It’s the time of year when treats start showing up, well, everywhere. From workplace goodies to gifts from friends and neighbors, it’s hard to avoid sugary snacks –and the temptation to overindulge in them! But did you know that, along with its ill effects on your waistline, sugar also does a number on your teeth? In fact, a 2014 study from the World Health Organization found that when caloric intake of sugar increased from 0% to 5%, the amount of tooth decay doubled. That’s when the same organization dropped their daily recommendation for sugar intake from 10% of total calories to less than 5%. Here’s how you can cut back:
You might be consuming sugar without knowing it because it’s often not called “sugar.” The sweet substance goes by a lot of different aliases, including maltose, corn syrup, molasses, malt, dextrose and sorghum syrup. While some sugars might be deemed healthier than others, note that honey and other natural sweeteners can also cause tooth decay.
One way to avoid hidden sugars is to make your meals at home. That way you can control everything that goes into your food – and subsequently into your mouth! Play around with modifying recipes to reduce sugars and help the kids enjoy healthy, non-sugary foods.
While you don’t have to nix sugar forever (unless you want to, in which case we’ll be supportive!), you should get in the habit of saving it for special occasions. As it is, the average American gets about 12 to 15% of his daily calories from sugar – a whopping three times the recommended limit! Get in the habit of indulging only on special occasions.
Juice, soda and sweet coffees are a good way to load up with sugar in one fell swoop. Drinking these beverages not only adds to your daily caloric intake without giving you much energy in return, but it also washes sugar around in your mouth and on your teeth. Make a rule to stop drinking sugar – you’ll be surprised how much sugar you save yourself from.
Here’s to a sweet, but non-sugary holiday season!