Lately I’ve been doing some research into how foods affect our bodies. Last year I read quite a bit on soaking grains and beans and how beneficial nixtamalization is for us. So far this year my focus has been sugar. Did you know you’re only supposed to have 2 tablespoons of a sugar source in one day? That includes sweetening beverages, treats, cereals, desserts, and so on.
I’ve been really surprised at the lack of information (and misinformation) that I’ve had concerning sugars. I can’t imagine what the average American who doesn’t educate themselves about food understands about sugar. Isn’t it amazing that obesity is on the rise while we’re eating “low-fat” and “diet” foods? These foods are removing healthy fats, adding things like margarine in their place, then adding extra sugar and salt for flavoring. No wonder Americans have such high rates of heart disease and diabetes. We’re eating 17 times the amount of sugar than we did 200 years ago, and we’re pretty much keeping ourselves on a sugar high! This causes our endocrine systems to do a poor job of keeping our bodies running smoothly so we get depressed, develop allergies, gain weight, have high triglycerides and so on.
That’s probably old news for most of you here. But did you realize that our raw sugars, including Turbinado and Sucanat are refined beyond milling? I was under the impression that our lovely raw sugars were washed canes that were ground in mills and sold … not evaporated, heated, or filtered. In some cases extra molasses is even added to these products to make the color and flavor more consistent.
So what’s recommended for us sugar addicts as we’re weaning ourselves off our favorite addiction? Well, our bodies think sugar is sugar – so the Corn Sugar people say. It’s not what’s NOT in the sugar, it’s what is in there that we’re concerned about. Sorghum, for example has lots of B vitamins and minerals, molasses from sugar cane has lots of minerals too. Raw honey can help with local allergies, plus it may not upset glucose levels quite so badly for some. Rapadura’s great for baking while stevia is a low-calorie alternative for beverages. And if you avoid Corn and beet sugar (including their molasses by-product) you’re also avoiding GMOs.
The key is to get used not eating so much sweet food. Stop dining out and eating processed foods, don’t eat low- or reduced-fat foods especially those that add sugar in place of fats for flavor, avoid overly sweet foods, count on fruits, and try to add fats to the treat (even if it’s an apple with cheese) to slow down the absorption of sugars, avoid alcohol. After a few weeks of this you’ll notice that most desserts and processed foods taste cloyingly sweet. You’ll probably notice a little weight loss and should see better attention throughout the day.
I know now that I’ve only touched the tip of the sugar iceberg, but there’s only so much one can share at a time! Personally, I’ll be reducing the amount of sugar in my diet to see what kind of impact it makes. Have any of you had experience with reducing or replacing sugar?
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats; Sally Fallon. 1999, 2001.
Well Being Journal. Vol. 20, No.2. March/April 2011.
Jennifer can also be found at Unearthing this Life where she blargs about homeschooling, cooking, gardening, and living in rural Tennessee.