I have noticed that more and more businesses keep a small bowl of candy in reception areas and on countertops. These bowls of candy are practically becoming part of the décor. The other day, while waiting for my hairstylist, a woman marched over to the obligatory bowl of candy, snatched up a fistful of candy and announced, “I need some sugar!” She was not a diabetic in distress; she was not faint from not eating. She had an emotional need for not just one piece of candy – but a fistful.
I know there have been times when I felt the same way. But observing this woman’s self righteousness over her need for sugar really made me take a step back and think about her need for sugar. As women we have practically become a sisterhood of sugar devotees. We use ice cream to mend a broken heart, chocolate to get through hormonal flux, sweet treats to reward ourselves, cakes and pastries for celebrations and special occasions, and delightful tidbits of this or that, just to get us through the day.
We are hearing more about sugar addiction from a number of health authorities, including Dr. Oz and the Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietitian and manager of wellness nutrition services for the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. We have heard stories for years about the addictive nature of junk food, and most recently the big news comparing the addictive nature of Oreos to Cocaine. We have learned that sugar truly affects our brain by altering neurotransmitters which actually does make us need, crave, or require sugar literally to calm our nerves.
Sugar causes inflammation in the body, aggravates joint pain, wreaks havoc with skin issues, and weakens the immune system. It is also obviously a source of useless calories that cause a blood sugar roller coaster. We get the lift from the sugar, which is rapidly absorbed, causing a blood sugar drop that forces us to eat more to raise the blood sugar back up. These sugar highs and lows can lead to insulin resistance, which can then put us at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
Woman to woman, what troubles me the most is that women seem to be specifically targeted by the food industry for sugary indulgences. This has been the case for quite some time – Valentine’s Day chocolates and boxes of candies for Mother’s Day. Somehow, the food industry has convinced us that we need sugar – that a mocha frappuccino, cookie dough ice cream and foil wrapped kisses are our divine right. We have come to believe we deserve this decadence since nature has doled out to us monthly hormone flux, periods, and then no hormones and no periods. Whatever we are going through, we have been given the message that sugar will fix everything.
Try these healthy sweet treats with no sugar or artificial sweeteners:
- Stuffed dates – Try fillings such as goat cheese, almonds or walnuts
- Fresh berries
- Fresh figs – Try broiling them adding a drizzle of honey or stuffing with blue cheese
- Pureed fruit popsicles
- Freeze fresh fruits for delicious granita, sorbet or smoothies
We need to take our health back. Our brains, emotions and bodies are ours to control. We must be our own advocates. The next time you see an ad that specifically targets you to consume more sugar and more calories, remind yourself that sugar doesn’t love you. You can love yourself. Pamper every bit of your being. Just say, “No, thank you.”
Is sugar a problem for you? What tips have you used to cut back on sugar?
Photo source: jirkaejc, Crestock.com