Is sugar undermining your healthy Holiday Season?

Is Sugar Undermining Your Healthy Holiday Season?By Sarah Mastriani-Levi | One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves, to stay healthy during the holiday season, is to bring authentic awareness to the amount of sugar that we are mindlessly consuming. Sugar is hiding in nearly every processed food that we consume, even those which are labeled as “Natural” or “Lite”. Sugars are also hidden in many processed savory foods, either as an ingredient, flavoring or preservative.

Often we consume foods over the holidays that are “traditional”, as if there is a moral obligation to continue eating something that has been proven to harm our bodies. Many of the “traditional” foods we consume are far removed from the traditional recipes now laden with ingredients that are unpronounceable and quite definitively were not available in any of our grandmother’s kitchens.

The only way we can begin to reduce our sugar intake is to be cognizant of where it is hiding. Frequently it is obvious, as in the packets of sugar that we add to our coffee. However, most frequently, it is hidden under the sneaky guise of other sugar nicknames like: white sugar, simple syrup, brown sugar, raw sugar, pancake syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup, cane sugar, cane crystals, fruit juice concentrates, molasses, malt syrup, maple syrup. Other types of sugar you might commonly see on ingredient lists are fructose (sugar from fruits and vegetables), lactose (sugar that is naturally occurring in dairy) and maltose (sugar from grains).

Ironically, our body also creates an insulin response to pseudo sugars (think “diet” or “sugar- free” versions) that matches the physical stress and creates fat reservoirs in much the same way as regular sugars. Often people will allow themselves to have more of a diet soda or sugar- free dessert, naively thinking that they are choosing the healthier version. These pseudo sugars not only elevate insulin response, they also fill the body with chemical structures that it does not know how to recognize (many of which have been directly linked to hormonal disruption and chronic disease). Steer clear from “Sugar-Free” snacks and products. In many ways they can be equally if not more dangerous than their sugary counterparts.

Many savory snacks are processed in such a way that includes one or more of the many above names of sugars. Blindly eating large amounts of salty snacks usually loads the body up with simple carbs causing a very similar reaction sugar creates, as described above.

Remember that if you are craving sweets, it is your body’s distant cry for vitamins.

Craving salty is indicative of a mineral deficiency. These deficiencies can be corrected over time by eating fresh foods, rich in trace minerals and vitamins. The sugars that are naturally occurring in many fruits and vegetables are far safer as their glycemic load is mild and our bodies know how to recognize and digest them. They come complete with all of the fiber necessary for easy and healthy digestion. In their natural state there is a slower release of fructose and the insulin response is far less, thereby causing less stress and fatigue on our bodies (something we need less of all of the time and especially during the holidays).

The secret to beating this cycle of unhealthy processed foods is to constantly surround yourself with pure, organic, whole foods. By consistently feeding your body pure foods cravings decrease over time. Crowd out your desire for sweets by filling up on beautiful, whole fruits and veggies instead.

Meet me back here at Eat Sleep Play Beaufort’s column “Nutrition for the Soul” for much more on how you can navigate the holidays in the healthiest way possible.


Sarah Mastriani-Levi is a Holistic Health Coach and Personal Chef with over 20 years experience in the health and wellness industry. She is an International Best Selling Author and sought after lecturer, speaking internationally to audiences from the health-curious to the avidly health-conscious.

Read more about Sarah’s work at