Yesterday was Halloween and there has been and will continue to be, candy everywhere we go! Candy for the anticipated eve, and then left over candy that didn’t get “treated”. So, what does that mean for our bodies?
I am not a doctor or nutritionist, but there is enough data that shows how terrible sugar is for us. Period. Yes, it can be delicious and feel like a reward and kids crave it, but why is that? Is it intrinsic or trained? My young 5-year old grandson prefers berries to any form of candy or ice cream. Gradually, however, he is being encouraged, not by his parents, but by the media and marketing of sugar-based foods to learn to want candy. After all, it is a treat, it is special, and who doesn’t want that? And, it is now in so much of our food, often unknown to us, that our bodies learn to crave it.
Dr. Andrew Weil, a respected source of nutritional information, says that sugar can have a negative impact on health that can accumulate over the years. In other words, starting kids early on their sugar cravings, then adding those extra doses in so much of our daily food, is a direct path towards poorer health with aging. He suggests instead of candy, eating fruit to satisfy a sweet craving.
Another school of thought, led by Dr. Eric Westman at Duke University, suggests that eating healthy whole fats, which the American diet has removed as a result of the low-fat industry, is an alternative way to keep your body satisfied. Many of the low-fat companies have added sugar to replace the fats and that just adds to the sweet cravings. Instead, Dr. Westman suggests eating macadamia nuts, lots of them until you are satisfied, or other whole fat-rich foods. He says this will help alleviate the sugar craving.
For Halloween, I used to give out boxes of organic raisins, or whole apples. Well, with the fears that parents now have about crazy people poisoning their kids, it seems that unpackaged foods are just tossed, unwanted. Personally, I have postponed the dilemma of what to give out, by going out trick or treating with my grandsons instead of staying home to give out treats. But, that does not solve the problem. Maybe pretzels? But, the gluten-free folks would not approve. So, what to do?
There are many theories and nutritional guidelines about diets, low and high fat, sugar, and so on. Yet, on Halloween, many of us will have at least some chocolate. Kids will inevitably overindulge (with their off-the-wall behavior paying for it the next day!) I guess parents should teach their kids that eating all this sugar should be a once-a year event, and teach their children that too much of anything is not a good thing.
So, enjoy the sugar rush, America. Tomorrow you can compensate with healthier foods once again. And check out the food labels to make sure what you are eating does not have any extra hidden sugars added, where you don’t want them!
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