Sugar is delicious. Anyone who denies that is lying. But because life is
unfair, sugar, especially in copious amounts, is really bad for your
health. In fact, once you learn about all the ways sugar impacts your
body, it’s difficult to look at it the same way (despite knowing how
heavenly it tastes).
So how do you know if you’re eating too much? Here are eight red flags
your body is sending you that it’s time to cut back on the sweet stuff.
1. You constantly crave sugary things.
The more sugar you eat, the more you’ll crave it. “More cravings than
equal consuming more sugar—it becomes a vicious and addictive cycle,”
Brooke Alpert, M.S., R.D., author of The Sugar Detox: Lose Weight, Feel
Great and Look Years Younger, tells SELF. This isn’t just because your
taste buds have adapted and left you needing more and more to get that
same taste, but also because of how sugar gives you a high followed by a
crash, just like an actual drug. “By eating a high sugar diet, you
cause a hormonal response in your body that’s like a wave, it brings you
up and then you crash down and it triggers your body to want more
2. You feel sluggish throughout the day.
What goes up must come down. After sugar causes an initial spike of
insulin and that “high” feeling, it causes an inevitable crash. “Energy
is most stable when blood sugar is stable, so when you’re consuming too
much sugar, the highs and lows of your blood sugar lead to highs and
lows of energy,” Alpert says. Eating a lot of sugar also means it’s
likely you’re not eating enough protein and fiber, both important
nutrients for sustained energy.
3. Your skin won’t stop breaking out.
“Some people are sensitive to getting a spike in insulin from sugar
intake, which can set off a hormonal cascade that can lead to a breakout
like acne or rosacea,” Rebecca Kazin, M.D., of the Washington Institute
of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and the Johns Hopkins department of
dermatology, tells SELF. A sugar binge can show up on your face in just a
few days. If your skin’s unruly, Kazin recommends reassessing your
diet, otherwise “you may be treating skin for other issues without
getting to the bottom of what’s really going on.”
4. You’re way moodier than usual.
The blood sugar crash that happens when you’re coming off a
sugar high can cause mood swings and leave you feeling crabby. Not to
mention, if your energy is also tanking, that just contributes to a bad
5. You’ve been putting on some weight.
Excess sugar is excess calories, and since it has no protein or fiber,
it doesn’t fill you up (so you just keep eating it). It also triggers
the release of insulin, a hormone that plays a big role in weight gain.
When we eat sugar, the pancreas releases insulin, which carries sugar to
our organs so it can be used for energy. When you load up on sugar,
your body’s told to produce more insulin—over time, that excessive
output can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means our
bodies can’t respond to normal amounts of insulin properly and therefore
can’t use sugar the right way. The initial weight gain from simply
eating too many calories from sugar is being compounded by the
disruption to your normal insulin response (there’s a link between
insulin resistance and obesity). What’s more, when the pancreas works in
overdrive for too long you can develop diabetes.
6. You’ve been getting more cavities.
When bacteria chow down on food particles in between the teeth, acid is
produced, which causes tooth decay. Our saliva maintains a healthy
balance of bacteria on its own, but eating sugar can impact the pH and
throw off the natural ecosystem. This gives the bacteria a chance to
thrive and multiply, leading to cavities.
7. Your brain tends to get foggy, especially after a meal.
This fog is a common symptom of low blood sugar. When you eat a lot of
sugar, your blood sugar levels rapidly rise and fall instead of
gradually doing so. “Poor blood sugar control is a major risk for
cognitive issues and impairment,” says Alpert.
8. Nothing tastes as sweet as it used to.
“Eating too much sugar basically bombards your taste buds,” Alpert says.
“This sugar overkill causes your taste bud sugar tolerance to go up, so
you need more and more sugar to satisfy that sweet craving.” When your
taste buds need lots of sugar to feel like something is sweet enough, it
can be tough to lower your base level. However, it you cut back and
suffer through it in the beginning, you’ll eventually lower your
tolerance again and be content with minimal sugar. You might even start
to feel like things are too sweet for you and—gasp!—be happier consuming
sugar in moderation.