It’s Halloween, and you know what that means: sugar, sugar, sugar! Beginning in late summer, stores begin taunting and tantalizing us with prominently displayed festive treats conveniently packaged in small, easy to eat servings. By the time the actual holiday rolls around, we’ve been wading through candy corn and “fun sized” candy bars for months.
All holidays have their peculiar food traditions, but Halloween perhaps wins the prize for being the most focused on candy and other sweet treats as the center of attraction. And no matter how hard you try to avoid it, you will undoubtedly find yourself staring down a confection before all is said and done.
Will you give in?
While one piece of candy won’t make or break your health, few of us stop at just one (I’m guilty of this myself on occasion.) In fact, most of us see Halloween as we see every other festive occasion from Thanksgiving to our neighbor’s cookout: as a perfectly good time to indulge in whichever kind of sweet temptations are presented to us.
But that indulgence takes its toll when it’s done for every holiday and festivity, and is manifesting itself more and more in the current epidemic of Type 2 Diabetes. It is called an epidemic because of the shocking increase in new cases of diabetes. Less than 5% of the population had diabetes in 1990. That figure is now up to 7%: a 40% increase.
Every 21 seconds someone is diagnosed with diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Much of the food that you eat is turned into glucose for your body to use as energy. After a meal, your pancreas produces the hormone insulin which helps the glucose, or sugar, move from your bloodstream into the cells in your body where it can be used for energy.
When you have diabetes, your body either does not make enough insulin or it cannot use the insulin that it produces. The result is a buildup of glucose or sugar in the bloodstream.
High levels of blood sugar cause extensive damage in the body such as heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and even amputations. Adults with diabetes are twice as likely to die early as those without diabetes.
What’s the connection?
The connection between Halloween and Type 2 diabetes is simple: the more sugar you eat, the harder your pancreas has to work to produce insulin and keep your blood sugar within a safe range.
But the cells in your pancreas that produce insulin are the only cells in your body that actually wear out from use. If you overwork them, they will eventually cease to perform in a way that can keep up with the demand.
Your body can also become resistant to the insulin that your pancreas produces. The more resistant your cells become to insulin, the more your pancreas has to make in order to have an effect. When these situations develop, you have Type 2 diabetes.
Also, sugar creates cravings for more sugar! Have you ever noticed that once you have some sugar (even in the form of a cookie or muffin) that you find yourself wanting more later on? This is why sugar is huge when it comes to weight loss as well!
The good news is that Type 2 diabetes is completely preventable. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, you will never have to experience this disease. And if you already have Type 2 diabetes, you can do much to control it naturally.
The best strategy is to keep your weight within normal range, eat a healthy diet full of whole foods and very little sugar, and exercise at least 30 minutes, 5 days per week.
These simple lifestyle changes are the enemies of Type 2 diabetes.
This Halloween, choose future health over present pleasure. Enjoy one or two treats, and then stop. It’s not worth the price you will pay later.
And if you’re like me, your body will tell you the next day that it didn’t like the sugar-overindulgence (along with effects of the artificial colours and flavours!) and you’ll wonder why you did it in the first place.
Wondering how to take back control of your cravings, so sugar is no longer at the steering wheel of your food and snack choices? Join my FREE 5-DAY SUGAR-FREE CHALLENGE and then make sure you're in my NUTRITION AND LIFESTYLE STRATEGIES private Facebook group for women. We'll run through the challenge together there shortly after Halloween!
If you're in, write I'M IN in the comments below!
May Anne Jordens-LaFlamme is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and the owner of "Wellness with May Anne." She is passionate about helping women look and feel their best, so they can live a more fulfilling life - without dieting, deprivation, relying on willpower or cooking separate meals for the family.