The warm breezes of spring mean that Easter is around the corner! After the heavy colors of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day, the bright, cheerful colors of spring are a welcome sight. But the cheerful colors are not limited to flowers and eggs. There is no escaping the onslaught of sugar that threatens us at every turn. From jelly beans to chocolate bunnies, empty calories abound. You need a plan.
First, the facts
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you really do need to know what you are getting yourself into when you reach for that fluffy, yellow peep. Brace yourself, this is going to hurt…Sugar is really bad for you.
When you consume Easter candy, you are getting a large dose of sugar. Whether it is in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup or cane sugar, it slams into your system like a bowling ball, and the effects are disastrous.
Within the first 20 minutes or so, your blood sugar level spike as the sugar enters your bloodstream. It arrives there in the form of glucose, which is your body’s main source of energy. This sudden rise in blood glucose stimulates your pancreas to start pumping out large amounts of insulin, which is the hormone that helps your cells take in the available glucose. Some of this glucose is used immediately for energy. But the rest is stored as fat by insulin, to be used later.
The more sugar you eat, the more insulin your body produces as it works hard to remove the glucose from your blood. But these high levels of insulin are not healthy. For one thing, the extra insulin in your blood stream signals to your body that you need more glucose, which causes you to crave even more sugar. But even worse, after repeated exposure to high insulin levels, your cells begin turning numb to the effects of insulin, and this leads to a condition called insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. When your cells no longer respond properly to the storage effects of insulin, the sugar in your blood has nowhere to go, and so it continues circulating in your blood. This is what is known as a ‘high blood sugar level.’
The result is that you feel fatigue, because you have no way of accessing the energy that is in your blood stream. You will likely feel weak, tired and have trouble concentrating, because your brain uses glucose to function.
If your blood sugar levels stay elevated, damage begins happening to various parts of your body. For example, the capillaries become damaged (which leads to blindness), your kidneys become diseased (which can eventually require dialysis) and nerve damage occurs throughout your body (which can lead to amputations). The heart muscle also suffers, which leads to heart disease, and your organs begin aging at a faster rate. You also become more susceptible to infections.
The ravages of sugar cannot be overstated: that handful of jelly beans is not worth it.
But it’s Easter!
Easter only comes once each year. Do you really have to be so uptight about it?
Yes, you do. Because there will always be an excuse to eat poorly. Last month it was Valentine’s Day. The month before that saw New Year’s Eve. Before that was Christmas. Before that was Thanksgiving.
And the holidays in each of these moths weren’t the only excuses for eating unhealthy food – no doubt your schedule included countless other “can’t-miss” opportunities to throw all caution to the wind! You likely had business dinners, birthday parties, evenings out with your friends, fundraising banquets, breakfast meetings, church dinners…
Every one of these occasions screams, “But this is special!! It’s okay just this once!”
At some point, you have to stop the insanity, make a decision and choose health, so that the indulgence truly becomes the exception; not the rule.
So let’s look at some alternatives for your Easter celebration. You do not have to sit there munching on steamed asparagus while those around you are tossing back marshmallow ducklings by the dozen.
Consider the following ideas for Easter basket treats and munchies. Sticking to this list will ensure that you are clear headed and full of energy while your buddies are slipping in and out of consciousness after their sugar highs!
- Dried fruit (eat with a protein such as nuts)
- Very dark chocolate (choose some with very little sugar)
- Fresh fruit
- Whole grain crackers and pretzels
Non-food ideas for kids’ baskets:
- Play dough
- Jump rope
- Sidewalk chalk
- Garden starter set
- Butterfly habitat
- Beading supplies
- Swimming toys
- Card games
Have a healthy Easter!