Sugar inarguably tastes delicious. In large amounts, however, sugar is unfortunately not beneficial for your health. Added sugars—sugars and syrups put in foods during processing or preparation—offer no nutritional value. They only give you calories that detrimentally impact your health and hike your weight.
The American Heart Association (AHA) says that the major sources of added sugars are:
- Soft drinks
- Cakes and pies
- Dairy desserts like ice cream
- Fruit drinks like fruit punch
The AHA suggests that most American women get no more than 100 calories per day of added sugars, which is about 6 teaspoons of sugar. Men should get no more than 150 calories per day of added sugar, or about 9 teaspoons.
Think you're eating too much sugar? Here are some signs that it's time to step away from the sweet stuff.
1. You're tired throughout the day.
You may get a high when you eat sugar. But what goes up must come down. So that rise in your blood sugar will eventually crash, leaving you with an energy slump. You'll feel wiped out and sluggish, looking for sweets to help you regain that sugar high. To curb sugar cravings, try to get more fiber and protein in your diet, nutrients which promote "real" energy. That's because fiber and protein keep you fuller longer since they digest more slowly. And they don't cause your blood sugar to rise and fall like foods high in sugar. Opt for proteins like eggs and lean chicken, and fiber-filled fare like fruits, veggies and whole grains.
2. You're constantly breaking out.
Too much sugar can do a number on your skin. If you're among those sensitive to the rise in insulin you get from eating sugar, your raging hormones can trigger acne breakouts. So if you're suffering from skin that's less than stellar, see if sugar is the culprit. For information on foods that are good for your skin, check out 10 Foods for Healthy, Beautiful Skin.
3. You crave the sweet stuff.
It's a vicious cycle. The more sugar you eat, the more your brain wants sugar—what it sees as a reward. It's almost like you're taking a drug. Your body craves the taste and feeling of experiencing a sugar high. And this addiction can be a tough habit to break.
4. You're moody.
When you eat sugar, you'll have a short-lived burst of energy. And then you'll crash, making you low on energy. And that means you'll be grouchy and crabby. Sure, junk foods can satisfy your taste buds and make you happy for the short term. But, they won't do your long-term mood any good.
5. You've put on a few pounds.
That mid-afternoon snack has to go somewhere, and snacks high in sugar typically pack pounds onto your midsection. That is because too much sugar leads to increased insulin levels. And that insulin often puts fat in your belly as opposed to other body parts. So if your jeans are suddenly snug, it may be time to curb the sugary snacks and sugar-sweetened drinks.
6. You've had a few cavities filled lately.
Sure, sometimes cavities are beyond our control due to factors such as age. But cavities are often the sign of a sweet tooth. In fact, a recent study found that excess added sugar was the biggest culprit for dental decay. Don't panic; you don't have to give up sweets for good. You just have to consume ones that are good for you. Look to sources like low-sugar yogurt, low-fat milk or fresh berries. You can cut back on added sugars slowly, eliminating one sweet from your diet each week.
7. Your brain is in a fog.
A lot of factors impact forgetfulness like lack of sleep or stress. But sugar is a culprit, too. Yes, your brain needs a steady supply of blood glucose to function properly. But you don't want a quick rise in blood sugar and then a sharp decline, which is what happens when you consume added sugar.
8. Sweets don't taste like they used to taste.
When you eat sugar all the time, your taste buds need more sugar to feel like something is the right sweetness. Your whole sense of taste is off kilter since all that excess sugar is dulling your palate. So, what should taste sweet doesn't anymore.
9. You're down in the dumps.
Multiple studies have suggested a link between depression and a diet high in sugar. When you maintain a high-sugar diet, it raises inflammation in the body and the brain. And that's linked to higher incidences of depression. A recent study found that brain inflammation was 30 percent higher in clinically depressed patients.