Trick or Treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat! Kids are most definitely not referring to veggie sticks and a green smoothie when they chant this mantra on Halloween Night! They are asking for sugar and lots of it. The average American consumes 3.4 pounds of candy over Halloween. This is a serious amount of sugar and other stuff. By the “other stuff” I am referring to the chemicals, trans fats, preservatives, petroleum, and artificial colors that are found in so many popular brands of candy. At what point did these ingredients became synonymous with having a yummy TREAT?
Before I had children I thought it would be really “cool” to boycott handing out candy, so I passed out boxes of Crayola Crayons. Four outcomes come to mind when I recall this Halloween: 1) Many of the trick or treaters flat out refused my offering, turned around, and walked back down the sidewalk empty handed. 2) The crayons were considerably more expensive than handing out the poison. 3) What do you do with leftover crayons? 4) I think I was gosh darn lucky to have escaped my house getting eggs thrown at it that night – some kids were seriously mad about not getting a piece of candy from me. Alas, I came to the realization that halloween night that I was going to have to succumb to sugar.
So what is ALL the fuss about sugar anyway? Little bits of sugar here and there are not a big deal for most people. But most people are not getting just little bits of sugar here and there in their daily diet. One teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams of sugar. Health and Nutrition experts are now recommending that we limit our daily intake of sugar to 36 grams for Men and 24 grams for Women. That comes out to about 9 teaspoons of sugar a day for Men and 6 teaspoons for Women. This is where label reading becomes mission critical. There are a lot of red flag, high sugar foods that you might not think to even check the label for sugar content before you take a bite such as: yogurt with fruit (25 grams), cinnamon applesauce (20 grams), cereal (15 grams), breakfast bar (15 grams), and instant oatmeal (13 grams). I think you get the idea. It all adds up pretty quickly! This does not even take into consideration the glass of cranberry juice you had mid afternoon that had 32 grams of sugar in an 8 oz serving or that fun size candy bar you grabbed off the counter at the office.
There is a greater awareness around sugar these days, how it affects our body, and why health experts are urging people to reduce their sugar intake. Several key points to remember about sugar include:
- Sugar suppresses your immune system. It temporarily suppresses your immune system’s ability to respond to challenges. The effects can last for several hours. If you are eating foods with a high sugar content several times a day, your immune system is operating at a distinct disadvantage all day. And what starts happening a couple weeks post Halloween – the cold and flu season!
- Sugar has no nutrients, no protein, no healthy fats, and no enzymes. It is empty, quickly digested calories that actually pull minerals from your body during the digestion process.
- Sugar stresses your liver and increases your bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
There are many factors to consider when it comes to how sugar affects your body other than the effect it has on your waistline. Sometimes you need a little extra support to make the positive changes in your life with regard to reducing your sugar intake in order to cook healthier meals for your family, lose weight, or eat more mindfully.
At Release Well-Being Center we are here to support you on your health journey. We offer many tools to do that through a variety of modalities.
We look forward to seeing you soon at Release and offering you wonderful and healing ways to “treat” your body.
Wellness Education and Coaching — By Rachel Murray