The American Heart Association has set guidelines for adults regarding the sweet stuff to keep us in check.
37.5 grams (9 teaspoons) daily for men, and 25 grams (6 teaspoons) daily for women.
Totally reasonable-seeming, except... when you take into account some of the foods college students (or Americans) eat on the reg.
A 12-oz Coke has 39 grams of sugar.
A Red Bull has 27 grams of sugar.
A grande Starbucks mocha has 35 grams of sugar
8oz of Westsoy Soy Milk (Vanilla) has 8 grams of sugar.
A Banana Nut Bread Clif Bar has 21 grams of sugar.
6 oz of Strawberry YoPlait has 27 grams of sugar
8 baby carrots have 4 grams of sugar
A cup of apple slices has 11 grams of sugar.
Ever woken up, had some yogurt and a freezer waffle with syrup or maybe a PopTart (20-30 grams of sugar!), gone to a restaurant, ordered a full sugar soda, gotten 2 or 3 refills (100 grams sugar!) , gone home, chowed down on a cookie or a handfull of candy (20 grams), snacked on something like a granola bar (21 grams), had a bowl of soup and toast (8 grams sugar) and treated yourself to a brownie (21 grams)?
It doesn't sound like an awful day. Every treat is balanced with a healthy meal. But with almost 200 grams of sugar, it's a recipe for chronic disease.
But all this sweet stuff definitely has an effect on our moods, bodies and health- short and long term.
Too much sugar can:
- Cause weight gain, specifically belly fat weight gain
- Put you at higher risk for diabetes
- Feed cancer cells, putting individuals prone to cancer at a higher risk
- Keep your immune system from functioning top notch
- Increase risk of osteoporosis
- Drive up cholesterol
- Cause inflammation in the body
- Affect mood
- And more!
A lot of girls shrug off sugar intakes in the name of "good body image."
"I'm eating Oreos (34 grams of sugar per serving) because I'm confident enough in my body that I can eat really unhealthily and feel OK about it."
"It's ok to treat myself to this eggnog latte/bag of candy/entire pint of ice cream because I'm moody/PMSing/have chemistry today/stayed up late/walked a block so I deserve it."
Stop! Not only does sugar make you cranky, hungry, and fat (specifically, it promotes belly fat!)
It hurts your long-term to over-consume sugars. Sugar consumption has been related to higher risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease. All of these are expensive, deadly, painful medical conditions that shorten lives and while you have them, severely worsen quality of life. Not worth a few moments of tastiness.
Now there's a reason we like sugar, and a lot of it is genetic. I know that I like sugar more than, say, my boyfriend or my best friend. I like it more when I'm feelin' hormonal. Once I have a few bites, I want a few more bites. That doesn't, however, give me free reign to eat a jumbo bag of Swedish Fish or down a Venti soy hot cocoa every time I'm stressed.
(This is a new revelation. I used to eat mainly spinach and Brussel sprouts so I could also eat chocolate and vegan ice cream, because, hey, calorie balance!)
There are some healthy ways to deal with sugar cravings and sugar consumption.
- First ask yourself, are you really hungry? A lot of times I reach for candy when I'm thirsty, stressed, bored, tired, want a hug, procrastinating, etc. Fix the problem, don't slap a cake-bandaid on it.
- Eat a healthy, filling alternative. You want something sweet. Try celery (or carrots!) and almond or peanut butter, an apple or some grapes, a cup of tea, or some PLAIN (soy) yogurt. Drink water. Eat some raw nuts.
- Phone a friend, and while on the phone, take a walk.
- Here's a more extreme, but totally worthwhile one: for 3-5 days, cut out all added sugars and artificial sweeteners. Read labels and even limit sweet fruits. Doing so will "reset" your tastebuds and make you more conscious of the sweets you consume.
- If after everything, you're still craving cake, candy, that Oreo, a mocha, by all means, have it... just start with a serving size (or half of one)
What I've realized in my life is that I could read tons of evidence suggesting that sugar (or any substance... excess fat, junk food..) was harmful to my body, and all it is is a bunch of words. I'd still be eating it if I didn't think the food would personally harm me.
Majority of us know that Mountain Dew and Reese's are sugary. We know sugar isn't healthy. But until we stop believing that we are untouchable from the negative side effects of eating these tasty foods, we won't make moves to cut them from our diets.
Just because you may not see negative side effects right now or in the next 5 years from eating tons of sugar (besides some extra padding), doesn't mean you won't see them in 10 or 25 years, in the form of cancer, diabetes or heart disease. The body you have now is the only one you'll ever get.
Do you have a sweet tooth? How do you satisfy it?
Mostly fruit and soy lattes for me, but occasionally I treat myself so I don't go crazy! Passionfruit tea is also awesome!
Do you feel like you have a sugar "problem?" How much sugar do you get daily?
I challenge you to count added sugars for a day or two, it can be eye opening!