Sugar, goodness where do I start? Sugar certainly is a hot topic at the moment. I have delayed addressing this controversial topic…I’m not sure why? On one hand I’m all for a little sweetness in life and on the other, I fully appreciate the highly addictive and damaging nature of this sweet poison.
I have at this point in my life become very wary as I’ve discussed previously, of “diet” trends, especially those that eliminate large food groups. But all avoiding refined sugar does is simply removes all processed foods and foods we are all better off without.
I quit sugar too
I have used myself as a guinea pig for many years. I’ve at different times throughout my life, eaten a vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, alkalising, grain free diet. I’ve detoxed, quit coffee, quit alcohol, I could go on and on! Comes with the territory of being a naturopath for over 18 years (yes the fun police appear every now and then)! Most recently however, I quit sugar, fructose to be exact.
Just to truly punish myself, I started before Easter (to really test my willpower!). What was I thinking? Now I have always tried to moderate my sugar intake and largely ate whole food sugars like fruit, dried fruit, honey, maple syrup and rapadura. But when I quit, I quit fructose which according to current research is the most damaging, addictive and insidious form of sugar. In fact, there have been recent calls by some medical experts, given the addictive and damaging nature of fructose, for products containing sugar to have a health warning (much like alcohol and tobacco).
I have to say, of all of the dietary changes I have made in my lifetime, this is the most profound. I thought that avoiding fructose would be simple given I didn’t eat a lot to start with. Think again! I also thought, considering I’m a very health-conscious person that I’d not feel too different. Definitely not the case at all!
What I have noticed with quitting sugar is that I no longer have any form of energy slump in the afternoons as I often used to. I wake up always feeling refreshed and I have much better focus and concentration (with less sleep). I have tested myself a few times by eating a bit of sugar (on holidays, dessert at a nice restaurant or at a party because I hate to seem like a rude, do good naturopath)! For the following day or so I have felt lethargic and just really foggy.
My hormones behave themselves a little better and I am less moody (though my husband may beg to differ)! I just feel a whole lot better all round.
To begin with…
Yes, I stopped eating all fruit for a few weeks, just to break the addiction fully. Now I have got through the testy phase where the cravings are strong, I do eat fresh fruit.
Let me get a few things straight.
One, not all sugars are the same. Different types of sugar exert very different effects on the human body. I am not going to go into the biochemistry of these changes. I’ll leave this to the experts and over the coming weeks I will share some links to fascinating research and investigations which will fully and articulately explain why fructose is so very damaging and addictive.
Two, the only good reason for eating any sugar, is for the taste of it. No form of refined sugar or sweetener is going to significantly benefit your health and you, or your children, definitely do NOT need sugar for energy (quite the opposite actually).
Which brings me to the sugars you will notice I use in my recipes…
- Raw honey – as a sweetener is about half fructose so you might consider eating it in moderation if you like it. If you plan to avoid fructose, you will need to also avoid honey.
- Maple syrup – the real stuff only please, is also about half fructose and also will need to be avoided if you intend to avoid fructose. Otherwise moderation.
- Dates – offer some fibre and other nutrients, but you guessed it, contain a lot of fructose.
- Rapadura – is raw cane sugar juice dried. It is much more nourishing than regular sugar containing the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals found in the raw juice (these have been stripped from processed sugar). It is still however a sugar, containing fructose and should be used only in moderation.
- Rice malt syrup or brown rice syrup – made by culturing brown rice with enzymes. It is gluten free and fructose free and is an excellent substitute for honey, maple syrup, and golden syrup. You will see I use it in many of my recipes.
- Stevia – is derived from the super sweet leaves of a small leafy shrub. It is also fructose free, but personally, I find it very sweet and difficult to balance flavour and the bitter after taste it often produces.
So that’s it for now on sugar. I’m sure many of you sugar fiends would rather I didn’t share this with you? As always, the choice is yours. But know this…you can not rely on health regulatory bodies to protect your health, you need to seek to inform yourself.
I have some amazing literature and media reports coming your way, so I hope you take the time to inform your food choices. I will present scientifically validated information that just can’t be ignored. Whilst at risk of sounding dramatic, your life, your children’s lives depend upon it. You will gain a much better understanding of food, health and wellness from this information.
David Gillespie’s book “Sweet Poison” is also well worth a read. Find out more about this and Davids other fabulous books here.
Most of my recipes offer sugar-free variations, so if you are fructose free or planning to become fructose free, check them out here.
More of my Sugar posts you might find interesting…
Toxic Sugar a Catalyst report – this 18 minute ABC Science TV Catalyst video will answer many questions about sugar, weight gain and the burden sugar places on our health. Not to be missed. Also, check out the CBC doco, frightening, fascinating, compelling – crazy if you miss it!