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Hello, my name is Amber, and I am a sugar addict. My battle with obesity was largely due to my overconsumption of nutrient poor foods containing added sugars. There were underlying issues that caused me to overeat but the foods I chose to overindulge in were what caused the 100-pound weight gain to begin with. Although I have maintained my weight loss for several years, I refer to myself as an addict because I still struggle with controlling the amount of added sugar I consume to this day. When I completely remove “added” sugars from my diet I eventually stop craving them all together and cannot believe how sweet those foods taste once I have reset my pallet. Unfortunately, once I succumb to the sweet tooth it does not take long for me to need and be able to consume massive amounts of sugar to satisfy the craving for sugar.  

In fact, I just went through this process. I had some added stress in my life and reached for sugar to feel better. Before I knew it, I was buying large bags of candy thinking it would last a while or at least through a weekend but would find myself at the bottom of the bag at the end of the day! I gained 7 pounds quickly but that wasn’t enough to stop me from going back for more. I recently spent over a week being so sick that nothing sugary sounded good but now that I am better, I am struggling to avoid stirring the cravings just beneath the surface.  


According to the World Health Organization, the average American consumes 126 grams of sugar a day, with the next closest country sitting at 103 grams. The American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than 36 grams and women 25 grams. There are more grams of sugar in one 12-ounce can of soda! So why is this a problem, you ask?  

  • About 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes. About 1 in 5 do not know that they have it.  

  • More than 1 in 3 American adults have prediabetes. More than 8 in 10 do not know they have it. 

  • With diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin or cannot use it as it should. Over time, this can cause heart disease (the #1 cause of death in the U.S.), vision loss, and kidney disease. 

  • The percentage of adults aged 20 and overweight including obesity is a staggering 74%.  

  • If we remove those in the overweight category, we still see 42% of American adults classified as obese. 

  • Obesity increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, gallbladder disease and gallstones, osteoarthritis, gout, breathing problems, and some cancers. 


Sugar comes in many different forms known as glucose, sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), lactose (dairy sugar), maltose (grains) and more! It is no secret that glucose is the body's preferred fuel source for physical health and function, but this is only the case when consumed in moderation. Your brain uses more energy than any other organ, using one-half of the sugar energy in your body, but what happens when the body and the brain is subjected to excessive amounts of sugar?  

  1. Increased sugar cravings: for many people, having a little sugar creates cravings for more. 

  1. Lack of focus: we have all felt the boost from consuming something sugary, but it doesn’t last long, does it? Your glucose levels drop around 20 minutes after, leaving you feeling unfocused and easily distracted.  

  1. Mood: even healthy young people will struggle with emotional processing when blood sugar is elevated. Elevated blood sugar can cause increased anxiety and depression. 

  1. Inflammation: too much added sugar can raise your blood pressure and increase chronic inflammation, which can lead to heart disease 

  1. Drug-like effects in the reward center of the brain: the food industry adds chemicals, fat, salt, and sugar to our food to overstimulate our senses leaving us wanting more. 

  1. Memory: inflammation in the brain can cause memory difficulties, problems with attention, and slow cognitive function. 


Added sugar refers to the sugars and syrups added to foods and beverages when processed such as candy, baked goods, and sugary drinks. Natural sugars occur in fruit and milk. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that breaks down quickly as an easy source of energy for your body. You may have sugar cravings when you feel tired because your brain knows it needs energy. The Glycemic Index (GI) chart will show you how quickly carbohydrate rich foods raise your blood-sugar levels. The GI chart ranges 0-100 with pure sugar having a glycemic index of 100. Low-glycemic foods are those with a 55 or lower. Some fruits are medium-glycemic foods like bananas, raisins, and sweet potatoes. High-glycemic foods are those with added sugars.  

But I’ll give you some good news. While yes, sugar is sugar to your body, not all sugar is created equal. The sugar in fruit also comes with nutrients that our bodies need. Added sugar, highly processed foods do not come with the vitamins and nutrients we need to feel good and increase our health. The best news is that you can control the reaction to blood sugar when you eat some healthy fat or lean protein with your carbohydrates. The best thing you can do is create a balance in your meals and your day. Cereal for breakfast for example is going to be packed with upwards of 25 grams of sugar. Add to that some coffee with creamer and you can see how quickly it adds up! Add some fiber, healthy fat, and protein and it is a new day! 


Amber Cornist, Armbrust YMCA Health & Wellness Director,t%20know%20they%20have%20it. 

Category: Health & Wellness
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Meet Amber Cornist:

I got certified to become a personal trainer in 2014 after struggling with my weight for over a decade. I had developed a passion for helping others take charge of their health and knew the Y is where is wanted to do that. I've been training at the Armbrust YMCA ever since! Over the years I have added more certifications to my tool bag including a second PT certification, Small Group Fitness, Fitness Nutrition, and some of my favorite YMCA programs including Y Weight Loss, and LIVESTRONG at the YMCA. As a Health and Wellness Director I am looking forward to many more years of cultivating health and physical activity in our community!