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How to Avoid the Holiday Sugar Train
It’s virtually a no-brainer that sugar is not good for you, but just how bad is refined sugars? The list is long and keeps getting longer. Studies tell us what anyone who has fallen hard into the sugared doughnut hole already knows; the more we eat, the more we want. Addiction to sugar is very real and don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not! Scientists know that when we eat sugar, the same “oh-my-heavens-that-is-so-good!” part of our brains, known as the pleasure center, lights up like the 4th of July. It’s the same high, and the same location in the brain, that is stimulated by alcohol, smoking and drugs.
You already know that sugar is the nasty little habit behind many of our health related problems. Sugar has been linked to liver damage, heart failure, even cancer. Most of us end up eating as much as 4 times more sugar then we realize because sugar is hidden in almost every food we consume. Many people mistakenly believe that if they stay away from candy and cookies that they aren’t consuming sugar, but that isn’t the case. If you are consuming fast foods, junk foods, or processed foods, then you are probably taking in far more sugar than you realize and far more than what is considered to be safe.
Did you know, however, that some studies have found that sugar can age you faster than normal? A study recently published recently discovered that sugar speeds up the body’s aging process by shortening the length of chromosomes. In short; that lunchtime can of soda sends a sugar surge to the system that will make you look older, faster. Wow.
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OK, so knowing all this, what is a person to do to avoid the holiday sugar train that is fast approaching? This would be a good time to think about a making out a sugar strategy. Of course, many people don’t want to avoid everything tasty during the holidays, and if that is the route you plan to go then you should at least make smart choices. Start by indulging in treats you can‘t normally get the rest of the year. Chocolate candy? That’s available all year. However, eggnog, your grandma’s sweet potato pie, candied apples, and apple cider? Now that’s another story. However, keep portion control in mind. Simply because it’s not available all year does not mean you should try and make up for that by eating 12 pieces in a matter of days. Plan to have one portion of something you really, truly love.
You might also want to plan on eating a meal or snack every three or four hours to stop yourself from snacking right from the See’s candy box. Before you go anywhere, eat! Put a healthy snack, like nuts, in your pocket or purse. Eating three protein rich meals and at least two protein rich snacks each day will keep you from being hungry and avoid the temptation to eat a dozen rum balls.
If you get to a holiday buffet, pot luck, or dinner, try loading up on sweet vegetables that will satisfy your sweet tooth without the sugar. Try winter squash dishes such as acorn or butternut squash, or sweet potatoes (as long as they haven’t been made with tons of pancake syrup or marshmallow toppings), or parsnips. These are all safe choices that can really satisfy. Read also how they help for kidney stones.
Thinking positively will help as well. Don’t think “I’m not eating sugar, what a bummer”, instead, think “I am making healthy choices for my body and I can do this.” If you think you won’t be able to stop eating sugar, you won’t.
Worst case scenario – You give in and eat your grandma’s sweet potato pie, your aunts pumpkin cheesecake, and your nieces caramel apples. It happens to the best of us and you don’t need to beat yourself up about it. Do a sugar detox as soon as you can and get back on the wagon.