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Health, Home, and Happiness: What's Wrong With Sugar?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What's Wrong With Sugar?

Refined sugar, corn syrup, and yes, agave 'nectar' are all over refined, low nutrition, and high markup foods.  They do more harm than good for your body, so it is best to keep them out of your grocery cart, cupboards, and off your plate.  I believe that the consumption of nutrient-depleted refined foods are responsible for the high amount of overweight people in modern societies.   

What's wrong with sugar and other refined sweeteners?

Cause weight gain (I've admitted this here and here)
To be digested, they use up your body's stores of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals
Used as a substitute for foods with needed nutrients.  In Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr Weston Price talks about how a lack of nutrients is causing us to have dental cavities, narrow dental arches which cause teeth crowding, a more narrow pelvic opening

High in Refined Sweeteners:
  • Soda. BIG time! And 'diet' is bad too
  • "Fruit" drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Candy
  • Cakes, cookies
  • Puddings, jello
  • Commercial jellies and jams
  • "Fruit" Snacks

Most brands have refined sweeteners but you might not expect them to:

  • Ketchup
  • Peanut Butter
  • Canned fruit
  • Frozen fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • Yogurt
  • Bread
  • Any processed/convenience food
  • Spaghetti sauce

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health (Vintage)Recommended Reading:
Nourishing Traditions, The Maker's Diet, Eat Fat Lose Fat, and Good Calories Bad Calories
Good Calories Bad Calories is the book that recently motivated me to stop baking white flour bread for my husband- He talks about the link of heart disease, stroke, and cancer to refined carbohydrate.

What helps me keep refined sugar out of my diet:

  • Eat plenty of fat, particularly coconut oil.  I have no sugar cravings when I eat enough coconut fat, in the form of coconut milk or coconut oil.  I'll sometimes still eat sugar, but I don't have the drive-to-Walmart-right-now-and-buy-sweets cravings that I get without good fats. 
  • I haven't seen much difference, but I've heard people say that including fermented foods in the diet can help with sugar cravings. I include lots of fermented foods for other reasons, though.
  • Have nutritious filling snacks on hand (crispy almonds, cheese, soup)
  • Use honey to sweeten things. If anything, the cost prohibits me from eating too much honey.  But I use it in my coffee, and sweets so I don't feel completely deprived.  
  • Read labels and stick with 'safe' brands of bread, yogurt, etc that don't contain sugar
  • Even better, make your own and you have complete control over what goes in! 
  • Make the decision to not eat any refined sugar at all. Sometimes I'll think that I can eat a moderate amount of something sweet- but more often than not the addictive properties will get to me and I'll keep going until I've had way too much.  I do better not eating any at all- I even pass by the little sample tables at Costco

How about you? 
Are you joining our No Refined Sweetener Challenge?

Where have you found refined sweeteners that surprised you?

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Anonymous Missy said...

Absolutely!! Actually, since starting traditional foods about two months ago I actually have given up refined sugar and don't feel cravings. It's strange, it's the only time in my life where I haven't had cravings all the time, I can walk by the candy aisle or bakery at the grocery store and not be tempted at all. I do think fermented foods seem to play a part for me. Once I started deliberately eating something lacto fermented everyday is when I realized I truly wasn't having cravings, a side benefit of fermented foods is that I don't get heartburn anymore either!

April 1, 2010 at 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Wendy (The Local Cook) said...

Too funny! Our weight loss class last night was about sugar. I had to do an assignment to try to find hidden sugars in my cupboards. Luckily I have primarily natural sugars (pure raw honey, pure maple syrup, etc). I really only use raw sugar when baking.

April 1, 2010 at 9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been using honey exclusively for over three years. I never touch anything processed anymore. Needless to say, I am a healthier person than I was three years ago!

April 1, 2010 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger Michelle (She Looketh Well) said...

We haven't had refined sugars in a very long time, even the hidden ones, though I am always on the look out as I think 'they' sneak it in where they can. We pretty much make everything it seems LOL right down to toothpaste!

I do find that even, for me, dried fruit induces cravings. (I have issues though ;-) I do find when I drink lots of green smoothies or green juices the cravings go away. Also, I have been intentionally eating fermented kraut at every meal, even with my morning eggs and the cravings are totally gone. Also, I crave more raw foods, go figure.

April 1, 2010 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I'm sad to find it in the Stonyfield Farm Yobaby yogurts....babies/toddlers don't need sugar! I like those generally because of the unhomogenized whole milk used in them, but alas sugar contraindicates their previous goodness.

April 1, 2010 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Rana said...

I have been off refined sugar for a month now and I am surprised that I do not crave my coke or my chocolate any more. I've noticed that the kids seem a bit calmer when they are not eating a lot of sugar too. I'm still doing a lot of investigating on what we should be eating. I feel great and I've lost almost seven pounds.

April 2, 2010 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

totally concnur with most of this post but i have to say, honey, and other "natural" sweets like maple syrup, are STILL sugar metabolically, they still raise our blood glucose and still contribute to the health problems associated with sugar. i too, gleaned a lot of amazing info from taube's book, and it spured my interest in reading about how carbs, refined and not, affect our bodies. ive read this medical doctor's site w/great interest- he calls honey "sugar with dirt". just food for though here. i know many traditional cultures utilized honey and sweet fruits in thier diets, but it was without question much more occaisionally used- they didnt have a store to buy a jar of honey at, they had to deal with the bees!

April 3, 2010 at 7:38 AM  
Anonymous Rebeccah said...

I have been on a hi protein, lower carb diet since January. I have heard that the vit b's help in curbing your cravings for carbs too.. so, I have been supplementing the vit b's. It seems to have helped quite a bit. I have never felt so good and I've lost 31 lbs)! I don't think I crave anything carb anymore. But, I agree... if I were to slip and eat something like cake or candy.. I know from past history that it is sometimes hard to stop that craving.

April 3, 2010 at 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Alison @ Hospitality Haven said...

What's your experience with sucanat? Also, have you ever tried making yogurt at home with coconut milk instead of cow's milk?

April 4, 2010 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger stacey said...

just wanted you to know that i am doing a version of "no-sugar" this month. going pretty good. haven't had time to talk about it, but hope to post about with a link over here this week.

April 4, 2010 at 8:51 PM  

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