Why the Scariest Part of Halloween May Be Sugar, Candy, and Cravings
7 minute read
For many people, the thought of Halloween brings up more than costumes and scary movies—Halloween is also overflowing with candy consumption. We buy bags of candy to hand out, but often end up snacking on it, and there is always a bowl or two of candy around the office.
In fact, it would be fair to say that this Halloween a scary amount of candy is going to be eaten. Learning how this happens, and how to avoid overindulgence, is an important start to a healthier holiday season.
The Real Halloween Scare
Candy consumption increases around Halloween for almost every child and half of the adult population. You have seen the dedicated aisle at every grocery store for Halloween candy.
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For at least a month before the holiday is here, that aisle is always stocked full of every candy you can imagine. And this is the case for every store you go to. The day before Halloween, the shelves are as empty as a graveyard.
Now, think back to how much candy occupied the shelves over that period of time and grasp just how much candy was purchased and consumed. With it being so easily accessible, it is no wonder we eat more candy then we intend.
With Halloween offering bite-sized versions of you favorites, it is way too easy to overload. The temptation lies in the fact that it seems like you are not eating too much because the servings are as small.
The scary part is that you end up craving more; the next thing you know, several bite-sized treats have made their way into your stomach. The good news is that even in the face of all this temptation, you can avoid overdoing it on the sugar.
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Before trick-or-treating, make sure you and the kids eat a balanced and healthy meal. In addition to this, have your kids pick out their favorites from their Halloween haul and give the rest away. The quicker you get the unnecessary sugar out of the house, the quicker you can get back to healthy living.
When Sugar Gets Scary
As candy consumption increases during the Halloween season, so does the risk of serious health problems. Sugar may be sweet and taste good, but that doesn’t mean it is good for you. In moderation a sweet treat or candy bar is fine, but the overload frequently associated with Halloween is enough to scare any health professional.
Halloween may only come once a year, but giving into candy temptations can get you hooked on bad eating habits all year long. Here are some of the negative consequences too much sugar can have on your health.
Too much sugar from candy, sodas, processed foods, and even juices can cause resistance to the hormone leptin. This hormone is responsible for controlling hunger. Without it, you end up overeating.
The result of overeating is weight gain, especially when the foods you are overeating are packed full of fats and sugars.
Excessive sugar consumption has been linked to increased risk for heart disease. Too much sugar in your system triggers inflammation, increases blood pressure, and elevates blood glucose levels, all of which contribute to heart disease.
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With the threat of heart disease lurking every Halloween, it is advised to find healthier treats and to limit the amount of candy in your house.
Along with heart disease, the main health concern associated with too much sugar is diabetes. The condition is marked by unhealthy blood sugar levels, so obviously sugar plays a big role.
Excessive sugar consumption causes resistance to insulin, the hormone you need to control blood sugar levels, and without this your risk for diabetes increases. The weight gain associated with too much sugar also contributes to the development of diabetes.
The combined effects of increased blood pressure, insulin resistance, inflammation, and weight gain all increase your risk for cancer. While studies continue to discover the link between sugar consumption and risk of certain cancers, many have begun to point at the idea that this is real and not just a scare tactic.
Speeds Up Aging
Reactions between sugars and proteins cause the formation of AGEs, which are compounds known to damage collagen and elastin. The result of eating too much sugar is that your skin ages quicker and you lose your youthful glow.
Sugar also causes aging at a cellular level, in that too much can cause chromosomes to shorten and thereby contribute to cellular aging.
Just as a healthy diet has been linked to boosting your mood, a diet full of sugar can have the opposite effect. Research has found that increased sugar intake is linked to increased risk for depression.
It is believed that excessive sugar in your system causes spikes and crashes, which trigger inflammation and interference with neurotransmitter function. The result is mental dysfunction and a risk for mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
Sugar likes to trick you into thinking it energizes you. The elevation in blood glucose does give a burst of energy, but it also leaves you craving more.
However, as the sugar is removed from your blood, you experience crashes. The constant flux between spikes and crashes drains you of energy. The best way to avoid crashes is to pair sugars with proteins, and Halloween candy is not known for its protein content.
The Bottom Line
You may not be able to control what the stores do or how many bowls of candy are laid out in the office, but you can control what you eat. By finding healthy alternatives, you can keep yourself full and away from too much candy.
Limit the sugar you and your loved ones consume and let the only scares this Halloween come from the ghosts, goblins, and witches.