January 20, 2022

Now that the holidays are over, it’s time for a sugar reset

Sarah Bullock/staff reporter

Dr. Nicole Villapiano says this is the perfect time to “sugar detox.” The holidays are over, and so is the great temptation to gorge on cookies, candies and other sweet treats.

The sugar-plum fairy is fantastic in the Nutcracker, but in real life too much sugar is anything but sweet: causing inflammation, increasing blood pressure and adding pounds.

After the holidays is the perfect time to “sugar detox,” said Dr. Nicole Villapiano, with the Cortland County Health Board. “I do this every year after Christmas.”

Jeff Fitts, a Cortland police officer and union president, is cutting sugar out, too.

“I plan on cutting it out of my coffee and no cookies, no pastries, no ice cream. Cold turkey,” Fitts said. “I might allow one cheat day a month, for like an apple pie slice.”

In Cortland County, 70% of residents are overweight or obese, according to the state Health Department. “I really do talk to my patients about this all the time,” Villapiano said.

“Excess sugar’s impact on obesity and diabetes is well documented, but one area that may surprise many men is how their taste for sugar can have a serious impact on their heart health,” said Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a news release. “The effects of added sugar intake — higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.”

“I know I am addicted to sugar because I can’t stop even after it makes me sick,” said Christopher Simser, Cortland County chief assistant district attorney and Fitts’ running partner. Reeses peanut butter Christmas trees are a particular weakness, but now he’s restarting with cutting out refined sugars, weighing himself every day and logging his food.

“It’s slow, consistent actions,” Simser said. “The single most important thing to anything, other than starting, is continuing.”

Before giving up and reaching for a leftover cookie, remember: It’s possible to restart and make progress, Villapiano said.

“I would encourage your readers to set a goal,” she said. But it needs to be a S.M.A.R.T. goal, she said: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.

Lots of goals are flimsy, Villapiano said. They are too general: like “lose weight,” or “cut out sugar.” Instead of that, say “By the end of six weeks, I’m going to limit my soda and juice intake to one a week.”

That goal is specific and measurable, she said. It’s also do-able.

“The losing 100 pounds in six weeks is kind of a silly goal,” Villapiano said. “Is there a way to break it down into baby steps?”

Deadlines are also important, she said. “There should be an end date that you hold yourself accountable to.”

Once a goal is set, moving early in the morning and eating a healthy breakfast will create a sense of accomplishment and provide motivation, she said.

“First thing in the morning, get moving,” Viillapiano said. Dance to music. Walk. Do yoga to a YouTube video.

And don’t forget a healthy breakfast. “Your body will feel good when you give it good food,” Villapiano said.

Importantly, tell someone your goal and try to get your household on board, she said.

“My husband and I, every year, do a plan like this,” Villapiano said. Working together makes it easier to do than dieting alone.

“You’re probably going to slip up at some point,” she said. But that’s just an opportunity to reset and refocus. “Don’t let it completely derail your progress.”