You know what Halloween means: sugar, sugar, oh, and more sugar! As early as late summer, stores began displaying festive treats conveniently packaged in small, easy-to-eat portions. When the holiday finally arrives, we have already been gobbling up candy corn and “fun-sized” candy bars for weeks.
I remember a time when I couldn’t wait for all those multi-packs chocolate bars and candies to hit the store shelves. I didn’t have to decide between two different brands because I could have a little bit of everything.
Can you relate?
Halloween is all about dressing up to get candy and other sweet treats. Even if you try hard to avoid it, you will ultimately have to make a choice at some point whether to indulge or not.
Will you give in?
While one piece of candy won’t make or break your health, few of us stop at just one. In fact, most of us see Halloween just as we see every other holiday or neighbor’s cookout: as a perfectly good time to indulge and ‘live a little’.
But that indulgence takes its toll and is manifesting itself more and more in the current epidemic of obesity and 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.
But Lisa, I’m not worried about diabetes.
Maybe not right now but whether you have diabetes or not, I’m certain you still have to deal with issues like fluctuations in blood sugar. It can show itself by:
- brain fog
- Inability to concentrate
- Shakes or jitters
- 3pm crash
- Hormonal imbalances – Cortisol, Leptin and Ghrelin
When those hormones are out of balance for too long weight gain is inevitable.
All of this ends up creating a cycle that if left unchecked can lead to much bigger problems down the road besides weight gain.
Here’s what that cycle looks like.
Hormones like leptin decrease so you don’t feel satiated. The hormone ghrelin increases and with it, your appetite. That results in an increase in calorie intake. More calories in lead to weight gain. Over time this can lead to insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is not a good thing since it has many negative effects on the body including causing the body to produce more insulin which leads to increased hunger, higher blood pressure, and weight gain.
Do you see a pattern here?
If this cycle continues it can lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
How does all this work?
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.
What is Diabetes?
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 to keep your blood sugar within a safe range.
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, eventually, they won’t be able to work well enough to 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 to have an effect.
When these situations develop, you have Type 2 diabetes. That’s not a good thing.
Prevention is key
The good news is that Type 2 diabetes is completely preventable. Taking steps to create a healthy lifestyle, you will never have to experience this disease. And if you already have Type 2 diabetes, your food choices can help you control it.
Do what you can to keep your weight with a healthy range, eat a diet full of whole foods, minimize processed foods and added sugars, exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
Life can still have sweetness… Just without the added sugar.
Get my Halt the Hangry’s Guide to learn how to balance your blood sugar, control your hunger, and even prevent getting hangry. Find out why meal frequency is important, what foods to eat more of, and how to read food labels to avoid excessive sugars.
Even though I will never tell you to avoid eating a particular food, if you aren’t able to limit yourself to just one or two treats then it might be a good idea to just avoid them entirely. The price you will have to pay in the future is not worth it.