– Everything You Need To Know About Sugar –
In North America, sugar has become the new cocaine. In 2008, research stated: the average American consumes 19 teaspoons of sugar a day–which is equivalent to 310 calories. The biggest problem with sugar (on top of being extremely unhealthy in large consumptions), is that it becomes addicting. The more you have it, the more you crave it.
Here are two examples for you:
- My girlfriend, let’s call her Jessica, feels like she always needs Chocolate or Candy before bed. If she does not have anything sweet before bed, she feels extremely unsatisfied.
- My boyfriend, Josh, likes to indulging in frozen yogurt or candy at least once a day. Every day, he feels like he needs a little more sugar than the day before.
In both these examples, Jessica and Josh have two problems:
- Their ‘timed sugar rituals’ become less about craving and more about expecting. While their bodies may be crying out for sugar, really they are just subconsciously expecting a sugar spike; therefore, their cravings are false.
- The longer they continue their ‘sugar rituals’, the more their bodies begin to crave unnecessary sugar throughout the day. This is because the sugar becomes habitual and normalized. Their bodies begin to build up a sugar tolerance… Let’s look at having alcohol with dinner as an example. When you first start drinking wine with dinner every night, you will find one glass of wine gets you drunk… But once you have been drinking wine with dinner for a month, it will take you more like three glasses of wine to get drunk.
My Sugar Story
A couple years ago, I did a Hormone Reset Cleanse with Dr. Sara Gottfried. Dr. Gottfried is a medical doctor that specializes in female hormones. Up until doing this cleanse, I ate fruit sugars like no tomorrow. I think I always figured if it came from a fruit, it was completely guilt-free. I would make smoothies with 2 bananas, a cup of pineapple, apple juice, and more sugary items. Those smoothies were absolutely loaded with fruit sugars. On top of my daily smoothies, I would have store bought granola bars and healthy desserts before bed. After tracking my food for a couple weeks I realized I was consuming almost 120-150 grams of unrefined sugar a day. Holy Smokes!
There are many benefits to fruit sugars and unrefined sweeteners. A lot of fruits have wonderful health properties to them. That being said, one gram of natural occurring pineapple sugar has the exact same effect on your body as one gram of white sugar. Sugar, no matter what form, leads to diabetes and many other health problems.
So during this hormone cleanse, I would listen to Dr. Gotfrieds seminars and podcasts. A huge part of the hormone cleanse is completely cutting sugar out for four days. During these four sugar-free days I felt like some sort of insane addict going through withdrawals.. But after the cleanse, I felt phenomenal! My skin was glowing. I had way more energy. I was less moody.. I came to conclude a woman such as myself – about 120 pounds and 5’6 – only needs about 40-60 grams of natural occurring sugar a day.
Do not get me wrong, sugar is vital for survival. Dating back to the beginning of mankind, our species would hunt out berries and sweet foods to stay alive. Sugar in moderation is completely healthy.
So how much sugar should I eat, Emma?
It varies person-to-person. If you are a male athlete, like my boyfriend, you will need a lot more sugar than a petite woman such as myself. Do your research. I no longer buy products with refined sugars in them.
I usually eat approximately 2-3 servings of fruit a day. I stick to low glycemic fruits such as apples, berries, coconut and avocado. Fruits with Low GI’s are less likely to spike your blood sugar. I try to stay away from tropical fruits such as mangos, pineapples, and bananas; those fruits are high in GI.
On top of my couple servings of fruit, I usually allow myself to indulge in another serving of natural occurring sugar such as: honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, coconut sugar, etc. Those do not have to be directly from the bottle, but possibly in the form of a plant based protein bar or homemade raw-granola.
If you think you are over doing it on the sugar, for now, try switching all those refined sugars to natural occurring sweeteners. Than after that, slowly decrease your intake of natural sugar all together. The best way to eating your sugar is spreading it out evenly throughout the day. This way you won’t experience a sugar crash — which will inevitably lead to binge eating. Here is a typical food day for me:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Half a Mashed Banana, Protein Powder and 1 Tsp of Maple Syrup
Snack: Hummus with Veggies and Rice Crackers
Lunch: Sweet Potato Kale Salad
Afternoon Snack: 1 Apple & 1 Small Square of 88% Cacao Dark Chocolate
Dinner: A Meal of your Choice
Dessert: A Shake (Handful of Strawberries, Almond Butter, Plant Based Protein, Coconut Milk)
I like to rotate my meals: sweet/savoury/sweet/savoury. I highlighted the sweet potato because there are a lot of natural occurring sugars in those. You must be conscious that even veggies like beets have lots of sugar in them. I should also note: lots of grains and dairy/dairy alternative products have lots of natural occurring sugars in them. Also low fat labelled products such as “non-fat 0% sour cream” usually contain a lot more sugar than full fat sour cream. If you feel uncertain of how much sugar is in everything, track your meals on an app like Calories Tracker or Calorie Counter for a week and see.
Eating natural sugar does not have to be straight from a fruit or bottle. I use protein powder as a sweetener a lot of the time. Just putting a scoop of protein into my oatmeal or shakes adds all the sweetness I need. A lot of plant based proteins such as VEGA use Stevia Leaf Extract; which is a zero calorie sweeter. There is also Xylitol – another calorie free sweetener. To be honest, I don’t know if I fully trust how ‘healthy’ these two natural sweeteners are yet. They have not been studied enough to really know. But for now, I think these two are fine in small consumptions.
As for other zero calorie sweeteners like Aspartame and Sucralose, stay far far away. There is way too much evidence that these cause cancer and other harmful health problems. You would be better off indulging in white sugar versus these chemicals, in my honest opinion.
Refined Sugar Detox
If at first you are really struggling to cut out refined sugar, don’t get discouraged. Like quitting smoking, the longer you go without it, the easier it gets. If you feel like you’re in the middle of a ‘I need sugar crisis’, try calling a friend, going to the gym, dancing to your favourite music, or anything that will distract yourself.
Also don’t forget the 21 day rule of thumb. After 21 days of eating a refined sugar free diet, your whole system will have completely detoxed that refined crap out of your body. You will feel amazing and look great. Not to mention you will crave sugar way less than you did 21 days before hand.
That is all I have on sugar for now. Let me know what you think in a comment below.