With all the bad press around sugar over the last few years its confusing to get a grip on what we can eat to sweeten up our lives, without poisoning ourselves! There are some very strong theories that all sugar is ‘bad’ including fructose in fruit and some high starch vegetables. Some people have definitely healed themselves by restricting all sugars, so it can be a valid form of self-treatment. Personally I like a more moderate view, taking into consideration I don’t have a serious health condition.
I enjoy being able to have something sweet, and don’t like to say never. It becomes too restrictive and our needs are always changing. I don’t like missing out and of course I love to prepare and experiment with delicious, healthy, nutritious foods, including the sweet stuff!
Why is that we are so attracted to sweetening? In Ayurvedic medicine it is one of the 6 tastes that help to create balance. It is also thought that we when we overly crave sugar, we are really looking to make our life a bit sweeter! So basically maybe there are other ways we can do this that don’t even involve eating! Unfortunately refined sugar is highly addictive and leaves you wanting more.
So what is refined sugar?: Usually cane sugar that has gone through a chemical process to reduce the molasses. It removes any nutrients and leaves it pretty much devoid of nutrients and highly acidic. Examples are white sugar, castor sugar, brown sugar and golden syrup. Mostly refined sugar doesn’t come alone, its combined with unhealthy fats and wheat. It’s in most commercially prepared baked goods, unless they state otherwise, ie, cakes, biscuits, yoghurt, sauces, flavoured chips and savoury biscuits, chocolate etc. Pretty much most snack and diet food contains refined sugar to make the item (not sure I can call most of it food) taste appealing and leave you wanting more.
What does refined sugar and too much of the sweet stuff do to us? So with all my nutritional training over the years and when I tune into my body, I know refined sugar isn’t good for me and I’m not the only one. There is a lot of research on the affects of sugar on health. It can affect mood, sleep, make joints stiffer, is counter active to healthy weight, gives an energy spike and then a crash (a bit like a coma), and is highly addictive. To put it bluntly white sugar is quite toxic in my opinion, a little rarely, ok, too much often, beware. I recommended eating any food as close to the original and whole form as possible, the least refining the better.
What’s unrefined sugar?: Morewhole forms of sugar ie coconut sugar and palm sugar (jaggery), coconut nectar, maple syrup, honey, agave (not my favourite, but that’s another story).
Fruit, you may have heard contains fructose, which is considered by some to be a ‘no go’ sugar. The way I feel about fruit is that its packed with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, is cleansing and a whole food in beautiful form. Anthony William the author of ‘The Medical medium’ advocates fruit strongly vital and healing food.
I’m a fruit lover, of course too much isn’t for everybody, but you can work out what is better for you, a wedge of watermelon or a slice of cafe cake.
How to remove refined sugar from your diet? It takes about 5-10 days after stopping sugar to move through the cravings. I recommend during that time just having very natural sweetness like: Fresh dates, fruit, goji berries, little bit of dried fruit like apple, nothing that doesn’t contain natural sugars. After that you really get to see how you feel without it. Who’s up for a challenge that will leave you feeling pretty good and more in charge, of your moods and cravings?
After you’ve spent some time without refined sugar or sweet stuff, and your ready to bring it back in to your diet, I recommended:
- Coconut sugar for baking
- Vegan chocolate (with unrefined sugar)
- Fresh Medjool dates
- Raw deserts
- Maple syrup (can bake with this too)
If you really want to seriously eliminate all sugars including fruit, have a look at Sarah Wilson’s book, ‘I Quit Sugar’, she transformed her health issues and is very passionate.
Start to understand your own body and get a sense of what works for you. We are all different and things change with our needs and health. There is no one right way. Be flexible and have self-understanding. Then even if your not doing the ‘right’ thing for you, you do however know what good and can come back to it.
Here’s to loving my coconut ice cream and vegan chocolate in moderation!
Haydie Osborne health coach