I love Fall…but, come the end of October, I start to get a little anxious…Not because of the impending cold weather but because it essentially marks the beginning of what I call, “Sugar Season”. Between Halloween and New Year’s Day, candy seems to be everywhere. It infuriates me when I go to the grocery store and all I see is ever-larger bags of candy for sale. As a parent, I teeter between wanting my children to partake of the festivities and putting a stop to the excess by throwing all their Halloween candy in the garbage (which I have been known to do). My children argue that they are certain I ate candy when I was a child. Probably…however, I don’t recall it being a daily occurrence. Candy, chocolate, soda, etc…was a special treat to be savored.
In fact, we now eat almost double the amount of sugar than we did in the 1960s. There is a fascinating infographic that came out a few years ago that has some very worrisome data. (For the full infographic, go to the site for the Richmond Institute.) Specifically:
- In 1822, the average American consumed 45g of sugar. In 2012, that number was 765g.
- The average adult has 22tsp. of sugar per day, and the average child has 32tsp. per day. Of this, the majority comes from sodas.
- Added sugar accounts for about 500 calories every day.
- Brain scans show that sugar is as addictive as cocaine.
If this isn’t enough to get you to reconsider your and your family’s intake of sugar, consider the myriad of ways in which sugar weaks havoc on your health, specifically:
- The excess sugar you eat gets converted to fat by your liver and contributes to obesity.
- The more insulin your pancreas has to produce to keep up with your increasing sugar intake, the higher your risk of developing diabetes.
- Increased production of insulin also leads to increased triglyceride levels which, in turn, leads to a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Consuming excessive amounts of sugar weakens your immune system and causes chronic inflammation in the body.
- Sugar depletes important minerals from your body, especially calcium and magnesium, and puts you at risk of developing arthritis and osteoporosis.
So, what are we to do about this? A few important steps:
- Treat candy and desserts (and soda) as an occasional treat, not an everyday necessity. I am sure that your kids are well-behaved at all times, get their homework done without a fuss, and are overall great kids but that isn’t a reason to indulge them with sweets all the time.
- Try limiting your sugar intake for several days. It may be difficult in the beginning but, after a while, you’ll find that you will crave less sugar and won’t want that extra-sweet taste.
- If you’re craving sugar, opt for fruit instead of a candy bar. The sugar in a fruit will give you energy for a longer period of time than a candy bar, or can of soda.
- Read food labels and stay away from foods that have added sugars, such as ketchup or packaged breads (there are over 50 names for sugar, most of them ending in “ose” so stay away from those—no pun intended).
- A diet lacking protein and fat can lead to sugar cravings so make sure you get enough protein and healthy fats in your diet.
…Oh, and most importantly, don’t replace sugar with artificial sweeteners because those are as bad as sugar, if not worse.
That said, I will take my kids trick-or-treating, and won’t throw out all of their Halloween candy (only the stuff that comes in weird colors, but that is the topic of another discussion). I will also teach them to be mindful of how they are nourishing their bodies. No matter what the advertisements say, a chocolate bar may satisfy you momentarily but won’t nourish your body.
Kale Salad with Cabbage and Carrots
FOR THE DRESSING
1 garlic clove, grated
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Gomasio salt
8 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
FOR THE SALAD
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
2-3 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
2-3 carrots, shredded
MAKE THE DRESSING
- 1. Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
MAKE THE SALAD
- 1. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with salad dressing and allow to stand for 20-30 minutes before serving.
I spent a glorious few days in Barcelona, Spain with friends in early October. Check out some photographs of my trip HERE…
I’ve also been posting photographs on my Instagram account, check