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Food and Thought Newsletter - February 2024

The Skinny on Sugar; the good, the bad and the case for moderation! 

Many people celebrate connection, friendship and love relationships with Valentine’s Day sweets. In moderation this is fine for most people. But did you know that too much added sugar (sugar that is not naturally occurring in foods), can lead to low mood, brain fog and even depression? This month’s Food and Thought Newsletter is dedicated to exploring the healthy (and less-healthy) sources of sugar and their impact on emotional health, as well as giving you some practical tips to decrease the amount of added sugar in your diet.

Do We Need Sugar to Survive? Yes, But…. What Type and How Much We Eat Matters…. A Lot!

Sugar is a form of carbohydrate, which the body needs for its preferred source of fuel. The body breaks down all carbohydrates into glucose, which enters the bloodstream and acts as a source of energy. Some sugars, such as glucose, fructose, and lactose, occur naturally in foods and drinks, while others do not. Added sugars refer to any sugars in foods that are NOT naturally occurring, such as sugar in baked goods. According to the American Hearth Association, the body does not need any form of added sugar to function healthily. Eating too much sugar can have an impact on your mental
health and cause issues in your daily life including sugar addiction, inflammation and depression.

How Much Is Too Much?

The American Heart Association recommends a maximum daily added sugar intakes of no more than 10% of calorie intake (less than 36g or 9 teaspoons for males and less than 25g, or 6 teaspoons, for females). Children aged 2–18 years should have less than 25g a day. Studies show, however, that adults are consuming roughly 77 g of added sugar each day, which is more than three times the recommended daily intake for females. Meanwhile, children are consuming close to 81 g each day.

Tips For Cutting Back on Sugar:

1. When thirsty, replace sugary drinks like sodas with water.
2. Reduce the amount of sugar you add to foods like pancakes,
cereal, tea, and coffee. Start by cutting the amount
of sugar by half and gradually reduce it from there.
3. Use fresh or dried fruit in cereal instead of sugar.
4. Reduce the amount of non-nutritive sweeteners.
(Sweet’N Low, Splenda, Equal.)
5. Eat foods that contain natural sweeteners like fruit. If
canned, purchase fruit in water or natural fruit juices and
not syrup.
6. Read nutrition labels and avoid foods with high sugar

The Food and Thought Program works to promote awareness and
provide short term counselling around the important link between.
nutrition and emotional health. For more information or for a referral
to the program, please contact the Food and Thought Program
at 781-599-0110.

This work is supported by the Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospital Community Benefits Community Grant Program and the Essex
County Community Foundation Behavioral Health Partnership Grant.

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