Health

Hey, Sugar, I’m So Over You

As endless sweets and treats come our way this holiday season, let's call the whole thing off

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us — especially for those who like the sweeter things in life.

The holidays bring with them such a wonderful array of pies on the table, cookies from neighbors, pans of homemade fudge from generations-old recipes, cakes fresh out of the oven, sugar-coated sweet potatoes with turkey and ham, and warmed alcoholic concoctions to wash it all down — and that’s just for starters.

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No wonder we fall into a coma on the couch after every meal.

We’ve been told time and again that excessive sugar consumption can have devastating health effects. Yet we don’t seem to care. As a nation, we’ve done little to change our snacking and dining habits, despite knowing the added sugars we constantly consume put us at higher risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay — and potentially even mental health problems, cancer, and erectile dysfunction. 

Why? In part because we don’t know how to cut it out, nor are we sure of how much we’re consuming, according to Healthline.com, a leading health information website.

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[lz_bulleted_list title=”Biggest Added Sugar Offenders” source=”http://www.health.harvard.edu”]Sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks are by far the biggest sources of added sugar in the average American’s diet. They account for more than a third of the added sugar we consume. Other important sources include cookies, cakes, pastries, and similar treats; fruit drinks; ice cream, frozen yogurt and the like; candy; and ready-to-eat cereals.[/lz_bulleted_list]

“People are not aware of how much sugar is in certain foods,” said Tracy Stickler, editor-in-chief of Healthline. “The little things make a difference, such as switching to a tomato sauce brand that contains less sugar, or by swapping out that frappuccino habit for herbal tea. People who try adding berries to full-fat plain yogurt will probably learn to enjoy that option even more than their pre-flavored low-fat yogurt, which tends to contain a lot of sugar. Our CEO David Kopp, who has quit sugar, started by cutting out desserts.”

The site recently surveyed 3,000 Americans about their knowledge of sugar, their own sugar consumption, and the effects all of this has on them. Two out of three responded that sugar was their main concern (over fat and carbs) and admit they need to reduce their intake. And while they feel guilty about eating sugar, they don’t fully understand how much sugar is contained in their foods, nor do they fully comprehend the role of sugar in their physical addiction.

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Because of this, Healthline.com has launched a #BreakUpWithSugar campaign featuring a series of articles, shareable infographics, animations, videos, and social events. And regardless of whether people gain additional insight from their website or other sources, Stickler said the hope is simply for a healthier future for Americans and their families.

“We’ve been misinformed for so long that excess sugar consumption has become an epidemic,” said Stickler. “For years, the sugar industry misled the public by placing the blame on fat for weight gain. We’ve learned otherwise and now know that the body can’t fully metabolize refined sugars. The liver simply turns it into fat. It’s not easy to give up sugar entirely, but helping people become conscious of their intake and reduce it will make more people healthier, and that’s our goal.”

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