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Sugar Addiction? Read Tips on Phasing It Out

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sugar addiction

Sugar addiction is a public health concern of epic proportions. The United States has the ignominy of having the highest average daily sugar consumption per person anywhere in the world. The average American consumes over 125 grams of sugar every day. This is more than 4 times the expert-recommended 30 grams of sugar per day, which is roughly 7 teaspoons. Just to give you some perspective, a single 20-oz bottle of Coke contains 65 grams or 16 teaspoons of sugar, which is twice the recommended daily intake.

Surveys have found that sugar and empty calories make up 40% of the average American’s daily caloric intake. A sugar addiction can lead to a host of health problems. Excessive sugar intake has been linked to a wide range of medical problems including diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, obesity and related illnesses, nutritional deficiencies, poor immunity, cognitive decline, and certain cancers.

The link between sugar addiction and poor oral health is well known. If you are struggling with a sugar addiction and want to do something about it, here are some tips on phasing out sugar from your life.

Tips on reducing sugar addiction

Weed out hidden sugars

Sugar goes by many names such as fructose, maltose, glucose, sucrose, and corn syrup. You may actually be consuming more sugar than you realize. Read food labels carefully and weed out hidden sugar from your diet.

Cut out sugary foods and drinks one at a time

Start by cutting out one sugary item at a time. A good starting point is sugary drinks like sodas. As mentioned above, they have a dangerously high sugar content.

Choose a healthy breakfast. Commercially available breakfast cereals are common culprits in feeding a sugar addiction. Some have more than 40% sugar content.

Cut out added sugar from beverages like coffee and tea. Plain tea or coffee is best, but if you want some sweetness without the risk of tooth decay, consider a natural sweetener like Stevia or xylitol.

Practice healthy snacking

When you have the urge to snack on something sweet, reach for something healthier like a handful of nuts. They are satisfying and satiating and will give you the energy boost you need without putting your oral health at risk.

When choosing snacks, remember that fat-free does not equal sugar-free. For example, many fat-free yogurts contain large amounts of sugar. Keep this in mind when you go food shopping.

Limit snacking to a couple of times a day, preferably around mealtimes. Constant grazing is harmful as it does not allow the mouth to return to a healthy neutral state. Midnight snacking is especially dangerous.

Reduce your sugar addiction gradually. Start with small steps like not eating sugar for 2-3 hours before bedtime or avoiding dessert a few times a week. These habits will slowly build up and beating your sugar addiction will get easier over time.

Watch those beverages when dealing with a sugar addiction

You’ve heard that fruits are healthy, and they are. So, you might think that drinking fruit juice is healthy, but the truth is that many bottled juices are high in sugar.

Also, when you make smoothies, smashing the fruit releases the sugars, which can then coat your teeth. It’s best to eat fresh whole fruits to get all the vital nutrients and fiber you need without harming your teeth or oral health.

When you’re at your favorite coffee shop, remember that a frappucino or latte may be delicious but is also a sugar bomb. Stick to an espresso or Americano without added sugar as much as possible.

Last but not least, alcoholic beverages can have a huge impact on your sugar addiction. Many drinks have a high sugar content, and there are other known links between alcohol and oral health. Drink in moderation and try to avoid sugary cocktails (a pina colada has 28 grams of added sugar and a daiquiri has almost 7 grams of added sugar). Hard spirits like gin, vodka, rum, and whiskey are your best bet if you are trying to control your sugar addiction.

Schedule regular dental checkups

Even as you work on reducing your sugar addiction, it’s important to stay up-to-date on your dental checkups. Going to the dentist twice a year can help with early diagnosis and treatment of common oral health problems like tooth decay and gum disease. If you’ve fallen behind on dental checks, call Express Dentist today. We have a trusted network of providers across the nation. We’ll be happy to put you in touch with an experienced and caring dentist in your community. Stay healthy and keep that sugar addiction in check.

About the author

Dr Greg Grillo
Dr. Greg Grillo

Dr. Greg Grillo DDS studied at the University of Washington where he received a bachelors degree with Honors and later attended dental school on the same campus. Following school Dr. Greg served in the United States Navy as a dental officer. During this time he received advanced training in specialty areas of dentistry while also treating families of members of the military.

As well as sharing valuable information on dentistry and oral health, Dr. Greg remains a practicing dentist to this day. He works with families in the Okanogan Valley where he lives with his wife and three children.

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