Today is Halloween, which means kids decked out as ghosts, witches, and vampires will be trooping by in the Main Street parade at our Connecticut home. Then, at the end of the day, these same small town kids—like 40 million or so of their peers around the country—will be eagerly going door to door to bring home a feast of sugary goodies.
Unless parents apply the brakes on consumption (for themselves as well as their kids), youngsters typically gorge themselves over the next several days, sending blood sugar and insulin levels soaring toward weight and behavior problems, as well as seeding degenerative ailments that are showing up at earlier and earlier ages.
I’m not one to put a damper on fun, but I do want to make a case for moderation—during Halloween and throughout the holiday season.
Here are my top suggestions for avoiding “sugar shock” during the holiday season, and beyond:
- Steer clear of doughnuts and pastries. You get the sugar, plus damaging hydrogenated oil and processed, fiber-less flour. Who needs this jackpot of junk?
- Beware of sodas. They are liquid candy—the number one dietary source of added sugars. Studies connect them to weight gain and numerous nutritional deficiencies. For example, sodas rich in phosphates inactivate magnesium, a critical mineral for your health. While I’m on the subject, also watch out for sweetened trendy teas, energy drinks, and sports drinks. One popular brand of vitamin-infused water has more sugar per bottle than a doughnut!
- If you need to sweeten any foods, add a little juice from oranges, grapes, pears, peaches, or other fruits. You can also use some shredded raw or dried apples, coconuts, raisins, or dates. Try sprinkling on cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg. You also may want to experiment with stevia, an herbal supplement that millions of people use as a sweetener.
- Eat several small meals, starting with breakfast, and include some protein at each sitting to keep you feeling satisfied. By eating little portions throughout the day, you will be less inclined to overload on party food.
- As far as dessert is concerned, challenge your willpower. If you can’t resist, take a couple of bites but no more.
- Limit alcohol intake. This includes wine, beer, and liquor. Many people don’t realize that alcohol contains a large store of hidden sugar.
Remember, if you eat sugar all day long, you will just continue to crave it. So avoid it in the first place!