Americans eat more sugar now than any time in history. Our society commonly accepts sugar as a staple even in very large quantities. The average American consumes 100 pounds of sugar a year, equating to about 300 calories per day.
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate. Most people when they think of sugar think of what we put in coffee or use in making cookies and frosting, but sugar comes in many forms including the sugar in fruit (fructose), milk sugar (lactose) and the sugar we have in our bodies (glucose) just to name a few.
Sugar may be addictive. When a lot of sugar is consumed it stimulates the release of dopamine in our brain. The release of dopamine makes us feel pleasure. The drugs morphine, cocaine and sugar all stimulate the same brain receptors.
The food industry is in the business of making money, and has aggressively marketed high sugar foods, especially towards children. Michael Moss published a great book Salt, Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us that explains the world of processed and packaged foods.
Eating less sugar is linked with weight-loss and eating more is linked with weight gain. Sugar increases body weight mainly by encouraging overeating, according to Walter Willett, Chair of Nutrition at Harvard.
To avoid sugar try these quick tips:
- Eat natural food such as fresh fruit and vegetables
- Avoid processed foods
- Don’t eat foods in packages
- Eat foods that will go bad or rot
- Eat foods that walked the earth, flew in the sky, swam in the ocean or grew in the soil.
By Molly McBrayer, MSN, RN-BC, CNOR, NE-BC, AGACNP-BC, Clinical Manager for Bariatric and Metabolic Services