These days, sugar is tough to avoid. We don’t recommend cutting it from your life entirely — it’s hard to do, it can easily become obsessive, and it’s really not necessary. Plus, there are a lot of cases in which eating sugar is really good for you. Fruit, for example, is loaded with sugar. But it’s also filled with antioxidants, fiber, and other important nutrients. Why cut out the good stuff?
However, eating an overload of sugars and sweets can do a number on your health. You might find that your energy levels are fluctuating all over the place, or you feel like your skin just can’t stay calm. These signs, along with the other common symptoms on this list, are early indications that you might be overdoing it.
It can be easy to let the added sugars in your diet get out of hand. Sugar is everywhere; foods and drinks marketed as healthy are often infused with extra sugary additives to ramp up the flavor of other nutrient-dense foods. When you do eat sugar, you want to know that you’re eating it. It’s great to choose to eat a cookie and enjoy it, but when you’re chowing down on a bowl of spaghetti, you could be eating added sugars without even realizing it. Being aware of food labels is your first line of defense against an unconscious excess. But if you aren’t sure, here are 15 surprising signs you’re eating too much sugar.
The exact cause of the reaction is unclear, but many people have found a correlation between their sugar intake and the intensity of the dark circles under their eyes.
Sugar is a solute, meaning it soaks up more water from your body. This can cause a fluid imbalance and overall dehydration — that then shows up on your skin. Make sure you moisturize or try one of these food-based remedies, and monitor the amount of sugar you’re really eating during the day. It might be more than you realize!
There are different kinds of sugars — some sugars are natural and others are refined. It’s the refined ones that are worst for you in excess. Processed food manufacturers often use a lot of refined sugars to make their products taste unlike any natural, nutritious food and keep you coming back for more. All the excess bombards your taste buds until they develop a tolerance — and natural sugars seem less sweet by comparison.
Since it’s so energy-dense, sugar can really ramp up your energy systems. Sweets are one of those food groups you should try to limit after 5 p.m. — if you ever want to fall asleep. The jitters could keep you up way past your bedtime!
If you’re loading up on sugar and carbohydrates but neglecting to add protein and fats, you’re not going to feel too great. Your body needs protein and fats to keep itself going throughout the day; without them, you’re bound to feel sluggish and tired as your body hangs on to the only type of energy it has.
A common symptom of low blood sugar is having trouble concentrating and thinking clearly. You might think that eating too much sugar would help you avoid brain fog — but the constant spike and crash of your blood sugar levels puts your body through the wringer. You’ll likely feel out of it and spacey more often than you would had you avoided the excess sugars in the first place.
Sugar isn’t the only food that can send your blood pressure through the roof. But research suggests that frequent consumption of added sugars, such as those from soda and other sweetened beverages, can increase your blood pressure over time. Luckily, there are some eating habits to adopt that can keep your blood pressure down.
When you eat a lot of sugar, your hormones react immediately. You get a spike of insulin and serotonin, your happy hormone, followed by a huge crash of both. You feel sluggish and your mood plummets, causing you to crave more sugar and “emotionally eat” or just feel depressed and awful until your next meal.
Energy from sugar gets processed really quickly. The energy your body doesn’t use almost immediately, it stores away for later. Protein and fat are processed much more steadily, and without these sustainable energy sources, you’re going to run on empty when your sugar high is over. After your blood sugar takes a nosedive, so will your ability to stay awake — no one wants to be that guy falling asleep at meetings. Add some protein to your lunch, or pack a snack with healthy fats to keep you going.
Bloating is a natural thing — so don’t panic if it happens every now and then. But if you’re always feeling some sort of digestive trouble, something’s up. Sugar could be the culprit. It feeds the bad bacteria in your gut, meaning baked goods aren’t exactly easy for your stomach to digest. Give it a break every now and then!
Your gut has a surprising amount of influence over your immune system. When you’re sick, it’s absolutely crucial to feed your gut with nourishing foods and lots of water to help out the good bacteria. The bad bacteria thrive off of refined sugar — so if you’re eating lots of it, the bacteria could mess with your immune response.
Sugar is one of the most common acne-causing foods. It doesn’t happen to everyone, and everyone’s response to sugary foods is different. But one study linked refined sugar intake to an increase in the prevalence of acne. The reason why refined sugars show up on your skin is unclear, but researchers suspect it has to do with the insulin spike and crash that happens when you eat them.
It’s hard to deny this one — if even your dentist is telling you to lay off the candy, it could be time to cut back. Like a child’s after a wild Halloween, your mouth is struggling to keep up with all the bacteria-feeding refined sugar you’re eating every day. Consistent cavities are a clear sign your sugar intake has gone too far — or you just have really weak tooth enamel. But there are some foods you might be eating that dentists just won’t touch.
A cookie here and there won’t age you. But if you’re pounding chocolates all day long, you could do some damage to your skin’s proteins. As they break down, so does the taught look of your face, causing your skin to sag and wrinkle.
Sugar, like salt, causes feelings of dehydration. Due to the excess sugar floating around in your bloodstream, your body needs more water to balance out. This causes fluid retention — the effect that’s part of the reason you feel so large and bloaty after dessert.
Sugar isn’t the only food that can make you bloated — click here for a list of foods responsible for uncomfortable belly bloat.