HOW TO GET THROUGH HALLOWEEN SWEETS AND WHAT TO DO INSTEAD?
Spooky holidays are here! Pumpkins, costumes, happy kids and unfortunately – sugar.
I’m very rarely a true drama queen, but let’s face it, sugar is the devil. Ironically, fitting perfectly in the spooky theme.
That appealing cookie in the shape of Casper the ghost might look cute, but it gets quite ugly when you break it down for yourself.
And I understand that no one wants to hear how bad it is, but let’s just do a little rundown and quickly move to the pleasant part as of what to do instead!
Not your dream team!
Sugar and menopause don’t mix well, unfortunately. When going through menopause, as estrogen and progesterone diminish, our cells become more resistant to insulin, meaning the body has to work harder to manage blood sugar.
Many women see their blood sugar levels rise and fall during this time, making them more vulnerable to weight gain and fatigue. And there’s something else, I’m afraid…
High blood sugar has been linked to hot flashes.
So, it makes total sense that if sugar impacts blood sugar levels, it might also increase the number and intensity of your hot flashes, as suggested in some recent studies.
The glycemic index (a system that ranks foods on a scale from 1 to 100 based on their effect on blood-sugar levels) indicates that foods low on the index (vegetables, some fruits, whole grains, nuts and some dairy) stabilize blood sugar levels.
In contrast, a diet high in saturated fats and sugar (fatty meats, processed baked goods, fruit juice, many condiments) leads to spikes in blood sugar levels, and that’s when hot flashes can occur.
Put a spin on your skin!
As far as skin goes, sugar will exacerbate current problems like acne, rosacea, eczema and pigmentation.
It can also contribute to inflammation which decreases the collagen and elasticity of the skin resulting in dull, wrinkly and saggy skin.
I do my best at lowering my chances of worsening my turkey neck, but if eating sweets contributes to that – I’m out, ladies!
Balance is key
The good news for all of my sweet tooth ladies is that you don’t have to entirely eliminate sugar if you’re able to control your consumption.
Dark chocolate even has many benefits for women over 50! But I’ll write a post about this later.
The less good news is that most of us need some serious sugar reduction to get to the four to five teaspoons of “added sugars” recommended for a moderately active woman over 50.
For reference, a 12-ounce can of coca-cola is about eight teaspoons, which already is almost twice as much as the daily limit. Or a Milka chocolate bar, for example, has around five teaspoons. Halloween is a true trap day for all of us, huh.
What are the benefits?
1. Reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers
2. Easier weight management
3. Generally better diet overall (more room for the good stuff)
4. Fewer spikes and troughs in blood sugar levels, reducing mood and energy fluctuations
5. Less dramatic menopause symptoms / HRT may be more effective
6. A better and stronger woman in the mirror
Balanced against all these health benefits, dipping into kids’ candy stash on Halloween sounds a little less attractive, doesn’t it?
But how to achieve the death of the sugar devil?
It indicates that there is in fact a sugar god, right? I think it could be having moderate sugar intake. Treating yourself to some cookies or an ice-cream isn’t something we should feel ashamed of. To my mind, it’s totally normal and is even necessary sometimes.
Read your labels, ladies!
You probably spent hours trying to figure out if your day cream is good enough for your New Year’s resolutions, yet when it comes to food, chances are, you throw everything pretty into the basket.
Maybe I’m wrong, and if so, I’m genuinely happy you are attentive as to what you buy for yourself and your family. I think it’s something we can all be better at.
Nonetheless, food manufacturers are sometimes a bit sneaky about calling sugar “sugar” because they know we’re on to them.
Proposed changes to nutrition labels will call out added sugar, finally separating them from naturally occurring sugars, according to sources.
Ingredients are listed in order of their predominance by weight, so if the sugar comes at or near the top of the list for that spaghetti sauce, or if there are a lot of different types of sugar listed, buy another brand or make it yourself.
Invest in yourself!
Cook more! Invest time and effort into making delicious meals at home. It’s easy to order in, but making the food yourself will add value and gratification while making your wallet smile as well.
There are hundreds and thousands of recipes you can find online, adjusting to your and your family’s needs and desires. Put in time, a little bit of effort and see how it elevates your day-to-day life.
Would you be interested in seeing some of my favourite recipes appear here on the blog? Let me know!
Eat real food!
Eating real foods as opposed to processed ones which can contain lots of hidden sugars can help you get your daily intake.
The closer you get to mother nature’s original recipe, the healthier the food often is. Common sense for some of us, but sadly, not everyone pays attention to this.
Check out your local farmers’ market! It’s a fun experience you can do with friends or grandchildren! I personally see only benefits – fresh air, a walk, new sensual experiences, socialising, getting fresh and local goods, satisfaction and great taste!
In the absence of this option, haunt the produce section of your local grocery stores. Shopping “around the edges” of the store is a good way to avoid the overly processed stuff which tends to hang out in the middle (and my middle, when I eat it).
Again, the investment you make to eat better food, feel, do and be better, is the most valuable investment you will ever make. Period.
Fruit, fruit, fruit
Nature’s candy is diverse in flavor, texture, color and benefits, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 76% of us can’t even manage to cram in the measly cup-and-a-half we should be getting each day.
Worried the sugar in fruit will make you fat? Don’t.
Fruit comes packed with water and fiber, which help us fill up before we eat too much.
Slice a banana on your oatmeal before you nuke it and let the natural sugar sweeten it much better than any syrup will.
Processed and added sugars are generally converted into fat, which winds up as the infamous menopausal belly bump - but you don't have to worry about that with fruit.
To shortly conclude, don’t give in for the Halloween just for the sake of candy.
Find and act on better decisions that will benefit you in the long run.
Cook something nice for your loved ones, decorate your home, light a candle and listen to something that makes your heart sing.
A much better time rather than some spooky candy. Leave those for the young!
And, of course, remember that you’re sweet enough already!
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