Making Healthy Choices: Buh Bye, Sugar

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Who doesn't love a nice sugary cupcake?

I know I do. Truly I could probably live on cupcakes and bread and butter for the rest of my life, but that would probably make my life pretty short.

One of my big goals as I knock on the big 4-0 is to make the most of my physical health. That included removing toxic chemicals from my home, getting more sleep and now onto the big one, improving the way I eat.

One of the changes I've decided to make is reducing the sugar in my diet. I've got several reasons to make this change, one being my memories of when my father was diagnosed with Diabetes.

I don't remember the day, because technically I don't know that there was ever an announcement. But I remember when the little pink packets of substitute entered our home and the 5 pound bag of the real stuff was no longer a staple in the kitchen pantry.

Now, many years later, I find myself in a position of wanting to improve my health, my family's health, and that means I am revisiting the sugar issue.

But it's different now.

First of all, outside of holiday baking, my family doesn't use real sugar.  But now, sugar seems to be in everything, I mean EVERYTHING.  So the process of getting rid of sugar feels so much more daunting. The Huffington Post reports that in the US, the average person consumes more than 126 grams of sugar daily. Since we're not just running around eating teaspoons of sugar, it's clear that hidden sugar is a huge problem.

However, after watching two separate family members battle health conditions recently, the task feels not only possible, but necessary.  I'm not sure that it will be easy, but since eliminating sugar from my diet could save me from myriad health problems in the future, I'm ready. Here are are a few reasons I think you should join me.

Sugar Is Linked To Depression

Sugar is on Prevention’s list of 5 foods that cause depression - and for good reason. Multiple studies have suggested that there is a link between a diet rich in sugar and depression.  It’s important to remember that the foods you eat don’t just release their nutrients, sugars, and calories into your belly and thighs; they also send them up to your brain. Pay attention to your mood after a sugar rush, the fall is usually not worth the temporary boost of energy.

Sugar Is Linked To High Blood Pressure

More and more American’s are being diagnosed with high blood pressure, and the American Heart Association has recently revised the opinion of what is considered high, noting that anything higher than 130/80 is the danger zone.  High blood pressure is linked to all kinds of ongoing problems from heart disease to stroke.  Sort of makes that after dinner slice of cake look not so tempting.

Sugar Is Addictive

While sugar is not classed as a drug, its effects are similar to heroin. Yes, heroin! For this reason, sugar is just as addictive as illegal drugs. They hijack the same neural pathways as heroin and cocaine and leave people craving more and more. This is especially concerning for kids whose little brains are developing are still growing.  This also brings to mind those hangry moods we see when kids are demanding candy and juice in the checkout line at your local.

Sugar Is Linked To Diabetes

No doubt, the biggest connection researchers have made is the one between sugar and diabetes. Diabetes happens when your pancreas doesn’t create enough insulin, which is the hormone we rely on to turn sugar into fuel.  The lasting impact of Diabetes is something my family knows all too well. From neuropathy and blindness to amputation, the pain and consequences are rarely reversible and almost always preventable. 

You’ll Feel Less Hungry

Although this isn't necessarily a health benefit, reducing hunger goes a long way toward goals to lose excess body weight.  Sugar's natural addictive properties can actually trick your brain into wanting more food than you need.  By reducing sugar, especially when you replace it with more whole foods rich in fiber and other nutrients, you'll feel less hungry and are less likely to make food choices that keep you from your health goals.

Do you need to kick the sugar habit too?  Leave a comment so I can cheer you on!