I was listening to the news today and I heard a report from Unilever. They are a large company that sells everything from food to personal care products. Their brands include household names like Knorr, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and Hellman’s Mayo. They also sell Dove soap, deodorant and other products we use in our homes.
Interestingly, since the pandemic, sales in deodorant and soap are down but sales in ice cream are up!
So, we are not showering as much but we are eating more sweet treats.
I have heard my friends and clients complain about the Quarantine Fifteen. The good news is people are getting in their kitchens and eating at home more. The bad news is, some of the choices are not necessarily the healthiest. While it’s amusing that ice cream sales are up, it is also a bit concerning because it means people are eating more sugar. It’s a comfort food, I get it, but it also impacts our health in a big way.
I do want to explain a little about what happens when we indulge in too much sugar.
- Research shows that sugar is addictive. The more we eat, the more we want to eat. Have you noticed your ice cream servings sizes increasing over the past few months?
- Sugar sneaks into your foods in ways you may not realize. Diet foods, packaged fruit, juices, dressings and sauces, even savory foods like frozen pizzas!
- Reading labels takes some education. Manufacturers call sugar by many different names including maltodextrin, turbinado, beet sugar, high fructose corn syrup, lactose, and on and on.
- Sugar breaks down into either glucose or fructose. Fructose, when found in fruits, is combined with fiber and water which slows down the impact on our liver and accumulation of fat. However, if sugar is just by itself, it creates a heavy load that our body converts quickly to fat. If you are noticing that “muffin top” around your middle, that is an indication of too much of this sugar.
- Eating too much of the wrong kind of sugar can impact your appetite and hunger. We have two hormones that help us with hunger and satiety. Ghrelin tells us we’re hungry, leptin that we are full. When we eat a lot of sugar, our insulin stays high. Our body can’t “hear” leptin telling us we’re full. Notice how you can eat dessert after a large meal? If your brain ignores the signals from leptin, you will keep eating, even if you are full.
- Sugar can increase your risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms that include excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides.
- Sugar creates increased systemic inflammation-a foundation for all illness and disease.
One more thing to note: All of these health problems i.e. diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and inflammation all lower our immune system’s ability to function. They put us at risk for illness and disease. At a time when we are all worrying about wearing masks and social distancing, taking care of ourselves needs to be paramount. We need to have all the body armor we can muster!
Don’t fret, there are ways to eat sweet foods and stay healthy. If you’d like support in evaluating what you are eating and tips on shedding your Quarantine Fifteen, give me a call, I am happy to help!
Resources: Virgin, J. (2014). Sugar Impact Diet: Hachette Book Group.