You already know that sugar’s awful for you – no breaking news there – but we still eat an absurd amount of it every single day.
Here in the U.S., the average American eats 126.4 grams of added sugar per day. That’s the equivalent of 42 sugar cubes or 500 calories (whaaaaat??). Second place Germany barely tops 100 grams per day.
And considering the FDA says no more than 50 grams per day (which we think is still ludicrously high), we’re not doing so hot.
So yes, the double chocolate chip cookies and 44 oz Dr. Peppers are doing a chunk of the damage, but we’re frustrated at how many seemingly healthy and everyday foods at the store have added sugar. (BTW, I’m lumping high fructose corn syrup and other corn syrup derivatives in with sugar for this post)
And all this sugar talk? We’re not even mentioning the empty and fattening calories we get from white flour. All in all, we’re a carboholic society.
It’s killing us, fast.
Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat, Sugar Does
First of all, if you haven’t seen the excellent piece in the New York Times exposing the corruption of the sugar industry, get on that. Back in the 60’s, the sugar barons paid off researchers to show that fat caused obesity and heart attacks, not sugar.
And that helped kick off our hatred of fat – despite no real evidence. In fact, we need saturated fat, and cholesterol from healthy sources as part of a balanced diet. We do not need even a single teaspoon of added sugar to survive.
In the past 100 years
- Calories consumed from fat have dropped 33%.
- Heart attacks have increased 30%.
- Sugar consumption in the last century has nearly tripled.
In other words, fat can’t be causing heart attacks – but sugar comes in as the prime suspect.
You’re Addicted, and Here’s Why
If you’re at all like us, then you’ve been on and off the sugar train multiple times. We’ve tried to kick the habit (or cut down), and it’s really… stinking… hard.
The heart-stopping smell of a pan of brownies just removed from the oven, or the perfect soft chewiness of a chocolate chip cookie. Even biting into a Twix bar – these things are bliss.
But they’re chemically designed to be addicting, which is why 75% of packaged foods have added sugar. Food industries know that your bread and tomato sauce taste better with a little added sugar, and it keeps you coming back for more.
In fact, I recently came across this doozy of a headline on ABC’s website:
“Study: Sugar Hidden in Junk Food Eight Times More Addictive Than Cocaine.”
So don’t worry, it’s not like it’s hard to kick the habit or anything…
(In fact, makes you wonder why it’s not illegal right? It’s overwhelmingly addicting, 2/3 of adults are overweight, and heart attacks are easily the most common cause of death. Sounds like a bigger problem than the cocaine industry, right?)
According to cardiologist James O’Keefe, sugar contributes to heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s. He says:
“When we eat wheat flour and sugar in processed foods, [it] spikes our sugar, then insulin. Those are hormonal disturbances that make you store belly fat, and then you are hungry for more sweets and starchy junk food.”
One of our favorite hobbies (yes, we’re dorks) is to read food labels at the store. We’re appalled at how often we find added sugar in the most random foods, like:
- Tomato sauce
- Pickles (huh?)
- Peanut butter
- Fat-free foods
- Protein shakes
- Energy bars
- Twinkies (oh wait)
At that’s not even counting foods that have more sugar than we think, like yogurt, cereal, bbq sauce, and more.
All in all, you and I are probably addicted to sweets – and it’s because our entire food supply is designed to make that happen.
How Do I Know if I’m Addicted?
Here are some of the signs that you’re eating too much sugar:
- Overweight and can’t lose it
- Fluctuations in energy levels (2 pm wall, anyone?)
- Mood swings
- Poor complexion
- High blood pressure
- Puffy or bloated (high carb intake makes you retain water weight)
- Poor gut health (stomach issues, indigestion, gas – processed sugar kills off the good gut bacteria)
- Can’t. Put. Down. The. Oreos.
- Constant Headaches
Coincidence that most of those issues sound like the most common things us Americans suffer from? But instead of cutting sugar, we get addicted to sleeping pills, antidepressants, or buy expensive face wash and go on extreme weight loss plans.
Why not try cutting sugar from your diet? You’ll actually save money, too.
Let’s Fix That Addiction
The one thing that gives me hope is this:
“The big predictor of whether someone will like something like bitter melon or hoppy beer isn’t their sensitivity to bitterness,” Marcia Pelchat, a sensory psychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center. “It’s their exposure to it, their motivation, their interest. It’s all cultural stuff.”
In other words, our taste buds change when we become familiar with a food – not necessarily because of some inborn factor. While some people are genetically predisposed to be more affected by sugar, those same people can literally change their taste buds to like different foods.
But here’s the hard part: it can take 6 weeks to break your sugar addiction – and much less time than that to get addicted again. So, it’s pretty much like everything else in life.
And if you’ve ever detoxed from something before, you know to expect some not-so-fun results – like sleeplessness, irritability, and headaches. But in the long run? Absolutely worth, a thousand times over.
Here’s our best tips for breaking your sugar addiction:
- Start reading labels and understand how added sugars are getting into your diet. By July 26, 2018, “added sugars” will be added to food labels. Yay!
- Suck it up and wean off sugar. Yes, that stinks. A lot. But both of us have noticed a decreased desire to eat sugary things once we’ve started kicking it to the curb.
- Find healthy alternatives when the cravings start coming. Have your favorite fruit instead of a brownie, drink kombucha instead of a soda, make your own healthy chocolate instead of eating a Hershey bar, etc.
- When you start kicking your addiction, be weary of getting back on the sugar train because you will jump on FAST.
- Do a juice cleanse. Honestly, truly, without a doubt, the quickest and easiest way to kick the habit. We’ve done 7-day juice cleanses and had almost zero desire to eat sugary junk food afterwards.
During a juice cleanse, you’re doing a couple of things:
- Flooding your body with phytonutrients, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that rebalance your hormones and help your gut bacteria regrow. Your body will crave healthy foods like a Ferrari craves premium gas to stay in tip-top shape.
- Basically going cold turkey on processed sugar. You’re retraining your taste buds to pick up that celery stalk or apple for a quick snack. I know that might sound awful, but what if that’s what your body craved? Wouldn’t that be amazing? I know if I could snap my fingers and make myself hate sugar, I’d do it this second.
If you’re struggling with a sugar addiction and want the quickest way, we can help you out. We created a guide called Juicing the Right Way – it’s a step-by-step download that helps you make tasty juices, take the right supplements, and keep on track with a daily schedule. Join us, and improve all aspects of your health faster than you thought possible.
What has been your experience with sugar? Is it something you struggle with?