sugar it has a negative impact on our blood sugar levels.
So, how do we reduce our sugar craving and eat sweet foods?
Read labels. If it includes white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, fructose, or sucrose, then don’t buy it! Many low-fat foods include sugar (and lots of salt) to make them appealing to you.
Replace sugar with natural sweeteners such as agave nectar, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, molasses or even raw sugar. Stevia is also a good choice for those who do not mind an artificial like taste. All of these natural sweeteners contain one or more enzymes, calcium, iron, potassium, protein, B-Vitamins, magnesium, chromium, fiber and folic acid.
Find food alternatives that you like for your favorite snacks and desserts. Late July and Paul Newman both make delicious “Oreo’s,” Kashi’s has beyond addictive “chocolate chip cookies,” Soy Delicious and Coconut Bliss have delicious “ice creams,” and there are many family-friendly cereals from Envirokids, Barbaras, Kashi and other brands.
Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables that are high in natural sugars such as carrots, beets and sweet potatoes. It may sound too good to be true but if you eat more of these foods, you will crave the others less.
Avoid low-fat foods- don’t buy into it. Fat does not make you fat! Fat, in fact, helps us metabolize sugar. When we eat fat along with carbohydrates and sugar, food enters our blood stream at a slower rate. Additionally, many of the low-fat foods are also high in sugar. A double whammy!
Use spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander and cloves which naturally sweeten food and reduce cravings.
Drink water- sweet cravings can sometimes be a sign of dehydration. Drinking water also helps fill us up and reduces hunger.
Exercise- when we exercise our body lets go of endomorphins that make us feel good. Exercise will also help naturally regulate blood sugars.
Get more rest & sleep- tired, stressed-out bodies crave sugar (and caffeine!) to keep them going! Sugar cravings are often a result of being sleep-deprived. Read more about the importance of sleep here. If you are to focus on one thing for your overall health, this month focus on decreasing your sugar consumption and see how much better you feel!
Katherine Pennington of Be in Balance offers holistic health and lifestyle counseling for women and men who want to lose weight, gain energy, sleep better, reduce stress, get in shape and achieve a greater sense of well-being, balance and happiness in their lives and those of their families. Katherine is also a raw food chef and teacher and oversees juice fasts for clients. As a mother of two children, Katherine also helps with family meal planning on nutrition. To find out more , please visit www.be-n-balance.com.
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