Simplifying nutrition and using food as medicine - one bite at a time.

My goal with this blog is to set folks straight about what good nutrition really is! Starting by discarding the info we get every day from 'sponsors' that do not really have our best interests at heart, I want to inspire you to eat better AND realize it is much easier than you thought it would be!

Just about any health issues can be addressed with nutrition (and meditation), from mild to chronic to acute. We truly have the ability to heal ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually...

And you can use your daily routine as your vehicle to drive that change :)

Join me...

Quote of the Month

"When food, in the minds of eaters, is no longer associated with farming and with the land, then the eaters are suffering a kind of cultural amnesia that is misleading and dangerous"
~Wendell Berry

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sugar and its Many Faces

Until recently I have been really strict about my little one's sugar intake (basically nothing except some raw honey and the odd bit of real maple syrup in homemade foods) but I realize I can only carry on for so long. Also, the increasing frequency of play dates and outings has made it harder to control what passes his lips. Since when have Goldfish become an official food group?

I have noticed lately when he has ingested some of these more refined foods his sleep suffers. On several occasions recently he has been impossible to put down for a nap and my husband and I were totally baffled as to why. Then I started watching his food intake and, sure enough, the fussy naptimes correlated with his refined food intake, albeit only in small, infrequent doses. His overall demeanor is also affected as he is more irritable and does not listen and cooperate well.  This happens to adults too but may not be as obvious as we don't have our parents observing us and overlooking our diets anymore.

This inspired me to write a post about sugar and its many guises. We are all gradually becoming better at reading labels—good for us! But unfortunately as we consumers become smarter the marketers of food get smarter as well, and can be very deceptive about their advertising and labeling in order to reach a broader group of people. And this is not necessarily intentional as there is a lot of ignorance about what is considered healthy amongst good food manufacturers.

They want their food to be appealing so they’ll make it look sexier on the outside when it’s really rather un-appealing on the inside. For example, many marketers of children’s food incorporate cartoon characters to make it almost impossible for your child to pass it by in the grocery store (I hate those). And of course they desperately have to have it because their favourite cartoon is on it. That is almost sure-fire criteria for me to actually avoid the product, as it is likely to contain loads of sugar.

My Guidelines on Sugar
1. First, remember the saying “If you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not healthy”? This is pretty sound advice.

2. There are many pronounceable words as well that we need to avoid: Anything on an ingredient label ending in 'ose' (ie: fructose, sucrose, glucose…) is a refined sugar, which is not a healthy staple food (these are only really appropriate for occasional use, meaning maybe once a month, at most).

3. Pretty much anything that doesn’t say unrefined or raw (when labeling sugar) is refined or too highly processed in some way.

Sweeteners I recommend using exclusively in your kitchen
Raw, unprocessed honey (“straight from the bees knees” as I say) *not pasteurized or unpasteurized, which is still processed too much and destroys beneficial nutrients. This is my personal favourite as it is local an eco-friendly

Real Maple Syrup (“straight from the tree’s knees”)

Brown Rice Syrup

Blackstrap Molasses (unsulphured)

Panela, Rapadura (sourced from Central/South America)

Jaggery (traditionally used in India and Africa)

Stevia (unrefined and ideally green in colour, as it comes from a green plant which you can, incidentally, easily grow yourself.)

How our bodies are affected by refined sugar
When we eat sugar in its refined form our body processes it much differently that it would in its unrefined form. Being the natural beings that we are—our bodies are attuned to natural food and thrives best on it in its most pure, unprocessed form.

When you eat something with ‘white sugar’ in it, for instance, your body wonders: “Where’s the fibre? Where are all the vitamins and minerals?" Your body makes the best of it and metabolizes it anyway. Over time, if we continue to eat these foods on a regular basis, the lack of fibre, vitamins and minerals plays havoc on our systems as our bodies begin to miss the lacking ingredients that should inherently be there. This is what happens when deficiency sets in. The very missing parts become our bodies deficiencies. Snd those deficiencies potentially become the roots of disease.

Raw/unrefined sugar contains the same vitamin and mineral consistency that is found in the juice from the sugarcane plant. These minerals include Phosphorous, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium. When sugar is processed there are many harmful chemicals added such as Phosphoric Acid, Sulfur Dioxide and Formic Acid. Fortified (added) vitamins and minerals are not nearly as beneficial as the naturally occurring ones found in fresh food, so don't rely on them for your daily intake. They'll keep you alive...but not healthy.

Sugar Addiciton
Another consideration is the addiction potential of refined sugar, which is much greater without the refined-out nutrients. When we crave sweet things our body is actually craving the ‘whole package’ so it will keep craving it until we feed it the unrefined sweets our body really wants and needs. I personally reversed my pre-diabetic condition several years ago by totally removing refined sugar/grains from my diet and eating predominantly raw honey as my sweetener of choice. It took only 6 weeks to see major results and renewed health.

Almost every modern illness is linked to regular consumption of refined sugar/grain intake. For example: Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease/High Cholesterol, Attention Deficit Disorder, Weight Issues and Obesity, Immune-Related disorders. And we are seeing them occur more and more in young children.

Your raw, unrefined sugar should look brown, crumbly and uncrystallized, like this:

And not like this:                            

And definitely not this:

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