There won't be a new you in the new year without cutting sugar from your diet.
Cutting out sugar is no easy feat because sugar is everywhere. Of all the packaged foods in the grocery store, 74% of them are spiked with added sugar. This includes salad dressing, tomato sauce, hamburger buns and meat, yogurt, and orange juice.
Not only is it everywhere, but sugar is also addictive. Some studies have shown that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. "You get this intense release of dopamine upon acute ingestion of sugar. After you chronically consume it, those dopamine receptors start becoming down-regulated — there's less of them, and they're less responsive," said James DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist at St. Luke's Mid-America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. Addiction keeps consumers coming back. Consistent consumers means consistent profit for the producers, so why wouldn't the producers add sugar to their products?
In addition to being addictive, sugar also affects everything that goes on inside a body. "Your liver metabolizes sugar the same way as alcohol, and converts dietary carbohydrates to fat," says Dr. Hu, a nutrition and diabetes researcher and Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "Over time, this can lead to a greater accumulation of fat, which may turn into fatty liver disease, a contributor to diabetes, which raises your risk for heart disease."
Sugar is extremely addictive and poor for health, yet Americans consume 66 pounds of sugar per year, on average. The sugar industry has known about health effects all along and has a history of sophisticated strategies to retain consumers that include secretly funded studies and attractive advertisements, such as the ones from the 1970s and 1960s below.
Cutting out sugar is not easy, but it is possible. You can do it through self-education about sugar and through self-discipline when sugar cravings appear. Remember that sugar is in more than just cookies and ice cream. A good way to choose food products in the grocery store is to avoid the centers of grocery stores, as those include the most processed food items. After some hard work, your energy levels, waistlines, and overall health will thank you. Good luck!