We have heard it before: “sugar is bad for you”. I know you know this. So why would I take an entire blog post to tell you what you already know?
I am a big believer that the more we know, the better we do. It’s a simple and effective principle that has changed my life. So today, I am not here to tell you what you already know. I am here to share knowledge so that you can be empowered to make an educated decision.
I will be honest. When I say “sugar scares me” it is totally my catchy way to get your attention. Because I am not actually “scared” of sugar. Sugar has no power over me! Maybe it seems a bit drastic, but I bet deep down, many of you feel like sugar or cravings DO have power over you and I am here to tell you it doesn’t. It’s like opening the closet to see that the boogie man figure is just your winter coat. You deserve to live with power over your cravings AND enjoy days like Halloween (ie the national eat sugar day).
The Science Behind Your Sweet Tooth
I am going to keep this brief. Sugar cravings often come from a low level of serotonin. On top of this, when you eat sugar, it causes a release of endorphins which cause an “addiction” like response to eating sugar. The more you crave it, the more you eat it, the more you get “happy hormones” and feel rewarded for eating it. And the cycle continues.
Why Should You Care?
The pitfalls of sugar go beyond putting on extra weight. Sugar is also linked to depression, acne, higher risk of heart disease and diabetes II, fatigue, cellular aging, cognitive decline, dental health problems...come on, do you need more reasons? Basically everything you are trying to prevent by eating broccoli, you are undoing with every serving of sugar. And sugar is in EVERYTHING in the modern American diet which means you are likely undoing a lifetime of broccoli eating in a single week of sugar consumption.
Did you hear me? Let’s put it this way. Every time you eat sugar, you are not only NOT adding nutrients to your body, but you are depleting your body of the nutrients it already has. Even though you might feel a quick sugar high from that donut, you are making a long term negative impact on your health.
Start With the End in Mind
My mom raised me to put lotion on my neck to prevent wrinkles from the time I was 12 years old. At 12, I didn’t even have a clue as to what wrinkles were! But I started a habit that day, before I had a problem, that has made a difference in my life now. The negative fallout of a high sugar diet is far more intense than a few neck wrinkles, wouldn’t you say? I bet that you are already facing the impact of a sugar-filled lifestyle, but that does not mean it is too late to reassess your goals and think about the endgame. (Cue Avengers crashing in through the ceiling)
I am sure many of you already knew that sugar was bad for your health, but still, you choose to indulge! Why? Because it can feel tempting and hard to avoid. But there are easy practical steps you can take right now that don’t mean making drastic changes in your day-to-day.
Start With Mindfulness
When you want to binge on sugar, ask yourself these questions:
1) Am I actually hungry or am I just wanting to eat?
Either way, take this moment to first indulge in a nice cup of water and a serving of your favorite veggie.
2) Does this choice align with who I want to be?
I know. This sounds a bit deep for someone who just wants some chocolate, but hear me out. Does eating this __(fill in the blank)__ align with your big-picture goals? If your goal is to be fit, to live a long life, to keep up with your kids, to reduce inflammation, or improve your mental clarity, then I can tell you eating that (whatever it is) does not fit in with who you are wanting to be.
3) How can I take care of my body right now?
When you are facing a craving, don’t react from a deprivation mindset. Meaning, don’t hyperfocus on the things you need to avoid. This will only make you think about sugar more and cause you to likely cave to your cravings. Instead, think about what you could be doing to treat your body with respect and nourish your mind. Find things to focus on that heal your body and find “treats” that don’t revolve around food. Some of my favorite things to think about when I need a boost include a hike I am dreaming about going on, my future with my husband or a goal that I am super proud to have accomplished. Redirect your focus from the “can't” to the “I wilI”, “I can” and “I have”.
Choose A Better Option
There are several sweet alternatives that will be better for your health, I promise. Here is my list of recommended sugar alternatives and alternatives to avoid. Reminder: just because it’s better, doesn’t mean it’s optimal. Practice portion control when it comes to even the BEST sugar alternatives.
Your Healthy Halloween
In honor of Halloween, I thought I would share my favorite sweet-treat recipes for adults and kids! Try this recipe and make sure to tell me how you liked them!