The 4-step fad-free post-Halloween-candy detox
“Trick or treat?” is phrased as a question, but most of us “treat” with impunity: it’s easy to overdo it on candy at this time of year.
Our bodies have the ability to manage sugar in moderation. The associated problems — obesity, metabolic syndrome, tooth decay — arise when we consume too much of it.
But if you scoff a few too many fun-sized Mars bars this week, don’t give up hope. Just follow these four tips from Concordia’s diet experts.
1) Know what you're eating
“Not all sugar is bad. We have to look at the package it’s coming in,” says Gabriella Szabo, the university’s health promotion specialist.
For instance, one snack-sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup contains eight grams of sugar. It also has 90 calories, five grams of fat, 60 miligrams of sodium and two grams of protein.
An orange, on the other hand, has 12.2 grams of sugar — along with 62 calories, 0.2 grams of fat, one gram of protein and 116 per cent of the recommended daily vitamin C intake.
Oranges contain more sugar than candy, but they also boast a lot of other nutrients. “When I eat a candy bar, I get a whole lot of sugar but not much protein, vitamins, minerals or potassium,” says Szabo. “These are things the body needs.”
Sweet treats are always going to be high in sugar and fat, but what matters most is how often and how much of them you eat.
2) Get off the couch
The best way to stop yourself from turning into a sugar zombie is to get up and do something.
Thea Demmers, a dietitian and the coordinator of the nutrition suite at Concordia’s PERFORM Centre, says our body manages insulin more efficiently when we exercise. “Physical activity effects our response to insulin. It makes our body use insulin better.”
Demmers also says sugar is not the only dietary culprit. Essentially, when people consume more calories than they use, the body stores the energy in the most efficient way it knows — as fat.
3) Eat regular meals
According to Demmers, a consistent meal schedule supplemented by nutritious snacks works no matter what the season: it’s as an excellent way to avoid becoming too hungry and binging on junk food.
“I would also recommend keeping a balance and variety in your diet and making sure you have colourful meals,” she adds. “That’s been shown to help provide us with a variety of vitamins and minerals as well.”
By the way — when she says “colourful,” Demmers isn’t talking about Gobstoppers and Astro Pops. Instead of chowing down on an apple-flavoured gumball, go for the real thing.
4) Don’t succumb to fad diets and detoxes
On a day-to-day basis, Demmers recommends drinking water regularly and carrying healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, vegetables or yogurt.
Both Demmers and Szabo warn against fad diets and detoxes, describing them as expensive and unnecessary.
“Don’t put effort or money or time into detox programs,” says Szabo. “Do what successful changers do: they set a smart goal, build commitment and track their progress.”