Halloween Scares Me a Bit because it Starts the Sugar Craving Season!

Confession Time: When I was a child, I loved sugar.  My favorites included TastyKake Butterscotch Crimpets and at Halloween, Kit Kats.  My memories of Halloween include counting the stash of candy on the kitchen table and my mom removing most of it.  But my fondest memories were of one house in my neighborhood where the owners invited us in, and we had to entertain them for our treats.  I played the piano and then they gave us homemade caramelized apples. A different time lol.

When our three children were growing up, I recall the excitement of the picking or making of the costume, (one year during my environmental activist period, I turned my eldest son into a tree) My younger boys were luckier that I gave in and bought them whatever costume they wanted. However, I also recall the weeks of sugar-induced ill behavior afterward. And my gut issues from all the sugar I was consuming to keep the children from eating the candy. 

The Bitter Side of Sugar

These memories and my growing knowledge of sugars’ ill effects on my health and the health of my clients have me rethinking Halloween during the past few years.  I am choosing healthier options to give the neighborhood trick or treaters, maybe to their dismay.  I do believe their parents are thanking me and so will their future selves as they realize the damage that all of the accumulated sugar has on their physical health.

The average American consumes 152 lbs. of sugar a year compared with 2 lbs. per year 200 years ago. 152 lbs,  according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, means an average American is eating 6 cups of sugar a week and that most are hidden in processed foods.

Sugars’ dangers are well known.  But it is worth repeating—weight gain, inflammation throughout the body, metabolic disorders including diabetes, hormonal issues, and brain issues.  Sugar gives you quick energy and then the energy drops just as quickly creating a cycle of blood sugar imbalances and an addictive-based craving.  Understanding the hormone dopamine puts some of this into perspective.  Dopamine is all about craving.  Dopamine makes us initially feel good as we pump what we are craving into our system (Exercise, sex, caffeine, sugar, alcohol), but dopamine has an evil twin.  It stops being satisfied with what you have gotten used to.  In other words over time, you need more sugar to get that same high feeling you had initially.

Some Advice That Might Help Keep the Sugar Cravings at Bay!

  • Eat more healthy foods including high-quality protein, healthy fats, fiber, and greens at every meal.  These make you feel satiated.
  • Try to eat your meals calmly and slowly and then allow your body time to feel its fullness.
  • Drink lots of pure water or herbal teas in between the meals.
  • If you are willing, try intermittent fasting. In other words, shorten the window of eating time to under 12 hours per day.
  • Try substitutes for sugar that are not unhealthy for most people including dates, applesauce, maple sugar, coconut sugar, Monkfruit and Stevia.
    1. My grain-free sugar-free banana bread is incredibly sweet from the over-ripe bananas. (See recipe here)
    2. My date pumpkin balls are sweetened by the dates and Monkfruit (See recipe)
  • Be mindful about when and why you are craving the sugar. Often, cravings can result from a lack of nutrients or minerals or a lack somewhere else in your life, like love or friendship or understanding.

In other words, stay present during this busy, sugar craving season for why you want the sugar, what it is actually a craving for, and what could you substitute this sugar craving with that might be equally satisfying and healthier at the same time.  If you need help, please reach out. 

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!

Andrea

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