Why + How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Let’s be honest, we all love sugar. It adds sweetness to everything and we consume a lot of it as a society. One snack once in a while doesn’t cause a major problem, but there are many benefits to reducing the amount of sugar you’re regularly eating and drinking. This includes sugar from fruit juices and carbonated beverages, as well as chocolate and candy.
Why to Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Everyone knows that sugar is bad for your health, but just how bad is it? Here are some shocking reasons to start reducing your daily sugar intake.
Sugar creates inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is the leading cause of all chronic diseases and cancers. If you are someone who is experiencing any kind of health issue or physical pain, reducing your sugar intake is a great step to take towards reducing overall inflammation in your body. When this habit is sustained over time, it can help reduce the quantity and intensity of any unpleasant symptoms you may be experiencing.
Cancer cells love sugar. If any part of you has been diagnosed as pre-cancerous or cancerous, consider this a strong signal to make all efforts you can in order to significantly reduce your sugar intake.
Poor Oral Health
When you were younger, your parents may have told you “sugar makes your teeth fall out,” and you rolled your eyes. You know that eating sugar is bad for your teeth, but it’s hardly going to make them fall out! Well, it could. Sugar causes caries or decay, which basically means that your teeth start to crumble and have holes in them. When left untreated, these holes get bigger and bigger until the tooth is too small and falls out. Also, sugar can lead to gum disease, which weakens the gums and stops them from holding your teeth in place.
Everything in the body is connected. Your oral health is linked with your general health. Maintaining a healthy mouth can help you maintain a healthy body as well.
You only have one set of adult teeth. With your teeth, you do have chances to correct the situation before it gets out of hand and you need false teeth. In a dire situation, you could get a tooth crown to replace a severely damaged tooth.
Choose to prioritize your dental health now. You can improve your dental hygiene and reverse the negative effects while preventing future issues.
If you allow food particles and sugars to sit on your teeth for long periods of time, it allows for harmful bacteria to build up. To help mitigate this, you can brush and floss your teeth thoroughly immediately after you eat something.
We depend on our immune system to help fight off diseases and infections. This system is very closely linked to our overall nervous system, so it forms a vital part of how our body works. Sugar is bad for your immune system because it stops white blood cells from working properly when high amounts are consumed.
White blood cells are the things that fight off all the viruses and infections that enter your body. So, if they’re not working at full capacity, then there’s more chance of you getting sick.
Do you need to cut sugar out of your diet entirely? No; you can if you want, but there are still many benefits to being slightly more mindful of what you’re eating. Shift your habits around eating sugary treats, stop drinking lots of sugary drinks, and that will go a long way towards preserving your immunity.
Most assume that eating loads of chocolates and cakes will make you gain weight because they’re high in calories. However, if you’re drinking lots of sugar-packed juices every day thinking that you’re being healthy, you can still end up gaining weight due to all the sugar content.
Sugar raises your blood glucose levels, which triggers the production of a substance called insulin. Usually you only make a small amount of this and it helps regulate your blood sugar. But, people who eat too much sugar make too much insulin. The problem is that insulin also tells your body to store fat. In effect, lots of the sugar you eat will end up getting stored as fat cells. Therefore, your body fat percentage increases and you gain weight.
How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Heal Your Relationship with Food
Many of us have distorted relationships with food. Sugar is a particularly triggering food that many associate with “being good” or “getting a reward” as a child. That behavior can carry over into our adult habits where we want to reward ourselves with sugar.
I recommend that you to read my post about healing your relationship with food. Healing your relationship with food is not an overnight process. In order for it to be sustainable, it needs to happen slowly and consistently. There are many mental and emotional aspects to this process so I encourage you to be patient and kind with yourself as you delve into this work.
Make Small Habit Changes
Understand that not all sugars are created equal. There is an entire spectrum. Sugar is often disguised in ingredient lists by so many different names.
Allow yourself to navigate this process of reducing your sugar intake with discernment, patience, honesty, and kindness.
You don’t have to understand everything at once. You have an opportunity to question the ingredients and make different choices every time you eat.
If you’re craving something sweet, try to let it be a food that has quantifiable nutritional benefits. For example, it is better to eat a piece of fruit than a bag of candy. If you eat an orange, you’re getting vitamin C and lots of other micronutrients. Fruits are still sugars, so you’ll want to brush your teeth and floss thoroughly after eating it.
If you’re having a craving for a traditional type of dessert, take the time to carefully consider and decide what will satisfy you the most. What is your absolute favorite dessert that you really don’t want to let go of? Allow yourself to eat a serving of it once every few weeks, and then shift this to once every few months. Realize that eating a homemade dessert made with a small list of organic ingredients is certainly better than eating an inorganic, chemical-filled dessert made with highly processed types of sugars.
Life is meant to be enjoyed. You do not have to deprive yourself of the foods you enjoy most, but by shifting our relationship with them and making small, consistent habit changes, we can begin to make healthier choices that become automatic over time.
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