Every sugar-laden holiday leaves me a little conflicted; Easter is no different. On any other day, I would not consider eating chocolate bunnies or goop-filled eggs. However, the marketing geniuses at Cadbury and Hershey’s can turn my iron will and toned body into marshmallow fluff if I’m not careful.
Years ago, I would indulge without thinking twice about it. In fact, I’m not sure you could even call it indulgence, as sweet treats were a part of my daily life. They were more of the rule rather than the exception. However, after struggling with consistent headaches and exhaustion, I learned a few things about the effects of eating sugar that motivated me to overhaul my nutrition. That said, I admit that turning away delicious sugary goodness can be difficult, especially during social situations and holidays. When I start to break down and crave sugar, I keep the following points top of mind and I find it much easier to stay away:
- The positive effects of refined sugar are very temporary. Indulging in refined sugar provides short-lived joy. Yes, the taste is delicious, and it even gives you a little energy boost and emotional high. However, these effects wear off fast. Once your insulin spikes and your blood sugar plummets, you will feel terrible (see next point).
- Refined sugar does not facilitate your best. You’ll be a less fabulous version of yourself once the physical and mental side effects of the sugar crash begin to surface. For example, headaches, mood swings, depression and guilt, to name a few, are common side effects of indulging in sweet treats.
- “A little” can easily become “a lot,” “A little” refined sugar is rarely enough. A taste of it seems to awaken an inner beast that demands MORE. This inner beast is, again, a result of the blood sugar drop that I described earlier, which keeps your body in a cycle of sugar cravings.
- For the same calories, you can eat a lot more nutritionally dense food. Candy is high in calories and not very nutritionally dense; thus, it does little to feed and satiate your body. When considering eating some kind of refined sugar junk, I try to think of its opportunity cost. In other words, “What could I eat that would cost the same calorically?” For example, I could eat ½ cup of oats, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and ½ of a scoop of protein powder or I could eat two Cadbury Eggs (my favorite Easter candy) for the same calories. Not only would I feel more full, healthy and satisfied eating the oats, PB and protein, that choice is also working toward my goal for improved health and a lean physique rather than against it.
- Sugar is not a “beauty” food. In David Wolfe’s “Eating for Beauty,” he discusses how sugar damages the skin by disrupting the function of collagen and depleting one’s B vitamins, which can cause chapped lips and wrinkles. Also, sugar is widely known to cause inflammation in the body, which leads to water retention and puffiness.
- You can feel good that you did not give into the marketing geniuses. As a marketing gal, I get pleasure in knowing that I resisted the seduction of the candy pimps.
If after considering all these points, you choose to do a little indulging this Easter (I get it…we all need a treat from time to time), do it smart: (1) Eat the sugary treat(s) with a balanced meal to slow down the digestion of the sugar, which will help minimize the extreme rise and fall of your blood sugar and insulin, and (2) Pre-determine a limit on how much you will consume, so you do not mindlessly and unknowingly eating thousands of sugar calories throughout the day.
No matter what you choose to consume this holiday weekend, I hope you are “taking in” time with family and friends, as that is what holidays are really all about and what will provide us true happiness and satisfaction. (Despite what those marketing people tell us.)