by Jacquelyn J. Core JD PhD

There are only 16 calories in a teaspoon of sugar… relatively few when you consider how many calories we consume in a day, but don’t get lulled into believing that sugar is harmless. Here are 5 reasons why you should dump sugar.

1. It’s hard to eat a little- Sugar is hidden in almost everything. Sure, it’s obvious that you will be consuming mass amounts of sugar and the calories that come with it if you start downing doughnuts or sucking down soda, but sugar is hidden in more things and more forms than you ever imagined. Ketchup, bread, salad dressing. Even if you vow to quit sugar you will likely get some in forms you never imagined. Label reading can sometimes seem like looking at a Where’s Waldo book, but it can help you find hiding sugars, which can allow you to make healthier choices. Look for sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar, brown rice syrup, fructose, sucralose, and corn syrup, among others.
2. Sugar is like a drug- In fact, sugar causes the release of dopamine, which gives us a feeling of euphoria. But, the high is short lived and leaves us wanting more or feeling zapped of our natural energy. Other sugary symptoms include headaches and extreme fatigue.
3. Sugar can make you sick- The culprit of tooth decay and belly aches can cause bigger issues. Related to diabetes and heart disease, sugar can do more than just cause a temporary problem. Some research suggests it may be more dangerous than saturated fat when it comes to disease
4. There is no nutritional value in sugar- Quite simply, sugar gives you NONE of what your body needs. Nutrient dense foods should always be your focus, but nothing good can be said about sugar. Let’s be clear: there are exactly zero essential nutrients in sugar.
5. Sugar can lead to weight gain- Obesity and sugar go hand in hand. Fructose can store in the liver, disrupt metabolism, and lead to weight gain and eventual obesity. Fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does. And all those “fat free foods”… well you might find them high in sugar. Fat is often flavor, and when flavor needs to be replaced then sugar is a cheap answer in processed foods.

Remember that you cannot outrun the fork. All the exercise in the world will not save you from an unhealthy diet. Good food choices are key to weight control.

Behavior change is hard. Slow and steady wins the race. Instead of trying to quit sugar cold turkey, how about starting by cutting out sodas and sweetened coffee and tea? Soon I will be sharing tips to reduce your sugar intake.

At the Y we encourage holistic wellness. We are concerned about your health and the health of our community. We are concerned about physical health, mental health, and spiritual health, as well as the health of our local economy, the environment, transportation, and all the factors that affect our holistic health and the strength of our community. Breaking up with sugar is one cog in the wellness wheel.