Halloween is just around the corner and we all know what that means. Candy. It can be hard to resist the temptation to open the bag of mini chocolate bars you planned on giving out to trick-or-treaters. And it can be even harder not to pick out your favorite treats once the kids get home with overflowing pillowcases of sugary loot. However, before you go unwrapping the candy bars and licking your sticky fingers, you may want to learn the effects of sugar on the body.
It is no surprise that Halloween is the day that the most sugar is consumed in America. On average, children consume 3 cups of sugar on Halloween and the parents are not too far behind. All of that sugar can potentially derail your weight loss progress and actually cause you to pack on a few extra pounds.
The frightening effect that sugar has on the body:
Sugar is said to be as addicting as cocaine. When sugar is consumed, especially in excessive amounts, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine that is also known as the "feel-good"chemical. Over time, greater amounts of sugar needs to be consumed in order to reach the same level of dopamine and to ultimately feel that "sugar high". This is one reason why the more sugar we eat, the more sugar we crave. If we give into those cravings, it can have haunting effects on the entire body.
Consuming too much sugar may result in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Similarly, your liver can become insulin resistant and increase the risk of diabetes.
Have you ever noticed after you eat a ton of sugar you feel a bit achy? That is due to the inflammation in the body caused by sugar and a process known as glycation.
Speaking of inflammation, it is now believed that chronic inflammation may be a contributing factor in heart disease.
Too much sugar may actually cause wrinkles. As stated above, sugar leads to inflammation in the bloodstream. This inflammation may damage collagen and elastin in the skin - the fiber that helps the skin stay firm and young looking.
It comes as no surprise that excessive amounts of sugar can cause weight gain. This is mainly a result of the added, empty calories in the diet that come with eating sugary foods.
Have we scared you away from sugar yet?
It may be hard to not become bewitched by all the candy that comes with Halloween, but never fear. We have some tips to help you out.
1. Wait to buy it.
If you plan on passing out candy at your house, we recommend waiting to buy it until the night before Halloween. This will keep the temptation out of the house and will limit your access to treats. We all know once you get started on a candy binge it is hard to stop. Also, avoid the post-holiday candy sales by staying out of the stores.
2. Mix things up
No, we don't mean mix the Hershey bar with the caramel chew. We mean be unique when deciding what to hand out to the trick-or-treaters. Instead of candy, hand out glow sticks or clementines that look like Jack-O-Lanterns. If your neighborhood and kids insist on candy, choose something you don't like!
3. Eat before the treat.
Be sure to cook a nutritious meal for you and kiddos before heading out to trick-or-treat. We recommend a meal that is high in protein so it will keep you feeling full for longer, making you less likely to indulge in the bad stuff. You can even bring a hot, sugar-free drink with you to keep your hands full and toasty warm.
4. Be Active
Walk the neighborhood with the kids. Too often parents sit in the car watching instead of walking with their kids. Get out there with them! Not only will they love it, but your body will too. Even if you don't have children, consider walking around to see the festivities happening outside your front door. If you don't want to go alone, dress up the dog!
5. Remember your progress.
We know if can be hard to resist the temptation to indulge in all the sweet treats that come with Halloween. However, once you get off track with your new eating habits it can be hard to get back on. Halloween is just one day so remember all of your hard work and don't get tricked into eating foods that are not in line with the healthy new you.
The team at Live Healthy MD hopes you all have a safe and healthy Halloween!