How to Curb a Sweet Tooth
If you occasionally crave the taste of sweetness, eating a small amount of table sugar every so often is not a big deal. But, it’s easy to overdo it if you’re not careful. That’s because sugar consumption can easily lead to a vicious circle — the more you eat, the more you will want.
Here’s why: As soon as you place a sweet in your mouth, your body will produce a surge of dopamine, a “feel-good” hormone that has addictive propensities. Then, as the sugar enters your bloodstream, your pancreas will release insulin to control your blood glucose levels. This will naturally suppress your body’s production of leptin, a “fullness” hormone, which will make you want to keep eating sugar. Then, as your body digests the glucose, your previously spiked dopamine level will fall precipitously, prompting you to seek another jolt of energy by eating even more sugar.
While sugar may taste good, eating too much of it can negatively affect your health in a number of ways. Some possible consequences include weight gain, tooth decay, nutritional deficiencies, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even cancer, just to name a few.
The key to curbing an over-active sweet tooth is to gradually allow your taste buds to adapt to less sweetness. Here are some small changes that can make a big difference over time:
- Avoid hidden sources of sugar. Carefully read product labels to identify foods that have added sugar (there are many). Look for mentions of stealth ingredients like cane sugar, fructose, glucose, maltose, sucrose, molasses, malt syrup, fruit juice, and corn syrup.
- Gradually reduce the amount of sugar you add to beverages. For instance, if you usually add two packets of sugar to each cup of coffee, cut down to one, and then to one-half.
- Eat whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juice (keep in mind that the sugars that occur naturally in fruits do not have the same detrimental effects on the body, mainly because most fruits are loaded with fiber and water and take more time to eat and digest than their junk-food counterparts).
- Opt for plain, unsweetened yogurt, and perhaps add some fresh fruit and cinnamon.
So, how much sugar is too much? The American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than 150 calories from sugar each day, which is roughly equivalent to 37.5 grams or nine teaspoons. For women, the maximum recommended amount is 100 calories, which is about 25 grams or six teaspoons. For perspective, a twelve-ounce can of regular soda contains about 140 calories from sugar, while a regular-sized candy bar contains about 120 calories from sugar.
Here’s the most important takeaway: There is no need for added sugar in your diet, and the less sugar you eat, the healthier you will be.
If you have questions about nutrition or other health-related topics, please contact or visit the South Tampa Immediate Care walk-in clinic. For more tips on how to keep yourself and your family healthy, be sure to check out our online series of health articles.