1.) Why is sugar such an important thing to cut out of or reduce from our diet?
The connection between sweets and the pleasure response begins with the newborn’s natural reaction to mother’s milk, which is extremely sweet. It is part of our human survival techniques. The packaged food industry is well aware of this. Processed foods are specifically engineered to keep us malnourished, so that we are not nutritionally satisfied. We then crave more, buy more, and eat more. The body does not know what to do with all of the sugar coming in, especially with the fake sugars, not found in nature, and with the amounts that are not found in nature. This is very hard work for the liver. If we aren't using the energy immediately through vigorous exercise, the liver has no choice but to convert the sugar into fat. Even fruits have been hybridized and refined by the agriculture industry over the years to be seven times larger and seven times sweeter than 150 years ago. Furthermore, sugary and refined foods have been linked to feeding cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. No wonder we see an epidemic of obesity and chronic conditions related to obesity at an alarming rate and growing all over the world, but especially in the USA.
2.)Where are 3-4 places that sugar shows up unexpectedly in the diet?
Sugar is found in most packaged, processed foods. All refined grains and treats such as cookies, pies, candies, cakes, muffins, breads, crackers, flat breads, bread crumbs, croutons, pre-packaged full meals, frozen meals, pasta, couscous, salad dressings, and sauces have a form of sugar in them. Surprisingly, there is sugar and high fructose corn syrup added to canned vegetables, hot dogs, cured meats, deli meats, and more. Read the food ingredient labels and educate yourself. There are secret names for sugar in food ingredient lists. Here are some common names for sugar that will increase your blood sugar level (glucose):
- BARLEY MALT
- BEET SUGAR
- CANE JUICE
- EVAPORATED CANE SYRUP
- DATE SUGAR
- RICE SYRUP
- TURBINADO SUGAR
- HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP
3.) What is the first place people can completely cut sugar out of their diet without suffering withdrawals?
The first step to reducing or eliminating sugar from one's diet is to increase water consumption. When increasing water, I add lemon or cucumber to the jug. This allows me to have a clean palate all of the time. It allows me to realize if I am truly hungry, or just giving in to the sugar cravings, the emotional triggers, or the social cues to grab a sugary treat. I also think an easy transition for sugar reduction is to only eat meats, deli meats, cured meats, fish and seafood without sugar or corn syrup added. The next easy step will be to reduce fruit to one to two times a day, and choose sour or bitter fruits, like a grapefruit, a green apple, or a lemon. When we eat fruit less often, we reduce the sugar cravings for other sweet things.
4.)What are a few healthier substitutes you can use for sugar and where do you use them?
I encourage my clients to buy Lakanto or XYLA on line or at health food stores. Lakanto is Chinese monk fruit dried and crystallized. It is used in Asia for lung issues, liver ailments, circulation, sore throats, and preventing a host of other illnesses. I like the golden brown variety of Lakanto. I buy Lakanto on the internet. Xyla is a natural white sugar alternative from the bark of the birch tree. I buy Xyla from a health food store. I use these natural sugar substitutes in beverages, marinades, dressings, sauces, and for baking.
5.) What sugar substitutes should people be wary of? Why?
Artificial sweeteners are chemicals. They are not the same thing as plant based, zero calorie sweeteners. There are many of both kinds of sugar substitutes out there. Here is a quick overview of the more popular ones:
SACCHARIN is an artificial sweetener with a sulfa base. It has a slight metallic aftertaste. Saccharin may cause nausea, diarrhea, skin problems, or other common allergic symptoms. It has even been linked to bladder cancer. My body reacts to saccharin as if I have had soda. I use the restroom repeatedly every hour. It makes me more thirsty afterwards, and then I tend to crave salty things.
ASPARTAME is made from Phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol gas. It also has a slightly bitter or metallic aftertaste. Side effects may include headaches, memory loss, anxiety, heart palpitations, and weight gain! What? Weight gain? Yes, the body thinks it is enjoying sugar, and may spike the insulin as if you had sugar anyway.
SUCRALOSE is a substance made by chlorinating sugar. The chemical structure of the type of chlorine in the table top sucralose is the type of chlorine that is banned in the pesticide named DDT! People who use sucralose have reported headaches, muscle aches, cramps, diarrhea, dizziness, and inflammation. Sucralose can impact the immune system, the liver, and the kidneys.
6.) Can you offer other general advice on how to keep cutting out sugar from your diet?
Remember, the journey towards a superior self is not to add more pressure or another item on your already full to-do list. The path towards optimum health is full of bumps and pot holes, but with baby steps forward, loving oneself, and surrounding yourself with like-minded people, you will end up a Happy, Healthy YOU!
Chocolate Bark, Fondue, and Truffle Base
- 6 Tablespoons salted butter
- 1/4 cup Xyla or Lakanto (natural sweeteners)
- 2 Tablespoons coconut milk
- 1 4-ounce bar of 100% chocolate, broken into pieces
- Put a small pan or small soup pot on medium heat.
- Add the butter and sweetener to pot.
- Stir until sweetener completely dissolves.
- Add coconut milk and stir vigorously
- Add chocolate pieces.
- As the chocolate begins to melt, lower to low heat and continue stirring until smooth. Sometimes the chocolate is completely melted and mixed in, but has a grainy look within the smoothness, but that is fine. It depends on the country of the chocolate's origin. Once everything is done melting, you are ready to enjoy!
For fondue, leave the pot on the lowest fire setting or on the table if the room is warm. Begin dipping your fruit or vegetables into the chocolaty goodness! For adventurous types, try dipping broccoli or carrots in the fondue!
For truffles, use a teaspoon and drop a teaspoon or more of the chocolate into mini candy molds or mini cupcake liners. Press shredded coconut, nuts, or dried fruits on top. Place in freezer at least one hour. Makes 18 truffles.
For bark, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place nuts, seeds, or dried fruits on paper, then pour chocolate on top evenly covering the goodies. Freeze at least an hour. Enjoy!
Please let me know if I may be of further assistance.