Tame the Sugar Beast
Sugar can be a REAL BEAST
I recently returned from a weekend spent with family in Michigan celebrating my Mom’s retirement…one of the recurrent conversations I had with both family and my Mom’s colleagues was about sugar and the insane addictive qualities of it.
I am often reminded, and quite humbled, that peers, friends and family acknowledge my desire to help educate and support my clients move towards a happy healthier relationship with food. It is not surprisingly that we are heading into a time of the year when even the most disciplined individuals vere off course with regard to healthy eating.
Statistics demonstrate that Americans consume 126 tsp of sugar daily!
That’s staggering! To give you some perspective, that is 3-12oz Coca Cola’s in one day…..alone. And this daily consumption increases steadily between Halloween and New Years parties, celebrations and events.
So, why should we care so much about sugar consumption and what does it contribute to?
- Imbalanced Gut Flora: we have a delicate balance of beneficial and non-beneficial bacteria in our guts..if this is disrupted, it opens up the possibility of opportunistic infections, lowers immunity, adversely impacts our moods and drive inflammation, yikes!
- Accelerates the aging process: this is something I’m particularly sensitive to as I get older, but we know that too much sugar increases the process of glycation….which ages our skin! We definitely want to do things to improve collagen synthesis as we age and not impede it. Ask me about more natural ways to address healthy skin aging that do not expose us to toxic chemicals for our skin and bodies.
- Obesity: with escalating rates of obesity in the US and most Westernized nations, extra calories from sugary foods and drinks is determinental to our health and increases our risk of developing cancer, heart disease and bad cholesterol (eg-LDL). It also impacts insulin…and the more insulin that is released and cortisol, the more fat you will gain.
- Increases risk of insulin resistance and diabetes: I tell each and every client….you DO NOT want insulin resistance OR diabetes..it impacts every body system, including your brain. We actually know believe that Alzheimer’s dementia is related to the adverse impact of sugar on brain cells. We know that too much circulating sugar impacts hormones like cortisol, leptin, insulin in profound and negative ways, which has direct impact on weight gain, appetite and sugar dysregulation
- Contributes to the development of cavities and tooth decay. I don’t know about you, but I have never had a cavity and neither have my children, but if you look at areas of the country with the highest rate of soda consumption, you often see higher than normal rates of tooth decay as well.
So, what can I do to lessen the likelihood of “falling off” the proverbial wagon this holiday season?
- Allow yourself a few treats, but keep it in check. Meaning, do not eat your children’s entire Halloween stash and blame it on the “Switch Witch” or your spouse. Just have 1-2 pieces of candy and put the rest in an inaccessible place, or better yet, donate it or throw it away. Shh! My kids have been none the wiser for years! Temptations removed!
- Ensure that your are consuming sufficient healthy fats with each meal or snack. Fats keep our brains satiated and our bellies full. If you are full you are less likely to eat junk.
- Don’t arrive at parties or social events hungry AND do not over consume alcohol. Too much alcohol dysregulates our blood sugar and just makes us more subsceptible to poor food choices in general. It also is dehydrating.
- Ensure you are getting adequate rest, 7-8 hours/night, in a cold, dark room. Good sleep stabilizes hormones, like leptin and ghrelin that drive appetite and satiety.
- Move your body…. walk, take a class at your gym, do yoga, barre or pilates. Play with your kids, walk your dog, but do not be sedentary.