In an attempt to help you all reduce your stress levels through the holidays this year, I'm offering a few tips based on some general principles that I have become aware of through my training as a health professional.
Today's tip is one that nobody is going to like, but EVERYONE can benefit from:
Reduce your sugar intake.
Simple! Or is it?
While it seems like a good idea all around, and we all know that skipping the doughnut with the coffee is always a good idea; however, it's a little more complicated than just throwing out the baked goods and candies. Take a good look at the ingredients of some of the processed foods in your pantry and fridge. And yes, they do sell "processed" foods at Whole Foods. And a lot of processed foods have added sugar in varying forms. Also, most "low fat" or "light" foods like salad dressings have added sugars, often in the form of high fructose corn syrup, etc. And while I hate to admit it, sugar is sugar, and whether it's organic cane sugar, agave syrup, or high fructose corn syryp, it's still empty of any nutritional value. So no, not all sugars are created equal, but they are all still bad for you in excess.
I read on WebMD (so it must be true) that the average American eats 22 teaspoons of sugar a day! That's the equivalent of about 355 empty calories. The article also said that the average female shouldn't exceed 6 teaspoons or about 100 calories of sugar and that the average man shouldn't exceed 9 teaspoons or about 150 calories.
In essence, cortisol, the stress hormone increses blood glucose by tapping into protein sources via gluconogenesis in the liver...so when we're stressed out, our blood sugar goes up on it's own, without the added sugar... So when we're stressed out AND we eat a whole pie by ourselves, because that's what we do, it adds fuel to the fire. That little sugar high we get for five minutes really wreaks havoc on our homeostasis. We know this because we crash after. So think of eating sugar as consuming stress. It's like we just invite it into our bodies. And while there probably isn't a whole lot you can do about the stressful events of your day, or the holidays, you can do something about what you put in your mouth. So in essence, you can reduce your stress by eating less sugar.
A few helpful tips:
Throw it away: Go through your pantry and get rid of stuff that has the added sugar in the form of cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, . I actually found a can of BEANS that had sugar added. Ew. Why do beans need sugar? Anyway, if you can part with the added sugars to everyday processed foods, you're halfway there. Here's a helpful article to help identify the "hidden" sugars in processed foods. http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/whattoeat/a/sugars.htm
Make your own salad dressing with olive oil, red wine vinegar (or vinegar of your choice) and dijon mustard. I like to play around with ratios depending on how flavorful I'm feeling. Use more oil for less flavor and more mustard for more. Sometimes I just do plain old olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon. It actually tastes better to me than bottled salad dressing. I honestly can't even face most bottled salad dressings anymore. Cold olive oil suplies the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids that everyone is talking about and since you're not going to eat that piece of cake, you should absolutely indulge in a little bit of healthy fat.
Visit chocolatecoveredkatie.com : Katie has amazing healthier dessert recipies with vegan and gluten free options. It takes a little preparation and possibly purchasing of healthier ingredients, but if you just can't let go of that after dinner sweet, at least 1. make it yourself with healthier ingredients and 2. indulge without the guilt and the stress. :)