Do you have a love-hate relationship with sugar? You aren’t the only one. As a whole, Americans eat way too much sugar — especially the processed kind. It’s not easy battling your sugar cravings and settling for a piece of fruit when you’d rather eat an entire cake. However, eating too much sugar has consequences — some even more unsettling than weight gain and heart disease. Ladies, beware — your hormones and excess sugar don’t mix well.
You probably eat more sugar than you think
Even though it seems like more and more people obsess over eating healthy, we’re eating more processed sugars than ever before. According to the Pew Research Center, Americans ate an average of 77 pounds of added sugar in 2014. While sugar consumption has technically declined in the last 50 years, we’re eating more corn-based, highly processed sweeteners, like high fructose corn syrup.
You might think you’re choosing healthier foods — but it’s very possible you aren’t.
How much should you eat?
You don’t have to — and technically can’t — quit sugar completely to avoid negative side effects. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming fewer than 50 grams of sugar per day, or less than 10% of your daily total calories.
For context, Medical News Today says an apple contains 13 grams of sugar. Three ounces of a sweet potato provide about 4 grams, says Fitday. And your go-to bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios has 9 grams per ¾ cup serving — and you probably have way more than that per bowl (plus milk).
Weird things sugar can do to you
Your sugar habit could be killing you without you even knowing it. From mild symptoms like cavities to silent killers like heart disease, too much sugar is a terrible habit to keep.
- Dry out your skin
- Make you depressed
- Raise your blood pressure
- Ruin your teeth
- Destroy your liver and kidneys
The side effect: Sugar overload can cause women to grow facial hair
To be clear, eating sugary foods won’t immediately result in noticeable stubble — thankfully, sugar doesn’t work like that. According to Women’s Health Network, though, eating too much sugar can increase testosterone production in women and lead to a hormonal imbalance. Imbalanced hormones can produce plenty of unwanted results, which is why paying attention to your diet is so important. Excess sugar leads to blood sugar spikes, which basically throws off your whole endocrine system if you make it a habit.
Not all carbs will wreck your face — just the synthetic ones
Not all sugar is out to get you. Health.com says carbohydrates also take the form of dietary fiber, which is essential for healthy digestion and even important for weight loss. Slow-digesting carbs don’t cause blood sugar spikes, which is what sends your insulin production into overdrive and messes up your hormones (and your beautiful face).
Too many carbs can still hurt you, but as long as you choose those low in sugar and high in fiber, you’re much less likely to suffer.
The sugary foods that will destroy your body
Beware of fruit juices, breakfast cereals, and many “healthy” desserts like frozen yogurt, which can all provide more sugar than a can of soda. Ultra-processed foods like these are to blame for the majority of our sugar consumption.
While most foods go through some processing between the farm and your fork, many foods have sugars added to them to extend their shelf life or enhance their flavor. You don’t have to give up all junk food forever, but consider limiting how much you eat every day.
Healthy foods low in sugar
You can say you’re going to stop eating doughnuts for breakfast and seriously commit, but if you don’t replace those doughnuts with something healthy, your efforts will backfire. When you stop eating so much sugar, it’s important to add healthy carbs in its place.
Ditch the sweets and try a whole-grain bagel with Greek yogurt for breakfast. Instead of sugary breakfast cereal, make yourself a bowl of healthy oatmeal — and add in some fruit. Fruits, vegetables, and some whole grains are all healthy sources of carbs and won’t completely ruin your life the way doughnuts and orange juice will. And eating high-fiber foods will crush your sugar cravings before they can ruin your life.