Here on the eve of Halloween, we’re about to launch into what many in natural health circles refer to as “sugar season,” the half of the year punctuated by holiday treats beginning with Halloween and ending with Easter.
While there might be little wrong with an occasional sweet indulgence, it’s easy enough to lose ourselves into sugar gluttony if we’re not mindful of how much we indulge. High-sugar diets are of course linked to weight gain, increased visceral fat, and type 2 diabetes, but also increased risk of heart disease, acne, cancer, depression, kidney disease, cognitive decline, gout, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are formed by consuming a diet high in refined carbs, damage collagen and elastin, leading to premature aging of the skin. Likewise, inside our bodies, high sugar diets accelerate the natural shortening of the telomeres in our chromosomes, triggering premature cellular aging. Excessive sugar consumption is also associated with resistance to the hunger-regulating hormone leptin, which tells our bodies to stop eating, leading to disruption of our natural understanding of hunger from a cellular level.
In products like Halloween candy, we may also encounter red dye 40 (a petroleum-derived additive which contains benzidine–a chemical known to cause stomach cancer, cyanosis, headaches, mental confusion, and nausea–and is also linked to ADHD and allergic reactions), high-fructose corn syrup, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in addition to sugar.
For all of the delicious shapes and moods that sugar season’s treats evoke, it’s really a minefield of toxic ingredients we’re wading through with each bite (especially when we missed the warning signs and didn’t get off the sugar train until we developed diabetes).
And I get it. When you’re surrounded by a culture that indulges in all of this stuff, normalizes excessive and impulsive consumption, and demonizes health conscious living, it takes an iron will to resist all of the time. It’s so much easier to just give in than it is to pick apart each and every ingredient and re-make everything you consume entirely by yourself.
I could tell you that giving in is okay. I could lie and say that everything is alright in moderation. I could parrot the nihilistic self-help industry’s cawing for self-care that amounts to little more than total, narcissistic self-indulgence, 24/7/365, consequences be damned.
But none of that would be kind. And none of that would be helpful. None of that would contribute to your growth as an individual or your self-actualization as someone beautiful and intentionally created for this world.
And none of that is what this blog is about.
You are free to live healthy. The string of sweet treats dished out before us from Halloween to Thanksgiving, to Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter amounts to little more than spending half of our lives depleting our bodies of our vitality and setting ourselves up for horrific health outcomes later in life.
That’s not how you have to live. There’s no universal law to the cosmos that you must indulge in a sugar season. There are pressures certainly. And there are layers of misinformation and ignorance we are all undoing to get to a healthier way of living.
But we each have the capacity to develop a muscle of resistance to sugared up culture. It starts with mindful awareness of what it is that we’re consuming and how it is affecting our bodies. It gets stronger with every healthier choice we make after that.
Eat like your body depends on your choices to live. Feed it like you care to see it live a long and healthy life.