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#sugar addiction

Do I need to limit the amount of sugar I eat?

It’s National Nutrition Month and our TMC registered dietitians love the Savor the Flavor theme! Throughout the month Laurie and Mary are sharing tips to help you make healthier, tastier choices.

Yes, you do. And the less you eat the better. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you eat to 25 grams (or about 6 teaspoons) per day, if you are a woman. For men, the limit is 37 grams (or about 9 teaspoons).

Realize that we are talking about added sugars – any sweeteners not naturally present in food. They go by many names, such as sucrose, corn syrup, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, honey, agave, brown sugar, raw sugar. These are just a few of sugar’s aliases. You may see many more names on food ingredient labels or on the package of stuff you add to coffee, tea, baked goods and anywhere else you want to add a little sweetness.

limit sugarThe problem with added sugars is their lack of nutrition. They are just empty calories, sneaking into your food to tempt your taste buds and then damage your teeth and help you put on extra fat pounds. Over time that sugar and extra body fat can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Naturally occurring sugars, on the other hand, are a normal part of fruit, dairy and other unprocessed foods. These sugars are accompanied by essential nutrients, such as vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Think of these as calories with a purpose.

Does this mean you need to completely eliminate added sugars from your diet? No, because most of us want a touch of sweetness now and then. However, you should be aware of when, where and how much added sugar you are eating. Read those ingredient labels! Added sugar doesn’t only appear in sodas, candy and desserts. It’s also present in things we normally think of as healthy (or healthy-ish) foods – flavored yogurt, soy milk, almond milk, smoothies, cereals, peanut butter, salsa and other sauces. Once you learn to spot added sugars, avoid them whenever you can.

Check out these blogs for practical tips on reducing your sugar intake.

Bust that sugar habit in 4 easy steps

Stop the sugar addiction

Are you struggling to make these changes? Or not seeing the desired impact? Make an appointment today to connect with our register dietitians and they will analyze and make a scientifically based plan specifically for you and your special needs. 


Stop the sugar addiction – Mary’s Promise

stop sugar craving addiction

Mary Kmak has turned her life around and found a path to health through the Tucson Medical Center Wellness program. In Mary’s Promise she shares tips, recipes, challenges that she has learned along the way.

Hello Readers,

How many times have you opened a box of chocolates and say to yourself “I’m ONLY going to have one piece.”? Then, after that first taste you have three or four more pieces until eventually the whole box is gone?  There may be a reason for that. Scientists say studies suggest that your sugar craving could be an addiction.

Addiction is a strong word, but the amount of sugar we ingest should not be taken lightly. Sugar has the power to tempt us again and again and rob us of our health. In fact, some researchers believe sugar addiction is a harder habit to break than cocaine.

For many of us sugar has always been thought of as a ‘treat’, but what kind of ‘treat’ causes the following withdrawal symptoms: headaches, restlessness, irritability, and more. That’s addiction!

I believe sugar was addicting to me. Looking back now once I started tasting any sugar whether it be candy, ice cream, cake, cookies, etc I would continue eating it until it was all gone.

When I first started my weight loss journey my thought process was not to bring any sugar home where I would be tempted. I honestly knew I would never be able to eat only one piece. Now, after losing 106 pounds, if I should have a craving I will buy one piece not one box or bag and be completely satisfied and enjoy that one piece. I worked too hard to get to this point to sabotage myself.

Sugar is not worth the calories or health risks and will NOT stand in my way to goal weight! So, from someone who “used” to love sugar more than real food itself take the following from me because I ‘been there and done that’.

How to overcome that sugar addiction

We evolved to crave sweets, because they are a source of quick energy. However, since sugar is no longer a rare treat, it’s everywhere and in everything now we have become accustomed to greater and greater amounts of it which means we need more and more to be satisfied.

If you eat a healthy diet your brain and muscles will be fueled and you will begin to lose the craving for sugar. Or at least crave it as often. I learned this about 3 months into my weight loss journey that when I ate approximately the same times with nutritious meals and snacks my sugar cravings stopped. At first, when I had them I would eat a piece of fresh fruit. That helped a lot.

Here are nine tips for beating the sugar addiction:

  1. Wait the craving out!

    Wait for 20 minutes. Food cravings are typically short-lived, and the desire for something sweet will wane, especially if you can find a healthier food substitute or distract yourself.

  2. Take a walk, do some stretches, read a book or call a friend.

    While you’re waiting the craving out, distract yourself. You may find that what you’re actually craving is physical activity, companionship or mental stimulation.

  3. Find alternatives for cravings.

    Want something sweet? Bake an apple without adding the sugar on top, a few raisins will do. See Mary’s Baked Apple suggestion here.

  4. Drink a glass of water.

    Often we misinterpret the signals our bodies are sending us confusing hunger and thirst.

  5. Schedule your meals.

    Plan for nutritious snacks (a homemade trail mix, or even a few apple slices with no-sugar added peanut butter) that can ward off hunger between meals. Keep portable, healthy snacks in your desk, backpack or car.

  6. Buy single servings of foods you crave.

    And support local while you’re at it, go to a local baker and buy a single serving.

  7. Keep a journal.

    Note the time of day your craving appeared, how long it lasted, the food you craved, and how you handled the situation. If you notice a pattern you can find ways to change things up.

  8. Don’t follow a very restrictive diet.

    Your cravings will likely become more intense and indulgence, overeating and guilt become a cycle.

  9. Is chocolate your nemesis? Try dark chocolate instead

    Do you find yourself digging through the Halloween/ Valentine candy in search of the cheap chocolaty stuff? Or making late night runs to the corner store for cheap chocolate. Try some dark chocolate instead. When purchasing dark chocolate, read the label to make sure that cacao is the first ingredient on the list rather than sugar. Once home portion off the bar into bite sizes to be enjoyed now and again. Dark chocolate contains phytochemicals that may aid in the prevention of heart disease. But enjoy it in moderation. Calories do add up.

If this Lent you’re attempting to reduce your reliance on sugar try these simple ideas to bring the cravings to an end! Do you have another tip? I’d love to hear it in the comments.

Blessings fellow health warriors,
Mary Kmak
Health Warrior

Check out this post from The Nutritionista Laurie Ledford for more support.