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7 Ways to Fight Your Sugar Addiction

For those of us with a sweet tooth – which appears to be most of the country – the newest research carries some bitter news: Americans eat way too much sugar, and it’s killing us.

In one of the biggest studies to examine the issue, researchers from the government and two universities found a link between high sugar consumption and fatal heart disease. The study was published February 3 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The culprit, they believe, is all the sugar added to a wide range of beverages and foods – soda and desserts, obviously, but also less obvious foods such as packaged bread, pasta sauce and salad dressing.

7 Ways to Fight Sugar Addiction

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And it’s not just because sugar makes us fat. In the study, even normal-weight adults had a higher risk for death if they ate a lot of sugar. And it didn’t take much – even two sodas a day substantially increased the risk. For those who ate the most sugar, their risk of dying prematurely from heart disease tripled over those who ate the least.

“Too much sugar does not just make us fat; it can also make us sick,” Laura Schmidt, a health-policy specialist at the University of California, San Francisco told the Associated Press. In an editorial accompanying the study, she said there has been a major shift in how scientists view the role of a high-sugar diet in a number of diseases, not just obesity.

According to the study, Americans have cut back a little on our sugary ways. A decade ago sugar made up 17 percent of our daily calories; between 2005 and 2010, that dropped to 15 percent. The American Heart Association says we should aim for 10 percent, or about 100 calories a day from sugar for women, 150 for men.

Still, it’s tough fighting that craving for something sweet, says Washington, D.C., dietitian Katherine Tallmadge, author of Diet Simple.

“Sweets light up the pleasure centers of our brain, similar to addictive substances,” Tallmadge said in an email. “The more sweets you eat, the more you crave.”

Although some people go cold turkey or try the detox route to reduce their urge for sweets, you can slowly but steadily reduce the amount of sugar you eat each day to help retrain your brain.

To tame your sugar craving, Tallmadge offers these tips:



Photo: Richard Drury/Getty Images

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