I promised myself that I wouldn’t feel guilty about the past. Though, there’s still no denying it. What I ate and drank at my first “big girl” desk job could’ve had a detrimental impact on my health.
For starters, my coffee ratio was 70/30 (powdered creamer to coffee), followed by a heavy pour of caramel sauce, and three packets of Sweet ‘N Low. Daily refill trips to the coffee machine were almost a given.
My food decisions weren’t much better. Our sales team would bring in what seemed like a revolving door of doughnuts, chocolate eclairs, and muffins. The treats were hard to pass up and mini fridges full of soda seemed to be strategically located at every corner of the office. Chances are you’re currently going through or at least understand this food-forward mentality in the workplace.
At the time, I blamed my fatigue and snack cravings on the long hours of being sedentary. Yet, becoming certified as a Culinary Nutrition Expert has taught me otherwise. Especially about the various ways our bodies can react to sugar.
If the caffeine was supposed to give me a jolt, why was I feeling lethargic? What was causing me to become abnormally hungry throughout the work week? These signs didn’t add up and my doctor just told me I was lucky to have a fast metabolism.
Now I can confirm that my suspicions weren’t off.
Everything we eat has the opportunity to be nutritious. While tasty, the sugar and empty calories found in pastries, diet sodas, and coffee drinks aren’t going to keep us fueled or satiated. Here’s why:
- When our days consist of sugar, carbohydrates, and more sugar, there’s a slim chance that we’ll be fully nourished with our dietary needs, by the time our head hits the pillow. Research also suggests that the absence of fiber and micronutrients in carb-heavy or high glycemic meals have adverse health effects, especially for women.
- An overconsumption of sugar impairs our control over food intake/our ability to stop eating.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), a common sugar additive in diet soda, is made up of 42-55% fructose. Fructose is connected to blood sugar irregularities including insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity.
- You won’t find the necessary dietary requirements of fiber, protein, and fat in an overly sweet coffee drink. Although, the high amounts of caffeine and resulting fluctuations in blood glucose levels suppresses your hunger so that you won’t even want to fuel yourself with all of the above.
- Sugar is perceived to have an addictive quality on its own and the heightened sweetness in artificial flavorings encourages us to choose heavily sweet foods, while often overlooking nutrient-dense ingredients.
We clearly have a choice when it comes to eating for health. That’s not to say you should be calorie counting or embarking on a new juice cleanse every week. However, there’s a noticeable pattern in regards to the negative effects of sugar.
But avoiding sugar entirely isn’t the easiest solution and I completely understand this logic.
Maybe it’s trying your own handle on baking with natural sweeteners (i.e. Raw honey, maple syrup, and Stevia). I’m currently testing this myself and having a blast with it. Processed baked goods and outrageously rich coffee drinks are no longer a part of my routine either. That’s because over the course of nine years, I’ve decided what does and doesn’t fit onto my own list of dietary standards.
Reflecting on the progress I’ve built towards creating a healthier relationship with food only motivates me to keep going down this path. I hope you’ll consider this anecdote as encouragement to do the same.