It’s no secret that sugar and alcohol are bad for our health. Australians are eating close to six times the recommended amount of sugar a day and 10 litres of alcohol, which is the equivalent of 25 bottles of vodka per year! Jessica Sepel talks to Sporteluxe about why it’s so important to take a break, and why February is the time to do it.
5 reasons you should cut out sugar and alcohol this February
#1 It’s important to put your long term health first
Health is a lifestyle, not a fad. Do it for yourself, and because it’s important to prioritise your long term health goals. This February, Australians will be taking the febfast challenge together to pause their sugar and alcohol intakes for just one month. They can be such a huge part of our social lives, so what better thing to do is there than joining with your friends and pledging to make healthy changes together?
You’ll also be part of a nationwide effort to raise money to help young people affected by drug and alcohol use, mental illness and social disconnection. Everyone who takes part in febfast can choose to fundraise for Youth Support + Advocacy Service, which helps seriously disadvantaged young people to improve their health, wellbeing and participation in the community. So you can improve your own health whilst being able to contribute to a hugely important cause at the same time.
#2 A break from sugar will revitalise your productivity – and your vital organs
Loaded with glucose and fructose, sugary treats can wreak havoc on your body, giving you a jolt of energy (the sugar rush) followed by the counteractive release of insulin, to regulate sleep (the sugar crash). Moving between the sugar rush and the sugar crash too often can affect your productivity, energy levels and concentration. Taking a break from sugar will reset your liver, pancreas and brain.
#3 Cutting sugar will slow down the ageing process
Those with a serious sweet tooth are at risk of speeding up the appearance of ageing, too. Sugar reacts with proteins in our body that accelerate the ageing process, and it also negatively affects natural skin firming agents collagen and elastin.
#4 You’ll absorb more of the good stuff and help to repair your liver
Removing alcohol for a month clears the way for your body to absorb the vitamins and nutrients coming from the healthy foods you eat, and will help you feel more conscious, clear minded and in control. Giving up alcohol for just one month will help to detox and repair your liver.
If you’re trying to give up sugar, then it’s also best to stay off alcohol too, as it’s a fermented beverage which uses (and creates) sugar in the fermentation process. Your body also needs to undergo some complex digestive mechanisms in order to break alcohol down, so it can be quite hard for your liver (essentially, your body will store the other macronutrients away in your body – often in fat – in order to detox and digest the alcohol, as it registers the alcohol as a poison and prioritises it so it’s removed from your body as fast as possible to minimise the damage it does to your organs).
#5 You’re more likely to change your habits for good
Alcohol can be an addictive and expensive indulgence, and while people try to drink in moderation, it’s super easy for alcohol intake to become excessive. By cutting out alcohol you could save money for activities such as a holiday, as well as ditching the hangover to make the most of the daytime.
In 2015, 73% of people who took part in the febfast challenge reported that they had reduced their alcohol intake after the month was over, and a huge 92% had changed their habits overall – so febfast might even be the kick-start you need to change your habits for good.
Finally, here are my top three tips for getting through the month:
- Stay hydrated: make sure you’re drinking your 2L of water every day. If this isn’t exciting enough for you, swap to a few glasses of sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime, or head to my blog for my favourite vitamin water recipe. A trick I use when keeping cool over summer is to freeze my favourite fruits into ice cubes, and use a couple to keep my drinks chilled for longer. Not only is this refreshing on a hot day, but as the fruit infuses as the ice melts, it gives me a taste of something a little sweeter (without the calories).
- Have a satiating snack before you head out to a celebratory event this summer: so that you don’t find yourself starving and turning to foods you wouldn’t normally eat. My fave snacks before heading out are hummus and veggie sticks, coconut yoghurt or greek yoghurt topped with berries and sugar-free granola, chopped apple with almond butter.
- Remember that you want to enjoy your summer days just as much as your summer nights! Why not use febfast as an opportunity to wake up early on the weekend and go for a run, practice yoga outside as the sun rises or even just take the dog for a stroll around the block? Physical activity in the morning before you start your day will kick start your endorphins and leave you feeling awake and energised. Prioritise your physical and mental wellbeing by making a conscious decision to balance your fun – enjoy activities that aren’t centred on drinking or alcohol. Go to brunch with your besties, a walk along the coast with your family or have a booze-free picnic.
Written by guest expert Jessica Sepel
To find out how to get involved and register for febfast 2016, visit: http://febfast.org.au/get-involved/
Powered by Victoria’s Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS), febfast is the great Australian pause from alcohol or sugar, in support of young people facing serious disadvantage. Participants raise money for YSAS’s partner charities through taking part in the challenge. Since 2007, febfasters have raised over $7million for disadvantaged youth, and enjoyed thousands of sugar and alcohol free days, saving money, losing weight, improving energy levels, sleeping better and feeling much happier.
Youth Support + Advocacy Service is a leading Victorian community service organisation that enables young people who are experiencing disadvantage to access the resources and support they require to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. YSAS is the sole organisation that powers the Febfast campaign.
ABOUT JESSICA SEPEL
Having recently completed a Bachelor of Health Science and Nutritional Medicine, Jessica’s approach to a healthy lifestyle is informed by a well-researched understanding of nutrition and complimented by a passion to achieve physical and psychological balance. Jessica has just released her first hard-copy book, ‘The Healthy Life’. She is passionate about helping individuals embrace a healthier lifestyle through nutrition and believes food can heal all. Jessica’s approach to health and nutrition aims to inspire people to live the best possible lifestyle by maintaining a healthy relationship with food and themselves.
JSHealth aims to inspire people to live the best possible lifestyle by finding and maintaining a healthy relationship with their bodies through food and exercise. Emanating from this is the desire to inspire healthy travel and the creation of a ‘clean’ lifestyle. These three aspects of JSHealth rest on Jessica’s foundational beliefs that optimum health depends on choices and habits including food, physical activity, health and beauty routines, personal and professional enviroments, sleep and stress management. Ultimately, Jessica believes that in order to feel better, we must first be better.