Our body is a delicate ecosystem that requires care and maintenance. No matter what part of our body is affected whether it’s our muscles or our cells, there must be consideration for what helps our bodies function at their best. But it’s nearly Halloween, also known as the ultimate candy snackdown. The stores are filled with bags of snack sized candy, and what’s better than eating a couple of delicious, sugar laden snacks.
Over indulging in candy is an American norm around Halloween. But we have to ask ourselves the bigger question, what is this routine and way of thinking doing to us? From October to December it’s holiday after holiday with cakes, candy canes, and pumpkin spice lattes. Instead of following the usual communal bad choice of over indulging this season, think about what is going on for your body when we over consume sugar.
Something you may not know about sugar is what happens to your body once you’ve eaten it. Sugars are considered a carbohydrate, which provides your body with energy. After consuming sugar, your stomach absorbs the nutrients and distributes them into your bloodstream. The next step in the process of metabolizing sugar is a rise in insulin. Picture insulin to be a key that opens the door to a cell that allows it to absorb sugar. The sugar that doesn’t get used is stored in the liver and the muscles.
A simple process so far, but when we over consume sugar a number of bodily processes and functions are affected. Already we hear about insulin, which is a hormone made by the pancreas. If there’s too much sugar in the body, then the pancreas is working double time to keep up with the demand to bring sugar levels back down to normal. Imagine, you’ve just had a grueling morning workout at the gym, then you go back later in the evening to do the same grueling workout. You do this everyday without a break. That’s your pancreas. Even though a pancreas can’t feel sore, that doesn’t mean it’s not hurting and overworking itself. Eventually it will break down, and this is where chronic health conditions pop up like Diabetes.
Not just your pancreas is affected when we over consume sugar. The liver tries to compensate and dump extra fats into the bloodstream to help quell the influx of sugar. The excess fats made by the liver and then circulated around the body are known to stimulate inflammation in the body. Over time these fats cause a buildup of plaque in the arteries that can block blood flow, which is essentially a heart attack.
Those are the internal effects, but there are consequences that we can feel and see everyday. Too much sugar affects your skin and prematurely ages it by damaging the collagen and elastin, which means saggier, wrinkly skin. There are also sugar highs, and crashes in energy or mood swings. These greatly affect your brain and outlook, and with continued over consumption of sugar there is a link to a greater risk for depression.
Now that we know what sugar is doing to us internally, let’s focus our energy on how we can prevent these chronic health problems and take care of ourselves. The bullet points below can serve as a quick list of things to think about before you reach for that bag of skittles.
- Think about why you’re snacking. Unhealthy snacks might seem like a harmless indulgence, but as we’ve learned it pays to think deeper about the reasons behind the snacking habits. Is there a certain part of the day that you frequently find yourself snacking? Maybe you’re feeling tired at work and just need a sugar pick me up. The feeling of discomfort or tiredness is a deeper issue and a snack will only act as a short term solution. Take an extra second to be mindful of your intentions with snacking. A snack that is a band aid for boredom or a stressful work environment will lead right back to chronic health conditions. This is when you have to ask yourself, how can I change my environment or my habits to take care of myself.
- If done right, snacks can be an important part of your diet plan. Snacking on nutrient dense foods will keep you energized and be more helpful to your body in the long run. A nutrient dense snack is something that is high in vitamins, minerals, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates. These are usually raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, yogurt, cottage cheese, and the like. The right kind of snacks curb your appetite so you don’t over eat, and provide more nutrients to keep your body at peak performance. If you’re familiar with meal planning, know that you can do the same with your snacks. Plan ahead for those times you usually find yourself feeling peckish.
Our bodies are wonderfully adaptable and capable of amazing feats of strength, but it’s a delicate balance that needs attention. As the Halloween season draws closer, use these tips and ideas to stay aligned with your fitness goals. Keep in mind, your diet is about what works for you, and if snacks are an important part of your day, then make them count. Work smarter to find foods that benefit you! A good snack and meal plan in combination with physical training gets you prepared for anything whether it’s work or running the Carlsbad 5000, the world’s fastest 5k.
As Stephen Covey stated in his book The 7 Habbits of Highly Effective People, “knowledge is the theoretical paradigm, the what to do and the way. Skill is the how to do. And desire is the motivation, the want to do. In order to make something a habit in our lives, we have to have all three.” Love yourself enough to constantly put in the work to continue to grow better health habits. We are here to feed your knowledge and give you tools to practice, but it’s up to you to do whatever it takes, regardless of cost, to accomplish your goals. Use your knowledge, skill, and desire to make your goals a reality.
We hope you enjoyed today's discussion and look forward to you joining us next week as we continue on the journey of developing oursevles in mind, body, spirit, and overall functionality.
Blessings, Coach Adan Martinez