Avoiding sugar as sweets season begins

Published 11/19 2013 03:51PM

Updated 11/20 2013 11:08AM

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) - Halloween is long gone, but with Thanksgiving around the corner, the sweets season has just begun.

The average Utahn gains one to two pounds during the holidays.  On Thanksgiving alone, the average Utahn eats at least 45 hundred calories. The result is bad for your health.

While many rave over the turkey when it hits the table, it's often dessert you crave, but why?

"Our attraction to sweets dates back millions of years," Katherine Tallmadge said.  "Sweets were important.  Breast milk is sweet, fruits are sweet, and that ensured our survival." 

Tallmadge is a registered dietitian.  She said too many sweets can pack on the pounds and cause significant health risks.  One of those risks is diabetes.  Right now, the disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the beehive state and more than 135 thousand Utahns have it, some have no idea.

Another risk is heart disease.  The Utah Department of Health said one in four deaths in the state are related to the condition and sweets are often to blame.

"They light up the same pleasure centers of the brain that many addictive substances do," Tallmadge said.

So how do you cut back during the most wonderful time of the year?

First, eat throughout the day and start bright and early.

"Breakfast helps to kind of rev up the metabolism," Tallmadge said.  "It helps to jump start your body so that you can actually burn more calories during the day."

Second, get exercise to stay on track.

Third, eat well balanced meals.

Tallmadge said, "You want to focus on foods that are naturally low in fat and high in fiber."

Then, top it off with fruit.  Fruit has natural sugars that often satisfy a sweet tooth.

Finally, doctors recommend getting some sun.  Sunlight produces serotonin in the brain, a feel good chemical that prevents cravings.

Experts don't recommend completely cutting sweets to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Doctors simply want you to limit sweets to one day a week or less than 10 percent of your daily intake. That means if you eat the average Thanksgiving dinner, you can eat up to one and a half pieces of pumpkin pie on turkey day next week.

Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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