Giving up Sugar? It’s not just about the white stuff.
When I quit sugar, even though I read much about the subject, it was the voice in my head and my heart that I chose to listen to and it was telling me it was time to quit a few things, including giving up sugar.
You would think it an impossible task.
When I first started writing about sugar here. I declared to the world that my sister and I had given up sugar. Well over 2 years ago now. Amazing how time scoots on by. Even more amazing to think, not only did life go on without sugar, but it went on very nicely. It’s not impossible, but if you need a bit of help or you want to just dip your toe in, then you make like to read this article where I share a few easy to do tips for giving up.
Just giving up sugar alone is not the answer. This is a paradigm shift. A whole new way of looking at food and eating.
Giving up sugar is just one piece of the puzzle.
You may consider that giving up sugar is about giving up the sweet sticky delights of cane sugar and all its guises and that would be true, in part, but it’s so much more than that.
What are you really giving up?
It’s actually about cutting back on your fructose consumption. You see, sugar as you and I know it, (table sugar) is comprised of two molecules sucrose and fructose. Once converted into glucose, they’re both used by your body for cellular energy.
What’s so wrong with fructose?
I know, seems harmless enough right? After all, it gives the fruit its sweetness. How can that be bad? Let me try and explain it the way I understand it. Fructose unlike sucrose (which has a direct pass into the bloodstream), is stored in the liver and can either be released back into the bloodstream when needed or is inevitably converted to fat. A lack of exercise and the consumption of more calories than your body needs in a day will leave fructose safe and snug and stored away in your fat files. Of course, glucose will store as fat too, but fructose tends to bypass the enzymes that control how much of your glucose converts to fat. Making it something to avoid whenever possible.
A lack of exercise and the consumption of more calories than you need will leave fructose safe and snug and stored away as fat.
It’s also about giving up simple sugars, another way to put it would be simple carbohydrates, you know, pasta, white bread, white rice. When you eat too much, too often they are converted to glucose in your body at lightning speed. Of course, all carbohydrates convert to glucose, it is the very thing that gives you energy, but if you consume too many simple carbohydrates then you are putting undue stress on your body. The result is a rush of glucose that your body is not ready for, leading to insulin spikes and eventual storage of glucose in the liver for that rainy day when you need it.. and if that rainy doesn’t come.. well, yep, you guessed it, you have another method of fat storage you weren’t counting on.
Sugar (cane sugar) is in almost everything!!
Most of the processed foods that you buy these days have sugar added to it. Why? It’s cheap, it preserves and somehow adds flavour, but more so, it just adds to our addiction to sugar. I object to this unnecessary addition of sugars in my system; my body doesn’t need it. Period. Avoid processed foods with added sugar. Check the labels on the foods you buy for a shocking burst of sugary reality.
What about processed foods?
If you are serious about giving up sugar then at some point you will become serious about giving up processed foods and opt for making your meals from scratch. Think fabulous slow-cook meals, beautiful homemade soups, deliciously nutritious salads.
Does my culinary life lack for this?
Actually, quite the opposite. It opens your mind to the wonderful world of food and recipes. I’ve found so many great recipes in Sarah Wilson’s books to satisfy my inner chef. You can find them here.
A funny thing happens when you give up sugar.
People look at you differently. They can’t quite believe you could consider giving up so much that is wonderful. For some, it almost seems smoking would be a more palatable option than quitting sugar. Sure, it’s true, sweetness, sweet foods, chocolate, ice cream. All quite delightful. I love these things. Does it mean I have to or need to eat fructose laden sugar? No, nor does it mean I have to give up any of these things, although I will admit when dining out, finding a dessert without sugar, all the while your friends prodding you to partake is not easy.
Does quitting sugar mean giving up all the sweet things?
Unlike the narrow options when dining out. Cooking at home is another matter altogether. Cakes, ice cream, desserts are all on the menu, with the omission of cane sugar and replaced with either dextrose, rice bran syrup or glucose syrup. Why are these okay? Although still high in energy-giving calories, they do not contain fructose. But, if too many calories is a worry for you, then opt for the natural sweetener known as stevia, I have talked about it before here, and it is my favourite solution to appease my sweet tooth. I use the brand, Natvia. It works brilliantly, and you need never feel like you are missing the sweeter things in life.
The premise behind giving up sugar has its basis in sound and scientific evidence.
Much has been written on the subject and there will be more. Scientific research to look for answers between the connection with what we choose to eat and how our body interacts with food and the impact on our health will continue to emerge. Living longer is one thing, living well is quite another. Shouldn’t we strive for this?
It took a movement driven by the likes, of Dr Robert Lustig in the United States with his groundbreaking book Fat Chance.
Sarah Wilson, who has shone such a bright light on quitting sugar for life and contributing significantly to the anti-sugar movement with her books and website, I Quit Sugar. It’s a great story.
As well as the compelling point of view backed up by science by David Gillespie in his book Sweet Poison.
When I wrote my first article on giving up sugar I predicted the landslide that was about to happen; I sense we are in the midst of that groundswell, and it’s about to become an Avalanche. Primary producers and various associated companies are likely to get nervous.
These books have helped me understand why sugar should be avoided. They have helped formulate my own ideas about healthy food.
Don’t be put off by the naysayers.
As the swing against sugar gathers momentum, so too, those who will try to convince you against giving up sugar. Listen to your body, your mind, and your heart. Look at the genetic health of your family.
Eating healthy food can be a quagmire, right up there with finding the perfect skin cream. Eat meat, don’t eat meat, put wholemeal grain at the top of the food pyramid, take it down again, avoid gluten, replace margarine and unhealthy seed oils with butter, coconut oil, and ghee.. confusing? Sure.
I have a healthy interest in what I consume, but I’m not a health practitioner or nutritionist. What I am is an avid reader and someone who wants to maintain my health for a very long time. Do a little digging and you will find the right answers, many of which you will find in the books and websites I have recommended in this article.
Finally, this is the way is see it, the science is mounting and suggests it is time to take a good look at what we are eating, not just how much sugar we consume, but how much of our food comes from over-processed, overly packaged food.
If it makes sense and you feel better and if you lose a few pounds then rejoice, go forth, give up the sweet stuff. You might surprise yourself. You might enjoy this new way of living. It may not be the deprived life as some would lead you to believe. You may feel a sense of liberation. I know I do.
See you next time.