Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love. It’s a time to strengthen your intimate relationships, do something nice for your special someone, and maybe show your family and friends some appreciation, too. It’s a time for relationships to grow.
But there’s one Valentine’s Day breakup you may want to consider: your bond with sugar. When you cut back on sugar, you can feel better, look better, and even be freer to explore other relationships. Here’s why and how.
Why Break Up with Sugar?
“Honey, does this sugar make me look fatigued?” Well, yes, it does, actually. Refined sugars – found in cookies, chips, candy and other common snacks — spike our blood sugar, leading to the dreaded drop later on. This can lead to a need to get that buzz back, so we eat more sugar, which perpetuates the cycle.
You can test this theory yourself over the next couple of hours. Sugar leads to blood sugar spikes that you may feel as a sudden burst of energy. The trouble comes when your body’s insulin response kicks in and overcompensates to lower your blood sugar levels. Within an hour or so after you eat a high-sugar snack or meal, you can feel tired or foggy-headed because of low blood sugar levels. You may think this is normal, but it’s not.
Maintaining steady energy all day is a good enough reason to break up with sugar on the spot, but there are plenty of other reasons to call it quits. According to Mayo Clinic, people who eat more sugar are at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, and tooth decay. According to recent research, sugar consumption may even be linked to cancer. The World Health Organization recently lowered its recommendations for daily sugar consumption because of its dangers.
Chocolate for the Heart: Know the Best Sweet Substitutes
Don’t be fooled. Cutting back on refined sugar may be tougher than you think.
This is because the stuff is literally addictive. It affects the same parts of the brain as addictive drugs like opioids. One strategy for cutting back is to choose more nutritious sweets, such as dark chocolate and cacao.
Cacao is a great option that comes packed with healthy benefits. Loaded with minerals like Magnesium and heart-healthy fats, cacao is a raw chocolate alternative that you can add to your favorite recipes and is sure to please.
When you eat dark chocolate with healthy foods such as nuts, you can satisfy your sweet craving while preventing blood sugar spikes. This can keep you from being hungry again for hours. Bars such as Dark Chocolate Hazelnut or Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Zing Bars are organic, vegan options. Ghirardelli, Godiva, and Lindt all have versions of dark chocolate with high percentages of cocoa.
You’ll not only be cutting back on sugar, but also be supporting heart health. University of Michigan explains that dark chocolate has antioxidant polyphenols known as flavonoids. Eating chocolate regularly can lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and risk for blood clots. It can also improve your mood.
Gifts That Say “I Love You”
Now back to Valentine’s Day. A box of milk chocolate truffles or other candy may be traditional on Valentine’s Day, but it may not be the best way to say, “I love you.” You can find gifts that are far more unique to show your special someone how much you care. Plus, you can find a gift that won’t leave the recipient feeling sluggish or bloated.
Here are a few gifts that will show you truly care about your sweetie’s health and wellbeing:
- Fruit displays with fresh seasonal fruit
- Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate
- Peanut or almond butter, quinoa, and dark chocolate truffles instead frosted chocolate cupcakes
- Cacao heart-shaped cookies
- Homemade trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, coconut, and dark chocolate pieces
When you break up with sugar, you can feel the benefits nearly immediately in terms of more stable energy and better alertness. When you and your partner cut back on the sugar-laden fare this Valentine’s Day, you just may find that the romantic feelings last a lot longer into the night! Enjoy!
Weigh in on the sugar debate — do you agree with the research or do you think it should be taken with a grain of salt?