The Sugar Series
The overconsumption of sugar is a major problem in the Western world - the Standard Western Diet is full of it and our population is suffering because of it. Sugars in all of their forms are everywhere - in all of our foods - sometimes hidden and sometimes not.
Blood sugar control (type 2 Diabetes, obesity and heart disease are closely linked to sugar consumption. But is also affects our immunity, inflammation in our body, blood pressure, fats around our organs (fatty liver), even depression.
You can lessen your sugar intake. Learn which foods commonly contain sugar, find out how to look for hidden sugars and arm yourself with tips and recipes to make, choose and eat better, higher quality foods.
This Series will get you started!
Part 1 - Foods that commonly are laden with Sugars
Candied dry fruit
Flavoured cottage cheese
Gluten free products
Ham (sugar cured)
Sweet and sour sauces
Most store-bought sauces
Hot dog wieners
Vegetarian and vegan meats and alternative
Part 2 - Check your Labels!
A Sugar by any other name is, well, still a sugar and can still be harmful to your health. Check labels before you choose to purchase and eat packaged foods.
Here is a list of some (not all) of the other forms of sugar that might be listed on the ingredient list of a food:
Brown rice syrup/rice syrup
Fruit juice (concentrate)
So read your labels carefully! As you can see sugar is hiding everywhere, in many different forms.
Part 3 - Cut the Sugar
Eating lots of sugar on a regular basis is not good for our waistline but it has so many other negative impacts – one of the biggest being that it decreases our sensitivity to insulin and our body needs to produce more and more insulin until it can’t keep up with the demand. This contributes to diabetes which leads to a host of other diseases and metabolic imbalances.
This is a huge issue in North America, not only for our aging population, but for your kids and young adults too. We eat terribly as a society and there are consequences.
So how can you start to cut daily sugar consumption down?
Read your labels and note amounts sugars and artificial sugars – know what you are consuming and make good choices
Prepare your own food and pack lunches/dinners/snacks - limit take out dinners and meals/snacks out
Stay away from pre packaged foods – especially sweets, breads and pastries – don’t buy them so they are not easily accessible
Eat balanced meals – every meal - with good fats and clean proteins – this will make you truly feel full and your need to reach for a high carb snack will be curbed
Learn how to cook/bake with sugar substitutes – the good ones, not the chemical alternatives (aspartame, saccharin etc.) – and have better, homemade options available so you don’t reach for the package of donuts or the snickers bar
Before I make a new recipe I scan the ingredient list for sugars – if the recipe calls for 1 or more cups of combined sugars (white, brown, icing etc.), there is probably not too much I can do with it. But if it is ½ a cup or less, I can definitely tweak it a bit to lower the sugars. I like to substitute with a few different options and as you start to play around a bit, it gets quite easy. The easiest one to use is Monk fruit. It is really hard to find as pure monk fruit and typically comes as a blend with erythritol. If something calls for ½ cup of sugar, I can usually get away with ¼ cup of Monk Fruit and it will still taste great. But say it is a muffin recipe, I will often add some extra berries to up the sweet/yummy factor.
Another option I use is stevia. Be careful with this one - not all Stevia products taste the same and some can taste really chemically. I have success with the Krysda line of stevia. AND, you need to watch your amounts. As a typical rule, I don’t use more than 1 tsp of stevia to sweeten anything. It is much sweeter than sugar, but if you are trying to substitute for ¼ or ½ cup of sugar you will need to add something else to it. My go to with Stevia is 1 tsp of stevia and 1-3 tbsp of raw honey (depending on the recipe and how sweet I want it).
So, my general recommendation for these is to use in small quantities. We still don’t want our bodies to get used to foods that are super sweet, but these are definitely better alternatives to true sugars or artificial sweeteners (more below).
Maple syrup is a good sugar substitute in small quantities and is in many ‘healthy’ recipes - it has many more nutrients than straight sugar. But truthfully, it is still sugar. So, watch the quantities and understand that you are still using a sugar.
Honey is still a sugar too but it is metabolized differently that all other sugars and has so many good properties (anti-microbial, anti-fungal etc.) and nutrients - I still like to use this one in moderation.
If you truly want to use natural sugar substitutes throw in some fruit! Use unsweetened applesauce or ripe bananas. Add in some berries; strawberries, when ripe are naturally super sweet or try some apricots – both are great in-season choices. Often these will give any recipe all the sweetness it needs😊
Don’t be fooled by these alternative sweeteners. Unlike the natural options I mentioned above, these were not created by nature but in a lab. They are chemical and these chemicals don’t belong in our bodies. So watch for ingredients like: Aspartame (Nutra Sweet, Equal), Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), Sucralose (Splenda).
Once created to help us cut our sugars, these chemical substitutes do more harm than good and I recommend you always say no to these guys.