Is Sugar Addicting?

I recently posted 20 low sugar snacks that I got from iVillage.

I got another email this week with an article about sugar and if it’s addicting.  I know there are others out there that have the same concerns as I do.  These posts aren’t something that I’ve cooked, but they are ideas that give me and hopefully you things to think about when finding recipes or just shopping for food.

I’ve copied all pictures and statements from iVillage’s website.  None of these are my ideas.  May give me ideas on what to make next or not ; )

limit your daily intake of added sugars


There’s naturally occurring sugar — fructose in fruit and lactose in milk — and there are added sugars that areput into food and drinks during processing. According to the American Heart Association, women should have no more than 6 teaspoons per day of added sugar, which is 24 grams. Most of us get more than 22 teaspoons per day. “It’s not that sugar has to be avoided completely,” says Marisa Moore, a registered dietician based in Atlanta and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “You just need to be mindful that it’s added to many foods and beverages, and excess sugar can lead to weight gain.”



learn to spot the sugar on an ingredients list


Sugar goes by many different names. You may see it listed as brown sugar, turbinado sugar, raw sugar, evaporated cane juice, molasses, honey, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, agave nectar or barley malt syrup. You’ll also find sugars that end in “-ose” such as maltose or sucrose. Some foods may have more than one type of sugar listed. “They all impact blood glucose levels the same. The goal is to reduce all added sugar sources,” says Moore.




look beyond the nutrition label


In order to understand how much added sugar is in a food, you have to read the nutrition facts panel as well as the ingredients list. “The nutrition facts panel tells you how many total grams of sugar are in the food, but it doesn’t distinguish what’s a natural sugar versus what’s an added sugar,” says Constance Brown-Riggs, a registered dietician based in Massapequa, New York and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In addition, the higher up in the ingredients list, the more of that ingredient is contained in the food. A basic rule to limit the amount of added sugars: Look for foods that list sugars fifth or later in the ingredients.


get to know your food


Not all sugar is bad. “You have to become familiar with what’s natural sugar and what’s added,” says Moore. For example, fruit or 100 percent fruit juice is all sugar, but it’s naturally occurring. Dairy products such as skim milk list 12 grams of sugar but it’s naturally-occurring lactose. On the other hand, a can of soda may contain up to 35 grams of sugar and no nutrients.



watch for hidden sugar


You know sugar is in cakes, cookies, pies and candy. But added sugar also appears in foods where you might not expect it such as breads, tomato and barbecue sauces, salad dressings, marinades, nut butters, condiments such as ketchup, and canned fruit. It’s hiding in “healthy” foods, too. “Even whole-grain cereals may contain a lot of added sugar,” says Moore. Trail mix may seem healthy, but you’ve got to avoid those that contain candy pieces. Apple sauce may seem like a sensible snack, but you have to choose those that say “unsweetened” or “no added sugar.” Yogurt contains natural sugars, but it may also be loaded down with extra sugar if it’s a flavored variety.


be wary of beverages


Bottled lemonade, iced tea, iced coffee, protein, energy and some sports drinks typically contain enough added sugar to put you well over the recommended daily intake. “Some beverages may have 40 to 50 grams of sugar per serving,” says Moore. “That means you have to treat them as a dessert and splurge occasionally. They shouldn’t be a part of your daily diet.” If you’re looking for refreshment, get a plain iced tea or iced coffee and add a teaspoon of sugar, which is far less than bottled beverages contain. If you like the carbonation in a soft drink, try flavored sparkling water or plain seltzer with a drizzle of juice.



compare brands

When it comes to foods in cans, bottles, boxes, and bags, compare labels to find the brands with lower amounts of added sugar, says Brown-Riggs. Buy cereal with the least amount of sugar. Choose canned fruits without added sugar or heavy syrup. Look for low-sugar, no-sugar or all-fruit varieties of jams and jellies. For salad dressing, make a vinaigrette from pungent vinegars such as balsamic and citrus-flavored oils. At your next party, mix your favorite liquor with pureed fresh fruit instead of store-bought mixers. And be careful about fat-free and “light” foods — manufacturers often add sugar to compensate for the loss of flavor from fat.

