By Anita Nall Richesson, Olympian & Nutritionist
I was a sugar addict! I grew up with a sweet tooth for cereals, candies, pies and pastries. You name it, if it was sweet, I loved it. I paid a high price for my sugar addiction in my early teenage years. While I can’t say it’s THE THING that took me out of professional sports, I can tell you for a fact that my sugar addiction contributed greatly to my athletic career’s demise and my decade struggle with health.
Sugar comes in many forms. There’s sucrose, glucose, fructose, evaporated cane juice, molasses, brown rice syrup and the list goes on and on. There’s even a slew of chemical sweeteners these days like Sucralose, NutraSweet and Saccharin that come with a whole host of other issues aside from sugar.
Getting off the sugar train was the best thing I ever did for my health AND I had no idea, until I went to school for nutrition, just how much sugar I was actually eating. You might be in the dark about your sugary ways too. I was on a mission to kick the habit when one of my teachers told us about the direct correlation between illness and sugar consumption. I will tell you it wasn’t easy and it was a process that took a little time and commitment.
However, after years of teaching nutrition and honing my craft, I can give you some tips to fast track the elimination of your sugar addiction. First , I want you to know why it’s important. According to the Journal of The American Heart Association, the average American consumes about 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, compared to just 2 teaspoons 100 years ago. Sugar addiction and overconsumption is implicated in Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, Alzheimer’s Disease, Hyperactivity & decreased learning as well as Immune System suppression. Sugar provides extra calories without any vital nutrients like vitamins, minerals or protein.
Just one teaspoon of sugar can impair the immune system for hours after consumption. One teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams on nutrition labels and looks like 1 cube of sugar. Some coffee and sports drinks carry 48 grams of sugar alone- yikes, that 12 teaspoons! In my work with clients over the last 10 years, I have created simple steps to lowering your sugar intake over time. Following these steps will be a huge step towards increasing health, energy, mood and recovery time for athletes.
1- Read food labels and understand everything you are putting in your body. Become a sugar investigator, know what words mean sugar and exactly how much is in your food.
2- Eat your calories, don’t drink them! We have become a sugary-drink-consuming society. Be aware of how much sugar is in your drinks and how fast it adds up.
3- Simples switches are the fixes! I rarely meet someone who can go cold turkey overnight. You will need to find simple switches for the things you love and crave that contain less sugar or a better form of sugar than the originals.
Here are a few Simple Switches you can start with today:
|Instead of this…||Eat this…|
|Traditional Jelly||Fruit Sweetened Jelly|
|Soda||Flavored Seltzer w/ Stevia Drops|
|Milk Chocolate||The Darkest Chocolate you can stand|
|Traditional Fruit Snacks||100% Fruit Leathers|
Making the simple switches will reduce your need for sugar over time. It will take some dedication and will power to resist the allure of sugars addictive ways but YOU CAN DO IT. The reward for reducing and/or eliminating sugar in your diet is high. I have seen and experienced health miracles like elimination of sinus infections, no more allergy medications, eczema and acne disappear and migraine headaches diminish for people who commit to this. I would love to hear about your sugar story at [email protected]
Anita Nall Richesson Biography
Olympian, Nutritionist, Life Coach & Wellness Expert
Setting the swimming world ablaze at the young age of fifteen with 2
world records in one day propelled Anita into the fast lane of success. After swimming for the cycle (gold, silver, and bronze) in the 1992 Olympic Summer Games in Barcelona, many health challenges hampered her attempts at returning to an Olympic level.
Challenged by a series of “mystery illnesses” that lasted a decade after the Olympics, Anita rediscovered health through food. Traditional medicine’s failed healing attempts drove her towards a personal quest for wellness and a passionate understanding of the healing power of food. Her profound experiences with illness, healing and professional athletics have given her a unique perspective she shares with clients.
After completing her undergraduate degree in Communications and Spanish from Arizona State University she pursued holistic nutrition education at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe, Arizona. Anita is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Specialist, Life Coach and accomplished motivational speaker. Anita is also an elite member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. She completed 3 NFL seasons as Nutrition Consultant for the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Football Team and works with various elite professional athletes including UFC fighters, boxers & world-class swimmers around the country. She writes nutrition & wellness articles for various groups and recently began an empowerment program for teenage female athletes that centers around motivation, nutrition & increased self-esteem. http://www.anitanall.com
Read the following articles to learn more about Anita: