Coming to terms with your diet

Would you like to have more energy and better overall health? At the cusp of the new year, many of us come to terms with old habits that no longer serve us and set new goals for our well-being. Consider making one of those resolutions reducing or eliminating those sweet things that do some not-so-sweet things to your body: sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners.

When discussing diet with my clients, I often hear phrases like “I only have one per day” or, “I only have one per week.” This concerns me, because evidence suggests that consuming even small quantities of low-quality foods and drinks, such as sweetened beverages, is enough to have a significant deleterious impact on one’s health.

I recently came across a study from the Harvard School of Public Health that found that drinking one to two sweetened drinks (fruit drinks, iced tea, energy and vitamin water drinks) per day increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26 percent.

Diet drinks not a panacea

If you’re thinking, “I’m okay because I drink diet soda,” think again. There was a 25-year-long epidemiological study done at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio that showed the more diet sodas a person drinks, the greater the chance that he or she will become overweight or obese: “On average, for each diet soft drink our participants drank per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years, and 41 percent more likely to become obese.”

This discussion isn’t only about weight gain; it’s really about overall health. People suffering from fatigue, chronic headaches, muscle aches, skin issues, depression, and dizziness should seriously consider examining what they are consuming and, more importantly, abandoning their daily doses of sugar, high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.

Avoid dropping below the baseline

There are people who seem to be able to tolerate potentially harmful habits, and then there are those who can’t seem to tolerate the tiniest little digression. Some of this comes down to constitution, but here’s another way to think about it.

Imagine that you begin with a certain amount of energy to go about your life, which includes the ability to tolerate stressors of all kinds. As you live your life, stressors (high-pressure job, little sleep, poor diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, etc.) deduct from that baseline amount of energy. If you aren’t doing things to replenish your energy, such as getting sufficient rest and exercise and eating nutritious foods, your gauge will likely drop below “empty.” 

That’s when negative symptoms start to pop up, especially as you get older. When you are young, you may tolerate and recover faster from the effects of more caffeine, more sugar, more alcohol, less sleep, more stress. As you age, this threshold drops off, and you require more recovery time and healthier habits.

Please consider starting the year off right by treating yourself to healthier food choices. Following an adjustment period, you will begin to feel better, have more energy, and be glad to turn away from those sweet nothings. If you have questions, I’m happy to talk to you at your next appointment.