add your own sweetness

If you crave sweetness, mix it in yourself. “You’ll add far less sugar than the manufacturer,” says Moore. For example, instead of buying prepackaged instant oatmeal, which may contain up to 13 grams of sugar, buy the plain variety. Add your own mix-ins such as dried cranberries or blueberries, mashed bananas, a drizzle of maple syrup or a pinch of brown sugar. If you add aromatic spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, you may not miss the sugar at all. You can also try alternative non-caloric sweeteners such as stevia or sucralose (Splenda).

monitor portions

Like everything else when it comes to nutrition, stick with a sensible portion, says Brown-Riggs. Use a small glass if you’re drinking juice or absolutely have to have a little soda. If sweets are your weakness, deprivation never works, so have a few bites of a small dessert, share with a friend or opt for natural sugars from frozen grapes or fresh pineapple. You can also reduce the amount of sugar in home-baked goods if you substitute unsweetened applesauce or pureed prunes for part of the sugar (you may have to experiment, but try reducing sugar by about 1/3 for starters).

give your taste buds time to adapt

You’re used to sugar in everything from cereal to pasta sauces, but you can learn to eat less sugar in time. Cut back gradually. For example, says Brown-Riggs, “if you typically use three teaspoons of sugar in your coffee, cut down to two, then one over a month’s time”. If you’re a regular soda drinker, reduce the number by one per week. In a matter of weeks you probably won’t even miss the sugar overload.

are you a sugar addict?


Can’t get enough sweet stuff? You could be addicted to sugar, says Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., author of the book Beat Sugar Addiction NOW! But realizing you’re hooked doesn’t mean you have to give sugar up.  Instead, Dr. Teitelbaum says, “You have to figure out what’s causing your sugar cravings, then treat that underlying cause. Not only will your sugar cravings go away, but you’ll feel dramatically better overall.” To find out where you stand, take the following quizzes (adapted from Beat Sugar Addiction NOW!) to see if you’re addicted to sugar and pinpoint your sugar addict type (from Quick-Fix Sugar Fanatic and Sweet Tooth Soother to Sugar Self Medicator and Hormonal Sugar Hunter). Then, learn the life-changing tips you need to feel better fast.



true or false?

My favorite jeans have gotten too tight over the past year.

true or false?

I’m generally not cranky, but when I am about to get my period I get the blues or feel really anxious.

true or false?

I find it very hard to say no to sweets that are offered to me.

true or false?

My go-to mood booster is usually ice cream, cookies, or something else I know I probably shouldn’t be eating.

true or false?

I try to slim down — but the scale won’t budge.

true or false?

I eat sweets or simple carbs (like bagels or white bread) at least three times a day.

true or false?

If I wait more than a few hours to eat, I get shaky and start to feel woozy.

how did you do? if you tallied up less than two “true” answers:

Congrats! While you like sweets as much as the next person, you munch sugar-filled foods in healthy moderation. Keep eating lots of good-for-you fare like produce and lean meat, limit yourself to one sweet a day and you’ll avoid the sluggishness, irritability and weight woes that can accompany sugar addiction, says Dr. Teitelbaum.

if you scored three or more “true” answers:

Daily cravings, snacking on sweet treats at all hours of the day, eating meals that are made of processed foods loaded with excess sugar: These are all signs that you’re a sugar addict, says Dr. Teitelbaum. But don’t worry, you can kick your sweet tooth so you have more energy, a better disposition and an easier time slimming down! Keep clicking to find out what’s causing your sugar addiction and learn super-simple ways to get your appetite and health back on track.

I’m not sure if I’m a sugar addict or not.  I love my jawbreakers, I love to have candy.  I love to make the sweet treats, but I can leave those out if needed.  My downfall is the candy.  And so when I’m at the store I get mad at them for putting those dang candy bars right in my sight where I have to stay strong so that I don’t put on in my cart.  Some times I do.  Most times I don’t.  We have a saying at work: Stay Strong or Indulge Completely.  I do indulge on some days.  And I believe that we all should.  (Now if you’re specifically told not to eat sugar, then please don’t use that statement as you should do so).  I am not on a major strict diet.  I do watch what I eat so that I can stay healthy and to be a good example for the kids.

There is a little quiz on the iVillage site after this portion to see what type of sugar addict you are.  If you interested in reading the full article, you can find it here:


I hope these little posts I’ve been putting up have helped at least someone to think about what you’re putting in your body and to help you think before shopping and buying.

Patricia – Two Girls Cooking