Here's the thing about sugar. Did you know that it helps to fuel your brain and red blood cells? That reason alone is why, automatically coming to the ultimate conclusion that sugar is the devil, is not a totally accurate one. According to many health experts, we need somewhere around 6 teaspoons of sugar a day while men require about 9. Problem is, an average cup of juice can give you all of the sugar you need for the day and let's be honest—many of us are well over tripling that amount, just with our breakfast alone. In fact, I actually read that most of us consume somewhere around 20 teaspoons of sugar on a daily basis. This is why, many health experts believe, that sugar addiction is at an all-time high; that it's an epidemic.
Thing is, because sugar is so much a part of our lives (remember carbs turns into sugar once we digest 'em), how can you know if you're someone who simply has a "taste" for sugar or you're someone who is a full-on addict? That is actually what we're gonna touch on today—some pretty telling signs that you've low-key got a sugar addiction, quite possibly without even noticing it.
1.You Have Constant Cravings
One sign that sugar addiction may be a very real issue in your life is, that you never seem to be able to get enough of it. I mean, no matter how much candy, juice, and carbs (more on that in a sec), you consume, you can always take in more. The reason why this happens is that, when you binge on sugar, that actually causes your blood sugar levels to tank because the insulin in your body will push the sugar into your cells in order to prevent sugar-related damage. And when your sugar levels are low, you end up wanting to eat more of it as a direct result. Kinda crazy, isn't it?
2.You Can Never Get Enough Carbs
Carbs are a vital energy source; there's no doubt about that. But when you eat them, your digestive system actually converts that food into glucose, which is sugar. Unfortunately, because carbs typically don't have enough fiber or protein in them, your body is unable to slow down how quickly carbs are able to turn into sugar, and, without protein and fibrous foods, you can find yourself craving carbs all the time (which basically means you're craving sugar all of the time). By the way, foods that are high in carbs that work against you include cereal, desserts, canned fruits, chips, bread, and fast food. High-carb foods that are actually good for you include quinoa, oats, bananas, sweet potatoes, blueberries, and apples.
3.Your Energy Levels (and Moods) Are a Roller Coaster Ride
While caffeine is sho 'nuf a stimulant (a drug, in fact, because it is something that stimulates your nervous system), I once read that sugar is a "false energizer" because, right after it gives you a surge of energy, it can cause you to lose it just as fast. Not only that but because sugar can also have your blood sugar levels all over the place, it can give you some pretty nasty mood swings as well. So, if "roller coaster" would be a good word to describe how you feel most of the time, that's another indication that you just might have a sugar addiction.
4.Whenever You Don’t Eat “It”, You Feel It
Whenever someone tells me that they don't have a caffeine addiction but then turn right around and says that the reason why they need 2-3 cups of coffee in the morning is that they will have a killer headache if they don't, I'm often like, "Umm…yeah. That means you've got an addiction going on." The same thing applies to sugar. If when you try and go a few days without it, you notice that you're feeling extremely drained, nauseated, you've got muscle discomfort, headaches, or even that you can't sleep much or well—all of this points to your body going through mild withdrawal symptoms.
This is why, if you are trying to consume less sugar, it's best to wean off of it slowly. It's also a good idea to keep in mind that the withdrawal symptoms usually don't kick in until 24-48 hours after you step away from sugar (some people say they actually do feel anything until they're two weeks in) and typically last between 2-14 days.
5.You’re Bloated Often
It's pretty common for us to get a little bloated, right around our period. That's because, when our progesterone and estrogen levels shift, leading into our menstrual flow, our body's cells start to retain both salt and water. Well, did you know that something else that can trigger bloating, pretty much right after you eat, is sugar? That's because sugar has a way of disturbing the balance of our digestive tract once it ferments into our system. As a result, sugar is able to feed the bacteria in our digestive system which can cause bloating (and eventually yeast infections too).
Plus, 80 percent of our immune system is in our gut, so that's just one more reason to limit your sugar intake.
6.When You Miss a Meal, It’s a BIG Deal
While it's definitely a good idea to eat three square meals a day (because it can help to give you the energy that you need while preventing you from overeating or binge-eating unhealthy foods), our bodies are actually designed to be able to go hours without feeling like we're gonna die (or kill someone) if we don't eat something. Problem is, when you're a sugar addict, you feel like you need to be eating something all the time; especially salty foods which is a heads up that your body isn't receiving all of the nutrients that it needs.
Again, you need to eat a good breakfast, lunch and dinner. But if you happen to miss one of those meals and it's got you literally climbing the walls, well—you already know what I'm about to say. Right?
7.You’re Suddenly Packing on Body Fat
Here's something that you may or may not know. Were you aware of the fact that your body stores up energy in its fatty tissue? And here's the thing—since it takes fatty tissue a significant amount of time to break down into energy, that's why eating sugary foods creates bulges where you may not want them to be (this is also why it's so much easier to put on weight than it is to lose it). Not only that, but sugar also gets stored into your muscles in the form of glucose too. Until your body feels like you need to use that stored up energy, it will keep it in the form of fat—whether you like it or not.
One more. Some of you might remember when a huge news story broke that sitting all day, for months at a time, had become "the new smoking" when it comes to what it does to our health. The reason why is because a sedentary lifestyle affects our posture, blood circulation, and breathing—and all of that can result in major health issues up the pike. Well, to that, if you haven't been moving about (or exercising before or after work), you know that you've been consistently getting no less than six hours a night, and still, no matter what, you feel worn out 90 percent of the time, this could also be a sign that you're a sugar addict.
When your system is reliant on large amounts of sugar in order to give you the energy that you need, if you're not consuming it, your energy levels drop which makes you want to go to sleep.
So, what if you happen to see yourself in any of the signs of sugar addiction that I just shared? First, as I briefly already mentioned, going cold turkey isn't smart. Since you've still got to earn a living—and going through sugar withdrawals can make you moody as hell—it really is best to ease off a little bit at a time.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Don't put extra sugar into or onto your food.
- Have only 1-2 glasses of un-water drinks a day (the rest of the time, drink water only).
- Go totally without fast food.
- If candy is your thing, get some dark chocolate that is made up of at least 65 percent cocoa.
- When you crave sweets, opt for protein instead (it will help to curb the desire). Some good protein snacks include peanut butter, coconut, unsweetened Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, tuna, pumpkin seeds, and almonds.
- Read food labels before making a purchase (because remember, you need less than 25 grams a day).
- Have a slice/piece of something sweet rather than several.
Having a sugar addiction is nothing to be ashamed of. However, the reason why it's so important to take this seriously is that too much sugar increases your chances of having heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, experiencing breakouts, becoming depressed, and, of course, gaining weight.
A little sugar is cool. Just make sure not to overdo it, OK? Being addicted to anything is problematic, so choose your foods (and drinks) wisely.
Featured image by Shutterstock
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports