The sugar season is upon us once again, Thanksgiving desserts, Christmas chocolates and candies, New Years champagne and alcohol based cocktails for toasting! Can we truly blame the holidays for overdosing us on sugar? No! Everyday foods are loaded with hidden sugar content – such as canned soups, salad dressings, packaged fruit cups and even lunchmeat.
As a result, it is estimated that the average Canadian consumes as much as 13% of their total calorie intake from added sugars. Now this data doesn’t take into consideration 100% fruit juices, honey etc. If these items were included, the average consumption percentile would be much higher then 13%. (Canadian Heart Association). Sugar activates the reward centers of the brain, which is why we are so enticed by those wonderful sparkly crystals. It simply makes the brain feel good. Dopamine and endorphins all are having a big party when sugar enters the blood stream shuttling the amino acid tryptophan into the brain. The more sugar we eat the more our body craves it. There was a study completed a few years ago by Dr. Serge Ahmed, a scientist with the University of Bordeaux in France. The study revealed that sugar was so powerful that rats preferred sugar water to cocaine. COCAINE…wow, now we know that sugar certainly packs a punch.
The Truth Behind Consuming Excess Sugar
The brain is not the only part of the body that sugar has an affect on. Eating too much sugar can lead to tooth decay, weight gain, depression, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. The list can go on for miles. So how can a person reduce the amount of sugar in their diet? Here are some key tips;
- Learn to read nutrition labels
- Learn the alternate names that companies use to disguise sugar; many processed foods have about 3 or 4 different sweeteners in them:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Dried Cane Syrup
- Choose naturally sweet foods: Fruits, Sweet Potatoes
- Choose unsweetened baked goods
- Reduce the amount of sugar needed for a recipe
When a person starts to reduce sugar in the diet, the body will naturally stop wanting large amounts to satisfy the sugar addiction.
During the holiday season don’t get caught in the sugar trap. Get in the habit of declining sugary treats or eat at home before going to the Christmas party – your heart and waistline will thank you.