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Sugar Blues

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Tea Room Conversation, Roots and Wings Yoga and Healing Arts

Geri is a health coach specializing in weight loss and healthy eating/healthy living.

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Tea Room Conversation with Geri Segel,
founder of Breakthroughs in Relationship with Foods

Soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks, coffee drinks, cupcakes, cookies, muffins, doughnuts, granola bars, chocolate, ice cream, sweetened yogurt, cereal, candy. The list of sweet temptations is endless.

The average American now consumes more than 100 pounds of sugar and sweeteners per year. In contrast, Americans consume an average of about 8 pounds of broccoli. The USDA recommends we get no more than 10 teaspoons per day, yet most Americans eat about 22 to 28 teaspoons per day- that’s three times the liberal recommended daily value. That is 350 – 440 empty calories that few of us can afford. How much added sugar is too much? Cutting back to 100 calories (6 1/2 teaspoons) a day might mean slimmer waistlines and lower risk of disease. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that occurs naturally in foods such as grains, beans, vegetables, and fruit. When unprocessed, sugar contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and proteins. When brown rice and other whole grains are cooked, chewed and digested, the natural carbohydrates break down uniformly into separate glucose molecules. These molecules enter the bloodstream, where they are burned smoothly and evenly, allowing your body to absorb all the good stuff.

Refined table sugar, also called sucrose, is very different. Extracted from either sugar cane or beets, it lacks vitamins, minerals and fiber, and thus requires extra effort from the body to digest. The body must deplete its own store of minerals and enzymes to absorb sucrose properly. Therefore, instead of providing the body with nutrition, it creates deficiency. It enters swiftly into the bloodstream and wreaks havoc on the blood sugar level, first pushing it sky high- causing excitability, nervous tension and hyperactivity- and then dropping it extremely low- causing fatigue, depression, weariness and exhaustion. You, as health-conscious people are aware that your blood sugar levels fluctuate widely on a sugar-induced high, but you often don’t realize the emotional roller coaster ride that accompanies this high. The fructose in most added sugars appears to boost liver, muscle, and visceral fat (belly fat). Excess fat anywhere in the body increases the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes, however a fatty liver and visceral fat may increase your risk the most.

“Like heroin, cocaine and caffeine, sugar is an addictive, destructive drug, yet we consume it daily in everything from cigarettes to bread.”
- William Duffy, author of Sugar Blues

Sugar qualifies as an addictive substance for two reasons: 1) eating even a small amount creates a desire for more; 2) suddenly quitting causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue.

The American Heart Association isn’t just concerned about the world wide pandemic of obesity and cardiovascular disease, but is also focused on the healthy foods that sugar replaces. To follow recommendations to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and hypertension, you have to use most of your calories for fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, fish, poultry and oils. Very few calories are left over for empty calories.

Today, sugar is found in many of the usual suspects, like cakes, cookies, and candy. It also hides in many other common foods, such as canned vegetables, baby foods, cereals, peanut butter, bread, and tomato sauce. It is often disguised in fancy language, labeled as corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, glucose or fructose. Even some so-called healthy foods contain sugar: a lemon poppy seed Clif bar has 21 grams of sugar, or 5 teaspoons. Compare that to a chocolate glazed cake donut from Dunkin Donuts, which has 14 grams of sugar, or 3 teaspoons. You might think your afternoon cup of coffee only has a little sugar, but a 16 oz Starbucks Frappuccino actually contains 44 grams of sugar or 10 teaspoons—that’s like eating three donuts! Overconsumption of refined sweets and added sugars found in everyday foods has led to an explosion of hypoglycemia and type 2 diabetes.

Creative yet simple meal planning can help you to feel satisfied with the foods that you eat, but without all of the added sugar. Your sweet tooth can be satisfied and your belly full while you reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, etc.

To learn more about kicking the sugar habit and other nutritional tips, please feel free to call:
Breakthroughs in Relationships with Food,
Geri Segel at 508-734-0555

read more about Geri

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