Did you know that the average American consumes up to 183 lbs of sugar each year?!
These consumption patterns have the potential to lead to major health issues such as: Type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and liver disease.
The USDA recommends that no more than 10% of a person’s daily calorie intake should come from added sugars, which is about 40-48 grams of sugar per day for someone who is eating about 2,000 calories per day. However, added sugar is found in so much of the food on our grocery store shelves that it is actually really hard to avoid overdoing it.
For example, below I’ve listed the sugar content of some commonly consumed foods. Note that many of these are generally perceived as healthy:
- Soda: serving size 12oz, 33 grams
- Orange juice: serving size 1 cup, 20 grams
- Raisins: serving size ½ cup, 43 grams
- Fruited yogurt: serving size 8oz, 43 grams
- Granola: serving size ½ cup, 13 grams
- Banana: serving size ½ cup, 9 grams
- Candy bar: serving size 1 bar, 36 grams
Here is an infographic that visualizes the havoc sugar, like that found in soda, can cause to your body:
In addition, a high sugar diet can destroy your microbiome. Bad bacteria thrives on sugar and can completely destroy your gut health, which is arguably an indicator of your overall health.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, though, one estimate says that approximately 75% of packaged food in the United States contains added sugar. You actually have to be really diligent to avoid it. Further, studies have shown sugar to be highly addictive, so your overconsumption is potentially triggered not by innocent taste bud cravings, but instead by intense reward instincts. How bad can a sugar addiction really be? Rats have been shown to choose sugar over cocaine in some lab settings because the reward is greater. This is true even for subjects that already have a developed drug addiction.
But don’t worry, the battle against sugar is not totally hopeless. Like most addictions, sugar cravings can be curbed by creating new, healthier habits, such as:
- Avoid eating packaged foods as much as possible.
- Read nutrition labels and be aware of how much sugar you are consuming each day.
- Opt for healthier desserts like dark chocolate or my Cherry Chocolate Truffles.
- Don’t deprive yourself too much. If you are craving something sweet, munch on some berries which are high in fiber and low in sugar compared to most fruit out there. If you try to give it up completely you may fall victim to a binge episode.
Sources: New York Times, Prevention, PLOS One