We all have a guilty pleasure; whether it’s that ice-cold Coca-Cola to go with your meal or that long-awaited puff of a cigarette after a long, stressful day at work. As good as it is in the moment, your temporary high be costing you (and your health).
The average South African takes in between 12 and 24 teaspoons of sugar each day. Four to eight teaspoons are from sugar-sweetened beverages. A single 330ml soft drink contains about eight teaspoons of sugar and sells for about R10. If you drink one a day, this adds up to R300 a month.
With the sugar tax around the corner, this number is set to rise. The tax involves an extra charge of 2.29 cents per gram of sugar in soft drinks, sugar-sweetened fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks, and sweetened iced teas.
Why pay more just for weight gain, bad health and a lighter purse? Can those soft drinks and enjoy these health perks:
- A healthy heart. When you eat too much sugar, the excess forms triglycerides (bad fats in your blood). High triglycerides can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. Kicking sugar to the curb will lower levels of triglycerides, and keep your heart beating.
- Low cancer risk. Sugar feeds every cell in your body, including cancer cells. Nixing your sugar habit will lower your risk for cancer and conditions known to increase your risk for cancer, e.g. obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
- Clearer skin. Sugar is a known inflammatory which can trigger breakouts, and speed up ageing. As you begin to wean yourself off sugar, you will notice suppler and smoother skin.
- Less anxiety. Sugary foods can affect your mood, causing anxiety, irritability, and mood swings. It has also been shown to interfere with your body’s ability to cope with stress. Once you ditch the sweet stuff, you’ll feel calmer, less agitated and stressed.
- A sharper mind. A diet high in sugar can sap your brain power, and damage communication among your brain cells. Cutting it out will preserve your brain cells and improve your learning and memory.
Smoking is an unattractive and expensive habit. A pack of cigarettes can cost you anywhere from R30 to R45. If you smoke one pack a day, smoking can cost you between R800 to R1 300 a month.
Need more motivation? Stub out for:
- A glowing complexion.Smoking can leave your skin looking worn-out, and grey. Quitting for good slows down the skin-ageing process, leading to fewer wrinkles and a more youthful appearance.
- Whiter, brighter teeth. Nicotine can stain your teeth. Without it, your teeth will have a much better chance of staying white, which will make you look younger and healthier. Your breath will also be fresher and you’ll be less likely to get gum disease or lose your teeth.
- More energy. When you stop smoking, your blood circulation improves. This increases the amount of oxygen in your body, and boosts your energy levels. You’ll find that physical activity like walking and running will be much easier.
- Less stress. Smoking does not relieve stress. Studies show that smokers are more stressed than non-smokers. When you give up your smokes, your heart and anxiety levels will no longer be artificially raised by nicotine. You’ll also be a lot less worried about your health.
- Improved smell and taste. Smoking can dull your senses of smell and taste. Quitting may enhance the smells and tastes of food. You’ll appreciate different flavours and enjoy eating so much more.
One last thing – it’s time to cut the caffeine
Love your cuppa Joe first thing in the morning? Your bank account doesn’t. Takeaway coffee costs about R25. If you indulge in a cup every day, your daily caffeine fix ends up costing you a whopping R750 a month.
Toss out on coffee to save yourself a buck. It can also help you sleep more soundly and feel more refreshed the next day. No more caffeine also means less caffeine withdrawal headaches, anxiety and high blood pressure.