I heard this song today, Sugar, Honey, Honey and it made me think about sugar and the effects it has on the body. Disclaimer… I do love this song, I know all the words and I sang my heart out. 😉 I was thinking about foods in general that are considered, “BAD”. Sugar comes up a lot in my conversations with my clients. Look, most people would be better off consuming less meat, milk, sugar, chemicalized, artificial junk food, alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco and increasing their consumption of water, whole grains and veggies, especially dark leafy greens. Honestly, no food is really “BAD”. If you really want to eat a cheeseburger, cookies, or that fried chicken, by all means, eat it! It’s not what you eat SOME of the time, it’s what you eat MOST of the time. It’s that pesky 90/10 rule I follow again.
Some background about sugar… Taken from the book, “How Much Sugar are American’s Eating” by, Alice Walton, The US is the largest consumer of sweeteners and one of the largest global sugar importers. In 1689 the first sugar refinery was built in New York City and within 10 years individual consumption had reached 4 pounds a year. The average American now consumes MORE THAN 130 pounds of sugar and sweeteners per year!!! That’s just insane to me because the average American only eats about 5 pounds of broccoli. The USDA recommends no more than 9 teaspoons per day, yet most Americans eat about 22 teaspoons per day. That’s more than double the recommended amount! Sugar is a simple carb that occurs naturally in foods like, grains, beans, veggies and fruit. When UNprocessed, sugar contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and proteins. When brown rice or other whole grains are cooked, chewed and digested, the natural carbs break down normally into glucose molecules. When those molecules enter the blood, they are burned smoothly and evenly, which allows your body to absorb all the good stuff.
Refined table sugar, aka – sucrose, is VERY different. Extracted from either sugarcane or beets, it lacks vitamins, minerals and fiber, which requires more energy from your body to digest. Your body then has to deplete its own store of minerals and enzymes to absorb sucrose properly. So, instead of providing your body with nutrition, it actually creates a deficiency. It goes into the bloodstream very quickly and wreaks havoc on your blood sugar level, first pushing it sky high, which causes excitability, nervous tension and hyperactivity and then it drops extremely low, which causes, headaches, fatigue, depression, weakness and exhaustion. You might feel happy and filled with energy one minute and then suddenly, you might find yourself exhausted or arguing with a spouse.
Sugar qualifies as an addictive substance for two reasons:
- Eating even a small amount creates a desire for more.
- Suddenly quitting causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue.
Sugar is found in cake, cookies, and obviously candy, and you will also find it in canned veggies, baby food, cereal, peanut butter, bread, tomato sauce and so much more. It might be disguised and labeled as, corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, glucose or fructose. Even foods that people consider “healthy” contain sugar. A crunch peanut butter Clif Bar has 21 grams of sugar, which is 5 teaspoons. A Chocolate glazed donut from Dunkin Donuts has 14 grams of sugar, which is 3 teaspoons. A 16 ounce Starbucks Frappucino actually contains 50 grams of sugar which is 10 teaspoons! Do you see how this is causing the over consumption of sugar in our country? This is what is causing the explosion of hypoglycemia and type 2 diabetes.
So you ask, What are some alternatives to eating sugar? Here’s a list of some great alternatives that may be found at most supermarkets or specialty health food stores. ALWAYS BUY ORGANIC when available. All of them may be found on Amazon, they have everything! I’m kind of an Amazon addict. I guess that’s better than eating sugar? 😉
- Agave Nectar
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Local Honey
- Maple Syrup (THE REAL KIND – not that fake crap that isn’t even really syrup)
- Maple or Coconut Palm Sugar
- Stevia (again, THE REAL STEVIA – Sweetleaf is the best brand)
How about a CHALLENGE?
Choose one food that you eat regularly that is loaded with refined sugar and for one week, gently decrease it and write down your results. What is difficult about reducing this food?
- What is easy about reducing this food?
- Does your body feel different?
- More energized?
- How did reducing this food impact your cravings for other foods?
- Are you going to continue to minimize this food in your diet?
Let me know how this goes for you. I love hearing from you!