As we near the kickoff to the holiday season, we wanted to know how concerned we should really be about the amount of sugar we’re consuming. You hear words like “toxic” and “addiction,” as well as “harmless” and “fun” when it comes to sugar and sugar consumption. So which is it?

The American Heart Association says women should get no more than 25 grams (6 tsp) of added sugar a day, and 36 grams (9 tsp) for men. However, according to SugarScience, a publication from the University of California at San Francisco, the average American gets 82 grams of sugar (19.5 tsp) every day.

We’re eating a lot of it. But when it comes to our health in midlife, is sugar really that bad for us?

To find out, we called up Dr. Anna Garrett, who talked to us before on getting your mojo back in midlife. Dr. Anna is a certified coach and Doctor of Pharmacy, and her mission in life is helping women get their hormones – and their lives! – back in balance.

Here’s what we learned:

1:17 Can you really get addicted to sugar?

“Sugar actually works on the same centers in the brain as cocaine and nicotine.” So, yeah. Addictive and dangerous. Find out the process of addiction in your brain.

2:23 Is giving up sugar a fad?

Fat used to be the demonized ingredient when it came to obesity and poor health. But did the Big Sugar lobby play fast and loose with the facts to make it appear like fat was the bad guy?

4:25 Does sugar affect hormonal health?

Sugar disrupts insulin, creating chaos with your hormones and possibly contributing to estrogen dominance. And that’s just not good.

5:42 What about heart health?

Sugar wreaks havoc here too, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Anna explains.

6:40 How the heck do I give up sugar?

Cutting out sugar is tricky. Dr. Anna gives her recommendations on going “cold turkey” versus “cutting back.” HINT: sugary drinks should probably be first to go.

7:37 Ok, fill me in on the drinks…?

Some drinks, like milk, have natural sugars. Avoid the ones with added sugars like agave or syrups. And bad news, y’all: wine is a problem.

8:40 Where does sugar hide in food?

Sugar is super sneaky, so even capable label readers may miss a few. Dr. Anna tells us what to be on the lookout for.

9:20 Artificial sweeteners: OK or no?

I’ll give you one guess. Yep. Not good. Dr. Anna tells us why artificial sweeteners may actually sabotage your good intentions. But there are ways to make it less bad for you ….

10:45 Withdrawal. What do we have to expect?

There are definitely withdrawal symptoms, just like with other addictions. Dr. Anna gives us the info on how we’ll feel, how long it’ll last, and how to manage it best.

11:58 How long does it take to break free?

If you’re truly serious, you can get to great in 7 – 10 days, says Dr. Anna. She tells us how to go about a sugar “detox” the best way.

13:10 What do you eat, if not sugar?

Dr. Anna gives us insight into her healthy diet. We’ve decided we want to be her when we grow up.

14:02 After the detox, can I bring some sweetness back?

Starchy veggies like beets or sweet potatoes and healthy carbs can be invited back, but for those folks for whom sugar is an “avalanche” food (ie, triggers binge eating), refined sugars should probably be eliminated entirely and permanently.

15:17 Halloween sugar-avoidance tips?

The holidays are coming and most of us are about to be awash in sugary treats. How do we handle it? Dr. Anna has some great ideas on how to be thoughtful about what we’re eating. Autopilot is only good for airplanes, folks; never for food.

17:36 How do you get your family on the bandwagon?

It’s tough to do this right: you don’t want to be the “anti-fun committee,” so explain why you’re doing what you’re doing, include the family in meal planning and prep, and start training taste buds early!

Are you ready to reduce your sugar intake? It can be a tough road, so consider getting help from a coach like Dr. Anna. We’d love to hear how it goes for you! Please share your successes and setbacks with us in the comments  or on genneve’s Facebook page or Midlife & Menopause Solutions, our closed Facebook group.



Shannon Perry

Shannon is a celebrated author and global educator. Whether she’s interviewing a physician or producing a podcast, her appetite for research, facts, and truth culminates in credible health education and programming that women can rely on. An avid runner, cyclist, and climber, Shannon knows a thing or two about thriving in midlife and lives in Seattle with her cat, dog and boyfriend.


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