Why you ask? Surely some sugar in moderation is ok – right? I have come to realize that this just isn’t true because ‘moderation’ today means every day. Sugar is in everything – and I am talking about plain white refined table sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup – to me they are pretty much interchangeable – both refined and processed.
Emerging evidence is suggesting sugar consumption is more than just an added calorie or dental decay issue. In this article from the NY Times, sugar is branded as truly toxic substance that can cause diabetes/insulin resistance and cancer and it makes you fat/obese. The outstanding question isn’t whether or not sugar increases your risk for these diseases (it does) it is how much sugar is too much? No one seems to know the answer yet.
So what are we to do? Deprive ourselves and our kids the tasty treats we had growing up? Most certainly not. I have found in the past 4 months that our family has been off sugar that there are many options in making treats that do not have sugar. And when you dump the processed food that contains added sugar (and aren’t really treats) it leaves more room for truly great desserts that we really don’t get anymore these days. So what do I mean by this? I mean consuming real fats. I challenge you to take a look at the store bought treats you eat – pick your favorite poison – is it ice cream? Cookies? Take a look at the ingredients…what do you see? In most cases you will see a lot of sugar and chemicals/additives. Most also include processed vegetable oils – partially hydrogenated (i.e. – trans fats). I bet the ice cream isn’t made with real milk either – it is usually a skim or lowfat dairy powder (which is oxidized by the way – not good for your heart either) with the addition of a processed vegetable oil or soy product to thicken it and add richness in place of what used to be dairy fat in the recipe. I bet those cookies have no butter or eggs (not the real kind anyway – just the oxidized version). When you take the real saturated fat out of these traditional recipes you end up with a lot of processed junk to cover up the absence of any flavor. Fat adds flavor naturally. You tell me – what is worse? Real food or the processed kind.
That being said – there is a real difference between refined sugars and natural sweeteners like raw honey and Grade B maple syrup which both have beneficial properties in aiding digestion. So we made the switch to those sweeteners mixed with real fats. Ice cream made like it was intended – with real cream, eggs and honey or maple syrup. But does it taste good – most definitely! Better in fact than what is in the grocery store or your neighborhood ice cream shop. So why don’t any of these companies make it that way any more? Because everyone is afraid of the fat! And because it is much cheaper to use by-products like skim milk (which used to just get thrown away!).
I do not feel deprived – I feel good that I am not eating something that is potentially toxic and that I am not giving my two year old something that is potentially toxic. We don’t NEED it – we are not deprived of life’s joys either – quite the contrary. I feel now when I give my daughter a ‘treat’ that it truly is a ‘treat’ in every sense of the word – it is both nourishing and healthy for her – and she doesn’t get the message that junk is something to be revered for good behavior. I am proud of how well she is doing even when we go to parties now where sugar is everywhere. She knows it isn’t good for her and I now bring her a replacement item so she doesn’t feel left out. When she does eat it – we all see the results – she is wired and irritable and she has often told me – ‘I don’t feel good’. She can tell the impact on her body because it is so rare that she eats it.
Another point to make is that researchers are starting to look at the addictive nature of sugar. Check out this article which suggests it is more addictive than cocaine. Maybe someday soon we can view sugar like we now view cigarettes – something to think about.
So we will continue on this path in 2012 and I hope to inspire some of you to give it a try. It is possible. I use this as an analogy…would I give myself or my child a cigarette just because I wanted it? Most certainly not – so next time my daughter wants a cookie or a cupcake because she sees her friends eating them – I will make a healthy REAL alternative and skip the processed version. And I will continue to reinforce by telling my daughter what sugar does to her body and that it is toxic. It is our bodies way of telling us that something isn’t right here.