I find it highly ironic that as I sit here writing this post, I am slurping (and I do mean slurping) up the last precious drops of my favorite homemade mocha frappuchino drink.
Sugar just tastes good. Really good. I love it as much as the next woman.
Unfortunately for my sugar habit, I've been studying health and nutrition for too long to continue to gorge on sugar in sublime ignorance. I know all of sugar's nasty little secrets, and so although we've been good buddies for much of my life, the relationship has now become love-hate and over the last 8 years I've been doing my best to drop it altogether.
Ditching The Bad Boy Called Sugar
Has anyone heard the radio commercials put out by the Washington Dairy Association? They let us eavesdrop on a conversation between a woman and the "bad boy" relationship that she's walking away from. The jilted lover, it turns out, is good ol' Soda Pop, whom she has now left for wholesome, nutritious milk.
I think it's a fantastic analogy. Soda Pop tries to remind her of the good times they've have, and what constant companions they were. Sugar feels the same way to me. Comforting, familiar, full of memories of parties and fun events and special treats I've had... but despite the nostalgia, I need to drop it like a bad relationship because I know that under the cover of sweetness are a thousand reasons my body just doesn't need it.
Image by ayelie
Here are just a smattering of the reasons that I try to eat sugar as minimally as I can:
- It compromises my immune system
- It weakens my teeth and causes cavities
- It makes my skin break out
- It messes with my blood sugar balance, creating vicious cycles of highs and lows throughout the day
- It depletes vitamin and mineral stores, and impedes the absorption of nutrients from the food I eat.
- It contributes to an overly acidic state in the body (which contributes to disease)
- It throws off my insulin levels, which creates hormone imbalances for me.
- It is addictive and the more that I eat it, the more that I want it.
Want some more good reasons to avoid sugar?
25 Reasons to Avoid Sugar (from the Body Ecology site- good stuff!)
Image by ayelie
Why do we eat it so much?
1) It tastes good. Let's be real. Sweet things have become treats for good reason-- they're delicious! I don't love things that are sickeningly sweet, and I also love savory treats, but it doesn't usually take much for me to be tempted by a sweet option.
2) It's easy. Lots of convenience foods (even homemade ones like muffins or other baking) have sugar in them. Granola bars, cereal, juice, dried fruit, many breads, jams and jellies, ketchup, store bought salad dressing, many processed meats, etc. It's really, truly everywhere.
3) We crave it. It's natural to crave some sweet things. God gave us 1/5 sweet tastebuds, mixed in with those for bitter, salty, savory and sour. He made many naturally sweet foods, like fruit and wild honey for us to enjoy. But due to imbalance in the body, we begin to crave it to an unnatural, unhealthy degree.
One of the primary reasons we crave it is due to Candida yeast overgrowth in the body. This yeast feeds on sugars (from not only actual sweeteners, but also grains and starches, particularly refined ones). This happens when our gut bacteria is off, and guess what you crave when you have too much Candida? More sugar!
4) We're used to it. I grew up eating lots of sugar, and the habit grew worse during my young adult single years. Church gatherings, special dinner parties, having friends over, going out for a treat as a family... all events where serving and consuming sugar has become the societal norm. We are so used to eating sugar routinely that we may not even notice how many times each week or each day that we actually consume it.
In another month or two, our family is actually going to go back on the GAPS diet because of the massive health improvements that we saw while we were on it this spring. We needed to take a break during a particularly busy late spring and summer, but now we're slowly getting back into the groove by preparing some grain-free dishes each week, to make it easier when we jump back in wholeheartedly.
I also personally feel that I need to work on cutting back on our sugar intake, because I find that it creeps up steadily during our busier seasons, when I am not as focused on what we eat, but rather just on making food that is quick and simple.
Later this month, I will post again on eating less sugar, with a lot of practical tips on how to do just that!