By now, most of us are familiar with the phrase “New year, new you.” The problem is… all too often, many of us eat healthily in January, but once February rolls around, it’s easy to fall back into old habits. Luckily, there’s ONE resolution you can stick to that can result in some real positive changes all year long: the resolution to quit sugar.
Sugar in Your Diet: How Much is Too Much?
Most people consume far more sugar than is healthy – and the truth is, almost ALL of us can benefit from cutting sugar. If you’re not convinced that you’d benefit from reducing sugar in your diet, take a look at these facts:
- The average adult in the United States eats way more sugar than they should – their daily sugar intake is more than double what doctors recommend.1
- Adults and children receive far more of their calories from added sugar than recommended – with the bulk of those calories coming from sweets (like cakes, cookies, and chocolates).2
- The average person in the United States consumes 60 pounds of added sugar every year – and that doesn’t include naturally-occurring sugars.3
These facts are shocking – it’s all too easy to consume large amounts of sugar without ever realizing quite how much you’re eating.
Facts About Sugar
Almost all foods, including natural foods, contain some sugars. Without careful decision-making, sugar is almost impossible to avoid. However, eating too much sugar can result in all kinds of negative impacts. For instance:
- High-sugar diets lead to weight gain and can make it harder to lose weight.4
- Too much sugar can cause a lack of mental sharpness and a “foggy” mental feeling. Heightened blood sugar levels can lead to mood swings and even long-term mental health impacts.5
- Short-term energy bursts from sugar can also cause you to “crash” later – leading to exhaustion and low energy.6
- Diets high in sugar can increase a person’s risk of serious disease. People who quit sugar (or simply reduce how much sugar they consume) may experience a boost to their overall health.7
- Sugar can be addictive – in fact, it can affect the brain in the same way as some addictive drugs.8
In addition to all of those issues, diets high in sugar can also impact your gut health. People who suffer from digestive problems can benefit from a resolution to quit sugar. Here’s why:
Sugar and Digestive Health
Your stomach contains healthy bacteria, which helps digest food, absorb nutrients, and maintain digestive health. There are literally thousands of different kinds of bacteria in your gut – and the key to healthy digestion is having the right balance of bacteria.
Eating sugar can feed “bad” bacteria while starving “good” bacteria. That imbalance can lead to digestive problems and other health problems down the road. On the other hand, it’s easier to maintain a good bacteria balance and optimal digestive health if you quit sugar, or maintain a low-sugar diet.9
How Much Sugar Should You Eat?
So, when it comes to a healthy, balanced diet… just how much sugar is a good amount?
Everyone’s body is different, but there are a few guidelines to keep in mind when setting a low-sugar diet:
→ Lots of health foods contain natural sugar, or glucose. Glucose can be beneficial because it promotes healthy bacteria and helps you feel full – so you actually eat less. When planning a healthy diet, aim to cut out artificial or added sugars, rather than natural sugars.10
→ Some health professionals recommend that the average daily sugar intake comprise no more than 10 percent of your daily calories consumed.11
→ The American Heart Association recommends men eat no more than 150 calories of sugar per day, while women eat no more than 100 calories of sugar per day.12
Tips to Reduce Sugar
Does it feel too extreme to quit sugar? It doesn’t have to be, as long as you make smart choices with your meals. Here are a few tips to help you adopt a low-sugar diet plan:
ONE: Always read labels when you buy food. Lots of foods aren’t sweet, but they still contain added sugars that you can’t even taste.13 Knowledge is power, and it’s key to making informed choices when you cut sugar.
TWO: When possible, try to cook your own meals from scratch. That way, you’re in total control of how much sugar actually goes into your dish.
THREE: If you get a craving for something sweet, grab a piece of fresh fruit (or something that’s naturally sweet) rather than reaching for candy, soda, or other processed products with too much sugar.
FOUR: Be suspicious of foods that are low-fat, or ones that are targeted toward dieters. That may sound like exactly what you’re looking for – but in reality, many low-fat foods add even more sugar to compensate for the lack of fat.14
FIVE: If you do quit sugar, don’t replace it with artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes, which come with their own set of unpleasant health risks.15
Given how prevalent sugar consumption is in the typical Western diet, it may seem wild to suggest it’s possible to quit sugar or to maintain a low-sugar diet – but the truth is, plenty of sugar-free foods are quite tasty.
Even better, though, reducing sugar will lead to lots of health benefits – especially when it comes to your digestion.
With the Right Tools, Anyone Can Quit Sugar
Any new diet can seem intimidating at first, especially if it involves cutting out a favorite food. However, your body will thank you once you make the healthy choice to cut sugar or reduce your daily sugar intake. This makes the resolution to quit sugar one that’s worth sticking to!
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