Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sweets for the Sweet! (With a Little Moderation...)

That notorious candy celebrating holiday is right around the corner! Most of us have some kind of weak spot  for a sugary sweet treat, and we have been warned for years that too much candy will rot our teeth out. So, just how bad for us is sugar? Do we have to avoid it entirely? (Is that even possible?!?)

Research has suggested that possibly our craving for sweets (and fats) goes back through our evolutionary history to times when food was more difficult to come by, and when more calories were needed just for survival. Our bodies began to seek out the foods that provided the most calories, and some researchers theorize that even though we no longer need this survival response, it is still there in our bodies and we still crave sweetness. However, WebMD suggests that while your friend may insist that she cannot go without her 3:00 p.m. candy bar treat, it is still unclear whether sugar is actually addictive. Since in healthy individuals no physical withdrawal symptoms are experienced when sugar intake is halted, it is more likely that sugar is more of a habit or psychologically motivated dependence (

While excessive sugar consumption may not be a true addiction or actually cause particular diseases, it can lead to obesity in both children and adults. Childhood obesity in particular is becoming a serious concern in the United States. Complications of obesity can include heart disease, diabetes, breathing problems, joint problems, and liver and gallbladder disease, as well as psychological and social problems. Additionally, individuals who are obese as children are more likely to be obese adults, and their level of obesity in adulthood could be more severe (

Because of the variety of different serious health conditions that can be caused by obesity, the problem has gained a lot of attention in the United States. Some of the focus has been on soda and candy machines in schools, but in reality much of the food we consume on a daily basis has added processed sugars of which we aren't even aware. Because much of this sugar is hidden in foods that we wouldn't normally associate with being sweet, it is easy to consume substantially more sugar than we are aware of eating. A report in 2009 determined that Americans consume an average of 355 calories a day in sugar - over 20 teaspoons! This is much higher than the recommended amounts for average-sized women (6.25 teaspoons) and men (9.4 teaspoons) (

To protect our health, we all should consider watching our sugar intake more closely on a daily basis. If we practice healthy eating habits with sweets throughout the year, then we can feel a little better about indulging and enjoying ourselves (within reason!) on fun holidays like Halloween! Do you have any tips or tricks for beating sugar cravings that you would like to share? We would love for you leave a comment with your ideas!

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