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Beat the Sweets

Ann Wigmore says “the food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”


When you consider what you eat on a regular basis, do you think you're nourishing your body, or slowly poisoning yourself? If you have a sweet tooth, it may be the latter.


While it’s true that we need sugar, we're eating excessive amounts which is negatively affecting our health. The average American is consuming nearly 66 pounds of sugar every year, or 20 teaspoons a day. The recommended intake is no more than six teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day for women, and nine teaspoons (38 grams) for men.


Where is all this sugar coming from?


Consider what you drink in a typical day. Beverages are the single largest source of added sugar in a typical diet. Soda, energy and sports drinks, sweetened coffee, and juices with added sugar contribute 36% of the added sugar in the diet.


Would you be shocked to learn that 80% of foods sold in grocery stores contain added sugar? There are several reasons for adding sugar to foods, from flavoring and texture to inhibiting microbial growth and ensuring the browning of foods when microwaved. Diet foods often contain extra sugar to help improve their taste and palatability, and to add bulk and texture in place of fat. Bottled sauces, dressings, condiments, and marinades often contain high fructose corn syrup.


Sugar can harm the body in countless ways. Below are some of the ways a high-sugar diet can affect you.

  • Your Brain: Sugar releases the feel-good chemical called dopamine. As we eat more sugar, we need higher amounts in order to get the same feeling of pleasure, leading to those “gotta-have-it” cravings.

  • Your Mood: Studies have linked a high sugar intake to a greater risk of depression in adults.

  • Your Teeth: After eating something sweet, cavity-causing bacteria feeds on the sugar that lingers.

  • Your Joints: Sugar can cause inflammation in the body, worsening joint pain. Additionally, research shows that sugar consumption can increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Your Skin: Inflammation can cause the skin to age faster.

  • Your Liver: Over time, excess sugar intake can cause your liver to become resistant to insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

  • Your Heart: Excess sugar causing extra insulin can also affect your arteries. Arterial walls grow faster than normal which adds stress to the heart, often leading to heart disease.

Cutting back on the sweet stuff can be hard! As noted above, sugar triggers the reward center of the brain, making you crave higher amounts to give you that same feel-good rush.


But, there are ways to break the sugar cycle. Just as excess sugar rewired your brain in the first place, cutting back can reverse the dependence.


Join Firefly starting tomorrow for the March Beat the Sweets Challenge to reduce your consumption of added refined sugar. This challenge isn't about eliminating sugar all at once, but rather starting the process to reduce your consumption. We'll support each other and share posts, tips and things to try over the month to reduce your cravings for sugar. FYI - you'll need to register as a member of the Facebook group to access the content, but it's free to join!

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