Sugar: what it will do, why you want more of it and how to avoid it

  • This is the scenario. Someone has brought in a plate of double-trouble death by chocolate cake and you take a slice. Seemed rude not to.
  • After you’ve eaten it, your pancreas produces insulin to dive down the sudden surge of sugar in the blood. This insulin sweeps up all the sugar and packs it off to the body’s cells to be metabolised for energy and stored for later use.
  • Insulin’s job doesn’t stop there. It also kicks the backside out of some enzymes which suddenly wake up and smooth the way for fat to enter the fat cells, where it promptly snuggles down, gets comfy, put a Christmas hat and and looks good for the duration.
  • Insulin will then ‘fix’ that fat into those cells by converting the aforementioned sugar into glycerol.
  • Just round the corner are some other festive enzymes trying frantically to do their job of breaking down the fat but alas no. Insulin is a bully, has bigger biceps and so won’t let the fat escape.
  • In short, insulin is fattening. Sugar is fattening. Good fats aren’t fattening. Sugar is.
  • And it is a white powder. It is a drug. You have a taste. You then want more. There is a switch in your brain which regulates appetite and hunger. This switch is powered by the hormone ‘leptin’. Too much sugar causes the levels of Leptin to go totally pear-shaped.

So what am I to do, when faced with a mountain of delicious looking Christmassy canapés?

Go for the more protein-y ones. You know, with minimum white powder (meaning sugar and white flour). Salmon and creme fraiche on small squares of dark rye bread is good, a piece of chorizo with a sun-dried tomato skewered in the top or a roll of parma ham deliciously enveloping a gherkin and a piece of brie. Or even a handful of mixed roasted nuts. Step away from the jumbo honey coated cashews obviously… that’s just protein masquerading as something good for you.

When everyone else is tucking into Christmas cake and mince pies, I don’t want to sit there chewing wasps… what can I eat that isn’t going to do too much damage?

  • An oat cake with a dollop of almond butter and a chunk of banana on top.
  • Dates dipped in some good dark chocolate.
  • A wedge of lovely cheese and half a sweet apple.
  • Some oven-roasted nuts (spray normal mixed nuts with a little olive oil, sprinkle with smoked paprika and salt and bung in the oven for 15 mins).
  • Or have nothing. Why do you have to have something? Are you really hungry or are you just going with the crowd?

Think long and hard. Try not to get to January totally out of shape and looking back on Christmas with regret.

Annie x

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