Think about what you eat and drink in any given day. Do you march into the kitchen first thing to dig around for doughnuts? Then, once at work, do slurp down several sugary iced coffees? If that's just the start of your daily sugar intake, you're probably consuming too many sweets. And, you're probably also someone who should think about eating less sugar.
That is all of us, really. As Rachna Govanni, co-founder of the healthy eating app Foodstand says, "Most people are eating too much added sugar. The dietary guidelines recommend no more than 25 grams of added sugar. But most people consume double that just in liquid form [like sodas]."
While the occasional cookie or fizzy drink isn't a big deal, a constant intake of sugar is worth worrying about — as well as your addiction to the sugar rush. "People get a burst of energy and feel good momentarily, however, blood sugar levels rapidly decrease," says NYC-based eating disorder and addiction therapist Kimberly Hershenson, in an email to Bustle. "This sudden decrease of the blood sugar levels makes you feel sleepy, tired, and unable to think clearly." And it can having you reaching for more sugar, to start the vicious cycle over again.
As someone who's experimented with giving up sugar for long stretches of time, I can say with confidence that it's definitely worth a try. (Seriously, it's magical.) But if it's too difficult, I highly recommend trying to cut extra sugar from your diet (in the form of sodas, candies, and processed foods). I promise, you'll feel so much better. Read on for some of the benefits you can expect.
1. Your Breath Will Smell Better
If you've been struggling with bad breath, then get ready to be as fresh as can be. (And save a ton of money on gum.) As Dr. Steven Cook, a dentist in Austin, Texas, says, "Sugar provides a quick food source for bacteria, allowing them to reproduce quickly and therefore causing bad breath and plaque." If you cut out the sugar, you'll cut down on bacteria and their smell. Pretty cool, right?
2. Your Skin Will Be Less Oily
Since sugar can mess with your hormones, it makes sense that it can also mess with your skin. As Hershenson tells me, sugar goes directly to the bloodstream and impacts insulin, which in turn creates oily secretions. If you give up sugar, you can say goodbye to oil and hopefully zits as well. (Score.)
3. Your Moods Will Be All Sorts Of Stabilized
If you've been feeling all over the place as of late, it may be worth checking your sugar intake. Once you cut back, your mood will likely stabilize since you'll be off the "sugar rollercoaster," holistic health coach Sharla Mandere, CHHC, tells me. I've experienced this and can totally vouch that it's a real thing.
4. You'll Suddenly Be Bursting With Creativity
A sugary diet can cloud your thinking and affect your energy levels. (Again, because of the dreaded sugar rollercoaster.) Cutting it from your daily diet will mean steadier energy levels and more focus, and possibly even a boost in creativity, biohack coach Arvin Khamseh tells me. For all my creative types out there, I'd say it's definitely worth a try.
5. You'll Stop Daydreaming About Snacks
While there's nothing wrong with daydreaming about food, a super sugary diet can turn those daydreams into pesky 24/7 cravings. Cutting back can balance your hormones and make it easier to think about something else for a while. A less sugary diet can also help you recognize when you're truly full, registered dietician nutritionist Gabriella Vetere tells me. All good — and very freeing — things.
6. You'll Be Full Of Energy
When you're addicted to sugar, it can feel like you need it to go on. And yet, getting it out of your system can actually give you more energy. As Vetere says, "When refined sugar is removed from the diet, less sharp spikes in the blood sugar occur and [you'll be] more likely to have consistent energy levels." So worth it, right?
7. Your Gut Will Start To Heal
If you've been having a problem with bloating, or any other digestive issues, quitting sugar is a good first course of action. Once you do, the "good" bacteria in your gut can start to flourish. "When the gut is flourishing, you are able to digest and absorb nutrients in whole food more efficiently," says nutritionist and health expert Stella Metsovas. The difference is almost instantly noticeable.
8. You'll Feel So Much Calmer
If life has got you stressed, it's likely due to all sorts of outside factors. But stressing out your body with too much sugar certainly doesn't help. "Added sugars are linked to higher cortisol (stress hormone) production," says weight loss expert Dr. Caroline Apovian. Definitely not something you need to deal with.
9. You'll Sleep Like A Baby
Since sugar can affect your cortisol levels, Apovian tells me it can also lead to a restless night's sleep. Which makes sense, doesn't it? If your body is pumped full of the stress hormone, how can you expect to get any rest? Once you start a healthier diet, you should be able to pass out 'til morning.
10. You'll Feel Less Bloated
If you're struggling with bloating and discomfort, listen up. Cutting sugar from your diet can help, in a big way. As Frida Harju, a nutritionist for the Lifesum health app tells me, the rise and fall in blood sugar levels can cause inflammation in the body and trigger gas production. If you eliminate sugar, you'll notice a decrease in how gassy you are in no time.
11. You'll Be Less Inclined To Eat Emotionally
Everyone loves comfort food, and sometimes that means reaching for a doughnut. Nothin' wrong with that. But there is something to be said for giving up sugar in the name of ending emotional eating. "Sugar causes the 'feel good' neurotransmitter dopamine to be released and can be quite an addictive way to treat ... emotions," Vetere says. Leave it out of your diet, and find other coping mechanisms, and you should feel that desire to snack lessening.
Because, like it or not, sugar is a hell of a drug. It can affect you physically, emotionally, and mentally — and make your day way more difficult than it needs to be. While you shouldn't be afraid to eat sugar or feel like you have to avoid it for all eternity, it is a good idea to cut back or experiment with giving it up for awhile. I promise, you'll feel so much better.
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