It’s the time of year where sweet treats are on the rise. It starts with the candy bowl from trick-or-treating and doesn’t end until the valentine’s chocolates are all scarfed down. The holiday season brings a huge uptick in refined sugar consumption for most of us and it can be challenging to avoid. But before we talk about how to avoid sugar let’s get clear on why keeping consumption of this “anti-nutrient” to a minimum is so important.
For starters, refined sugar has been stripped of all of its nutrients. Yes, sugar cane is a naturally occurring plant and sometimes that can make us ponder “Is it really that bad for us?” BUT… chances are you aren’t chewing on a stick of actual sugar cane in its whole form. If you were you’d actually be able to enjoy some of the calcium, magnesium, and zinc that the plant contains. But more likely you’re eating a cookie made with white sugar that has been processed to remove all of the fiber and nutrients that the plant once contained. Table sugar is heated at extremely high temperatures and goes through a multitude of steps to leave behind those pearly white crystals. It’s no longer in its natural form and what is left behind actually strips our body of nutrients.
You read that right!
Processed sugar robs our bodies of essential vitamins and minerals. Hence why it was referred to as the “anti-nutrient” earlier.
Moreso, as processed sugar moves through the body it spikes our blood sugar levels dramatically which can lead to the production of too much insulin and stress hormones. The term “sugar high” is not a joke. Processed sugar takes our bodies on a roller coaster ride and we typically get left with a food coma/sugar hangover afterward.
Finally, eating an excess of processed sugar continuously can have long term effects too. Its consumption has been linked to diabetes, cancer, dementia, obesity, depression, anxiety, hormonal imbalances, etc. So yes, sugar is not great for us! And it is worth the effort for us to consciously keep its consumption to a minimum.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Now that you’re bought into the “why” behind avoiding sugar, let’s talk about “how” we can do that while still enjoying ourselves this holiday season. ⠀⠀⠀
- Avoid processed foods whenever you can! Processed foods likely contain processed sugar. That means salad dressings, sauces, and of course processed treats and baked goods like cookies, pastries, and cakes. Try to make these things at home whenever you can so that you have control over how they are sweetened and if they need any additional sweeteners at all.
- Don’t fear fruit! Eating real fruit in its whole form actually helps to balance out our internal barometer for sweetness, helping us to realize what “real” sweetness tastes like. Especially after things like diet soda and Starbucks frappucinos have thrown off our ability to gauge how sweet something really is.
- Opt for healthier alternatives: Coconut sugar, raw honey, real maple syrup, or dates. I even recommend sweetening baked goods with pureed bananas (you’d be surprised by how tasty this can be)⠀
Bottom Line. Avoid processed sugar whenever you can but remember, indulging in that one cookie at your kid’s party or the singular slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving will not harm you. It’s what we do on the regular that truly affects our overall health and wellness. So choose wisely!
Need additional support kicking the cravings? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to support you on your journey toward optimal health!