Let's talk about sugar. We know it's not all that good for us (OK fine, in excess it's downright bad for us), but cutting back—like breaking up—is hard to do. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.
According to new research from the University of Michigan, sugar can be addictive in a similar way to drugs and alcohol. Previously, a 2008 study at Princeton University found that when a test group of rats' sugar supply was taken away, "the rats’ brain levels of dopamine dropped and, as a result, they exhibited anxiety as a sign of withdrawal. The rats’ teeth chattered, and the creatures were unwilling to venture forth into the open arm of their maze, preferring to stay in a tunnel area. Normally rats like to explore their environment, but the rats in sugar withdrawal were too anxious to explore."
For insight on how to tame our sweet tooth, we checked in with Dr. Jim LaValle, R.Ph., C.C.N., a clinical pharmacist, author and board-certified clinical nutritionist. One of his main tips? Be on the lookout for sneaky sources of sugar you might not expect.
“Cough syrups, chewing gum, tomato sauce, baked beans, soups, salad dressings and lunch meats often contain hidden sugar,” Dr. LaValle says. Some of the biggest culprits, he added, are fresh fruit smoothies, sports drinks and bars. For example, one serving (two tablespoons) of Briannas Blush Wine Vinaigrette contains 14 grams of sugar. A small Acai Super Antioxidant smoothie from Jamba Juice clocks in at 52 grams of sugar. Yes...a small.
So remember, just because you aren't munching on a Kit Kat bar doesn't mean you aren't getting more than your daily fill of the sweet stuff. Our recommendation? Stick to whole foods when you can, and be diligent about reading labels when you do eat processed foods.
Not today, faux-healthy protein bar.