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Healthier Alternatives to the Senate Candy Drawer

Jan 29, 2020

Extremely long days of sitting are in store for the women and men of the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C. as the impeachment trial continues. Many of them are relying on a desk draw to give them energy throughout the day.

The Senate candy desk is the go-to spot during days like this. It's filled with favorites like Hershey's, Rolo's and Reese's peanut butter cups. It was started in 1968 by California Senator George Murphy, who had a sweet tooth and kept candy at his desk. He began the "candy desk" when he invited his colleagues to help themselves. It soon became a dependency and now a long-time tradition.

However, reliance on sweet treats may not be the best approach to remaining alert and focused during the long hours of testimony and evidence presentation. Simple sugars in candy can help provide a quick burst of energy, but not for long. "That is typically followed by an energy slump as our body releases insulin to deal with the sudden surge in blood sugar," says University of Utah Health registered dietician Sarah Zou. "Sometimes this also results in increased feelings of hunger, which might be inconvenient if you have several more hours of arguments to get through."

Healthy alternatives

Better options would be a balanced snack, consisting of a complex carbohydrate such as a fruit or whole grain, and a healthy fat or protein. Zou says this type of snack will provide a more sustained energy boost and manage hunger levels.

Consider a strong mint or mint-flavored gum to boost alertness and satisfy a sweet tooth. It also helps with that coffee breath.

Movement breaks

To truly eliminate the need for a candy drawer, Zou recommends movement breaks. Sitting for long periods promotes the pooling of blood in the lower half of your body. "Getting that blood pumping back up towards your brain can help improve energy and alertness," Zou says. She recommends doing jumping jacks, high knees, or power walking to help with the blood flow. Squats and lunges are good lower impact options.

A few set movement breaks throughout the day would not only be a great way for Senators to keep their energy and focus up, but would be a rare display of bipartisan spirit.

Need caffeine for energy?

Zou recommends consuming unsweetened versions and opting for a low-fat dairy or plant milk. Right now, the Senate is limited to milk or water for liquid refreshment, but perhaps they could put their lobbying skills to good use to bring in some caffeinated options that aren't loaded in sugar and saturated fats.

Who knows? Maybe it's not too late for this historic body of lawmakers to pick up a few healthier habits to get them through.