News flash: We’re all dipped in honey and rolled in sprinkles. The average person shovels in 300 calories from added sugar every day, according to a recent report from the University of North Carolina. Roughly 20% of Americans exceed 700 calories of added sugar on a daily basis. That’s an entire cup of sugar. Whoa. (See how easy that is to do with these 10 surprising foods that list sugar as the first ingredient.)
“Not only are we getting added sugar from obvious places like cakes, candy, and soda, but it’s also coming from healthier-sounding packaged products like salad dressing, pasta sauce, and yogurt,” says Elyse Powell, one of the report’s coauthors and a doctoral researcher at UNC. (To be clear, by “added sugar” we’re talking about the super-processed sweet stuff you’d add to a batch of cookies, not the natural sugars found in whole fruit, veggies, and plain milk.)
The big takeaway from that UNC report: Most of us could stand to cut back on sugar. The American Heart Association suggests women stick to 6 teaspoons or less of added sugar daily. That’s roughly 25 grams, or 100-calories worth, if you’re checking food labels.
Exactly what you’ll experience when you ditch the sweet stuff will depend on the size of your sugar habit; people on the high end of the sugar-consumption spectrum show “addict”-like withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, restlessness, and even depression,research has shown.
But assuming you’re like the average American, there are a few things you can expect to happen once you wrestle your sugar habit back into its cage.