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Who doesn’t enjoy a nice cold fizzy soda or a sweet and chewy candy bar? From television ads to grocery store checkout lanes, we can’t seem to get away from these tasty treats. Maybe that’s why an estimated 93 million Americans, almost one-third of the population, are living with obesity. When just one soda a day with its 17 teaspoons of sugar increases a child’s chance of becoming obese by 60 percent and an adult’s chance of developing Type II Diabetes by 26 percent, how can the problem do anything but continue to grow?

While it’s technically not an addiction, the habitual overconsumption of sugary products is driven by many factors, both internal and external. Internally, your brain cells consider sugar a reward that provides quick fuel. Externally, the average American child is exposed to an average of 10 food-related advertisements every day, 98 percent of which promote products high in fat, sodium, and sugar.

 

Socioeconomic Challenges

Accounting for nearly 38 percent of the over 300 million people in the United States, individuals who racially identify themselves as non-white are at a higher risk for sugar-related health issues. Those watching Spanish-language programming see 49 percent more ads for sugar-containing beverages than those watching English-language programming. As opposed to one in seven white children aged 2 to 19, one in every five black children is considered obese. Furthermore, it is estimated that 45 percent of overweight or obese American children between the ages of 10 and 17 is poor, of which over 58% identify as non-white.

 

It Starts With You

Despite the associated hurtles, only you can kick your sugar addiction. There are plenty of fad diets out there that call for a sugar detox, but you must be careful. Even healthy foods, like fruit, dairy, and grains contain starch and sugar. If you consume any sugar- or starch-containing foods on a daily basis, like most Americans, cutting out these foods too quickly or altogether can result in a dangerous downward spike in blood sugar, leaving you feeling exhausted, shaky, and actually in need for more sugar.

The most effective treatment for sugar addiction is the slow incorporation of a lifestyle change, consisting of increased hydration and decreased sugar intake. It is important to remember poor diet is not always the only factor putting you at a higher risk for obesity and other related diseases, so talk to your doctor today. Improving and maintaining your body’s health is a lifelong commitment, but the following steps are a good place to start:

  • Retrain your taste buds by cutting out one sugary food per week.
  • Choose sweets containing naturally-occurring or raw sugar, like fruit or milk.
  • Eat a variety of low-fat protein throughout the day.
    • You’ll feel fuller and more alert longer because protein takes longer to break down than sugar.
    • Introduce lean meats, like chicken and turkey, or complementary proteins, like peas and beans, into your diet.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners; they’re sweeter than regular sugar, so they actually make your cravings worse!
  • Stay full on fiber, hydrated with water, and get plenty of exercise and rest.

Following these tips can help you kick your sugar addiction before it kicks you!

 

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