by: Katie Robinson
Fall has rolled around again. Some people refer to it as back-to-school season, and others know it as football season. I think of it as the beginning of the five-month-long sugar season that runs from Halloween through Easter.
Sugar season officially begins on October 31. However, last year it started in early October. That’s when I purchased two bags of miniature Snickers bars and convinced myself that I had the willpower to store them in the pantry until Halloween night. That weekend I ended up consuming both bags while watching Netflix. By Sunday night I was bloated, nauseous, and had a lot of abdominal pain.
Clearly, I am not alone in my Halloween bingeing. Americans purchase 600 million pounds of candy for Halloween each year. It would take 158 trillion candy corns to equal 600 million pounds. If you are having trouble comprehending just how many candy corns that is, let’s just say that 158 trillion pennies stacked on top of each other would stretch to the moon and back 237 times (and candy corns are thicker than pennies)!
If I often ate this way, the long-term effects would be heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, acne, and tooth decay. But even the occasional binge, like my two bags of miniature Snickers, made me gain weight and feel terrible. Here’s why…
Sugar Season and Weight Gain
The body is a very efficient machine that uses glucose (blood sugar) for its fuel. Because a candy bar is such a simple carbohydrate, the digestive system breaks it down very quickly and floods the bloodstream with glucose. The body takes note of the large amount of sugar in the bloodstream, and the pancreas sends out a corresponding amount of insulin in an effort to keep blood sugar levels in check.
Insulin puts some of the glucose into the body’s cells where it’s converted to energy. Extra glucose that the cells don’t need is stored in the liver and muscles for later use. However, if the liver and muscles are full, insulin packs the rest of the glucose into fat cells. Unfortunately, there is no limit on the number of calories that the body can store as fat. So the more calories I eat, the more fat my body stores.
Every fun-sized Snickers bar has 80 calories. I bought two 10.5-ounce bags, each containing 24 Snickers. Those 48 Snickers multiplied by 80 calories equals 3,840 calories. My body only needs about 1,200 calories per day. All of those extra calories will be stored as fat unless I can burn them off. According to a trainer at my gym, that would require 2,400 burpees!
Sugar Season and Food Intolerances
Some people have sugar intolerance, also known as Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID), which means that they lack an enzyme necessary to break down sugar. Their symptoms – abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and gas –range from mild to severe. I am not sugar intolerant, but I am lactose (milk sugar) intolerant; and a lot of candy, including Snickers bars, contains lactose.
This candy season, however, I’m going to learn from my mistakes. When I go out to buy Halloween candy, I’m going to walk right past the Snickers bars and pick up two big bags of Atomic Fireballs. They only have 20 calories each, and it takes forever just to finish one. An added bonus is that the ingredient that makes them hot, capsicum, actually helps with symptoms like abdominal pain, gas, and diarrhea.
Now I just have to figure out what to do about Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter.
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