Don’t drink your sugar
Two weeks ago I promised myself I would write three columns ahead of time so I could switch off on holiday.
Fast forward to this moment … it’s the night before we fly, I’ve a full clinic of clients in the morning, I haven’t packed a thing (not even a single sock), there’s three loads of laundry to be done, we need to clean out the fish …. It’s not the serene pre-holiday moment that I planned but, when I think about it. I’m actually not sure I’ve ever had that moment.
That’s probably what makes a holiday so amazing – the huge exhale you do on the plane (through your mask, obviously) as you realise you finally made it.
Going away this time has an extra layer of madness to it because of all the Covid protocol. There’s the preflight tests, the passenger locator forms, the tests to organise on the other side …. Is it worth it? Yes, I haven’t seen my dad or my brother in two years – there’s a lot of catching up to do! I know I mentioned this last week … can you tell I’m excited?!
The kids are excited too; beside themselves is more accurate. They have packing lists, outfits planned and are currently wide-awake in their beds chatting about the upcoming adventure. I’m a little nervous about the sugar rush that waits for them on the other side – two sets of grandparents and the holiday-treat mentality. Ah well, it is what it is!
I have just reminded myself that it’s what we do most of the time that matters. I don’t want to say “no” all the time, I just want to say yes … but when we’re surrounded by junk it’s a tricky balance to find. If you’re in the same boat and if you find that the treats are really stacking up, then here are a few tips on balancing the sugar with healthy habits:
1. Be realistic about how often you are indulging
Ok, we all want to have treats when we’re away but be honest with yourself about how much you are indulging. If it’s cookies for a snack, an ice cream on an outing, a juice box on a car ride and dessert at dinner, that really adds up. It’s not just a problem for people who are overweight either. No matter what your size (although weight gain is a compounding risk factor), eating too much sugar stresses out your pancreas and your insulin response. That’s not good news long-term when it comes to prevention of Type 2 diabetes. How can you be more moderate? Try one sweet thing a day … max. Choose the cookies or the ice cream, not both. Combine that with the steps below and lots of exercise and you’ll be in a much better position.
2. Get your portions right
I know it sounds boring but portion sizing really is key. If you get portions right three times a day, every day, then you do a huge amount of damage limitation. As a general rule of thumb, imagine that your lunch and dinner plates are divided into quarters. Aim for ¼ carbs, ¼ protein and ½ non-starchy greens. For example, brown rice (carbs) with chicken (protein) and broccoli and zucchini (both are non-starchy).
3. Make sure you don’t double up on carbs
This is where I see so many people go wrong. We forget that corn, carrots, fruit, beans, lentils, pumpkin, butternut squash etc are all carbs too. If you have something like rice, potatoes or pasta with dinner, you shouldn’t have corn or carrots as a vegetable. Growing up we regularly had potatoes with dinner, carrots as a veg and fruit for dessert – that’s triple carbs (yikes)! I’m not saying don’t have corn, carrots, fruit – but when you do, they should be your carb portion.
4. Fill up on veg
It’s easier to keep carbs under control if you are eating the right portions of vegetables. Not only is the fibre filling, but they are packed with antioxidants that help prevent premature ageing and boost your immune system. In terms of “it’s what you do most of the time that matters” this really is a big deal. And did you know, the more vegetables you eat, the lower your risk of colon and bowel cancers? That’s a great added bonus.
5. Don’t drink your sugar
This is probably the number one dietary faux pas. Sugary drinks are just a disaster for your health and it’s best to keep them to a rare occurrence. It’s not unusual for your iced tea, soda or fruit punch to have over 20 teaspoons of sugar. To figure out the sugar content in teaspoons, look at the total “sugars”, multiply it by any relevant serving size and then divide your total sugars number by 4. For example, if a drink has 30g sugars per serving, but the reality is that you will drink two servings, then your total sugars is 60g. Divide 60g by 4 and you get 15 teaspoons. As an adult you should be having no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar (24g) a day. It’s scary how quickly that adds up.
Catherine Burns is a qualified nutritional therapist. For more details: www.natural.bm, 505-4725, Natural Nutrition Bermuda on Facebook and @naturalbda on Instagram