Cutting Out Sugar

Our bodies are addicted to sugar. We don’t just want it, we crave it, need it. Cutting back sugar can greatly change your diet, and it eliminates foods you may not even expect. In a class I took here at Marquette, sugar addiction was compared to many illegal drugs and found to be more addictive. You wouldn’t expect it to be as dangerous as cocaine, heroin or other drugs, however, it may be. Think of all the negative risks of craving foods when we do not need them. Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease kill enormous numbers of people in the US every year, and could all be the result of dietary dangers.

In this article from Harvard medicine, they argue that the sugar itself could be causing heart concerns, and even those who are not overweight, but consume a high sugar diet, are at risk. Most of our sugars come from sugary beverages like soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and juices. Even one soda per day puts one over the daily recommendation of sugar. In addition to beverages, deserts like cookies, cakes, ice cream etc. as well as cereal, bread, and pasta are big sugar weights on the diet.

These “empty calories” are foods we consume that do not provide us with nutritional value via vitamins, minerals, or meet other dietary needs. When these make up a certain percentage of one’s diet it sets them up for Diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. The argument has been made that the total number of calories eaten is not as important as the quality of those calories for the development of Diabetes. The empty calories we consume trick our brains into believing we are not full, they do not satiate us as well. This causes us to overeat leading to increasing our empty calorie count. This article goes deeper into the science and politics behind the high sugar problems our society faces. Perhaps this is the idea behind the free bread at a restaurant? Why else would they give us free stuff?

Now, if we know it is bad for us, the question remains as to how to cut it down or out of our diets. There are multiple ways to go about this; however, making a plan is important. These 12 steps are the right idea, however, you many need to pick and choose what works for you. It’s important to learn how to read a nutrition label and look into ways to sweeten without sugar. Honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract are alternative ways to sweeten foods. Cutting sweets out of a diet entirely, can be very difficult; however, cutting down alone can have benefits. Trying not to drink sugars makes a big difference, and is a first step if it is overwhelming to try to do it all at once. In short, look around for a method that works for you, and be educated about what is adding sugar to your diet.

Lastly, like many things, this isn’t for everyone and while I believe that we could all cut out some sugar and feel healthier, this may not be the case for you. If you are concerned about changing your diet and need a second opinion talk to a registered dietician or your doctor.

Shannon Gambon

Employee Wellness Intern

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