As the holidays approach and the full schedule of parties is on your calendar, one thing you’ll be faced with many times this month is sugar. If you’ve heard me speak you know about the Sugar Train, an addictive, and seemingly socially acceptable indulgence.
Here’s a quick reminder for you to contemplate about how sugar consumption has skyrocketed in the US:
- In the 18th century the average American consumed 7 pounds of sugar per year
- In the 19th century the average American consumed 52 pounds of sugar per year
- In the 20th century the average American consumed 150 pounds of sugar per year
I haven’t seen any info on the 21st century yet, but this is obviously headed in the wrong direction! Sugar is hidden in so many of your foods that unless you’re reading labels you, like some of my clients may be astonished to see how often you’re consuming it. Never mind the straight sugar fix of holiday cookies, candies, cakes and alcohol.
The average weight gain for an American between Halloween and New Years is 13-20 pounds. Easy to do if you’re not making conscious choices. Remember the adage, everything in moderation? You have a choice whether to indulge or not. And before you do, think about this:
1 teaspoon of sugar weakens your immune system by 50% for the next 3-5 hours
In addition, sugar contributes to some less obvious issues:
- Sugar causes a decline in tissue elasticity and function – the more sugar you eat, the more elasticity and function you lose.
- Sugar contributes to saliva acidity
- Sugar can lead to ovarian cancer
- Sugar interferes with the body’s absorption of calcium and magnesium
- Sugar raises the level of neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine
- Sugar can cause premature aging
- Sugar can lead to alcoholism
- Sugar causes food allergies
- Sugar can interfere with the absorption of protein
- Read the full list of Nancy Appleton’s 141 Reasons Sugar Ruins Your Health
And this one is a big duh, but do something kind for yourself and limit the intake your children have:
Sugar can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, inability to concentrate and crankiness in children.
If you want to be healthy and avoid getting sick over the holidays you’ll need to plan your choices in advance. Here’s a few tips to help you navigate the buffet of temptations:
1 – Eat before you go to an event or party – this will ensure that you won’t overdue it on sweets
2 – Be sure to eat breakfast and lunch – this keeps your blood sugar in balance so you won’t eat everything that isn’t nailed down at the evening festivities. Your body and the way your clothes fit will thank you.
3 – Limit alcohol to 1 or 2 per event and preferably per week. Be sure to drink plenty of water as alcohol will dehydrate you. Be smart, use a designated driver! DUIs are expensive and completely unnecessary—plan in advance so you don’t make a poor choice while intoxicated that has a huge negative impact on your life.
4 – Eat protein and avoid as many “white things,” as possible. This will help to keep you in balance and away from the runaway sugar train.
5 – Plan ahead. If you have three, four or five events in one week, decide in advance which one you will indulge in to mitigate the weight gain. Keep to your plan by using strategies above.
6 – Get exercise! With all the extra sugar in your diet, you’ll feel sluggish which makes it easier to say “what the hell,” throw in the towel and overindulge.
7 – Believe in yourself and your ability to have some discipline and willpower. It’s all about what you put in your mind. See yourself being selective and kind to your body vs. spending all day looking forward to the sweets and alcohol. It makes a big difference.
Be kind to your body and brain, I believe in you. Make the choice to be different and make healthier choices. Come January 2nd, you’ll be glad you did!