I’m so excited to share this post today from Registered Dietitian Wendy! Her advice on sugar is spot-on!
Hi there Kath Eats Real Food readers! I’m Wendy, a RDN, Intuitive & Transformational Coach and CECP who writes, speaks, educates, and consults about passionate and health-full living for families and organizations. I am the author of Sweetness Without Sugar, co-creator of the e-course Transforming Your Relationship with Food: Sugar Series, and creator of Feel Good Fudge® (coming soon). I love sharing about these topics and encouraging people to live from one’s own unique sweetness. I’m grateful to be here; a big thank you to Kath for having me here.
This time of year begins the “season of sugar.” It is upon us from Halloween onward through Easter. Truth be told, in our culture, it is always a player in our reality. It’s one of those things that we just love or we love to hate! When I first published my book, Sweetness Without Sugar, in 2011, it was right before the big article in The New York Times Magazine, and people had heard about sugar and the perils of eating too much. And now, just 4 years later, we hear people’s frustration over hearing and trusting that sugar is “not good for us” but feel trapped with nowhere to turn to find a solution to their love of sweets and the grasp it has on their lives.
The grasp comes honestly and innately. We are born to love and appreciate sweets, both physically and spiritually. Whether breast or bottle-fed, our sweet taste sense is activated. It seemingly links us to our sense of well-being, pleasure, comfort and connection. As grown-ups, we often miss an important way to re-interpret this desire. We can embody “sweetness” from the inside out when we live from our passion, our purpose, with connection and with intention to living from the depth of love within.
In 2009, the American Heart Association recommended no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women (25 grams) and men, 9 teaspoons or 37.5 grams, per 2000 calorie diet per day. With this in mind, I would like to offer tips for enjoying the season with fun, treats and sweetness (inside and out!) People often ask me for steps to take to make it less overwhelming as either a strong sugar lover, a sugar addict or somewhere in between. We can look at sugar without saying “good” and “bad.” There are some choices that are more healthful as we choose moderation from a place of love and celebration of our true self.
Credit: Sherry Van Dyke
Many of the additives in our food contribute to the cycle of reaching for more of it. Though often fun to eat, alone, sugar, corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, provide no nutritional value, leaving us full, yet with “empty calories.” A metaphor for what we choose to “fill up on.” In addition, when consuming out of balance, these sweeteners promote obesity, tooth decay, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other inflammatory diseases.
As an intuitive, I look for mental, emotional, physical and spiritual manifestations underlying a person’s blood sugar dysregulation. These are often represented as an incongruence or dissonance between how we are living in accordance to our deepest truths. In other words, we may be looking outside of ourselves for the answer, the sweet, the “thing” that will help or save us or make us not feel like we are broken and need saving. As a human being, I know I’m not alone when I share that I have personally lived this discrepancy amidst this tug and grasp of sugar’s hold.
It is possible to feel more balance while still embracing the illusory nature of balance itself. In life, it IS balanced to have a daytime and a night, a dark and light, a winter, spring, summer and autumn. With each season, with each year, we mark changes and growth and often compare them with previous times. We grow and change through the changing balance. With possibilities being endless, we can respond through love or through fear, depending upon our relationship to our thoughts surrounding the changes. Sugar has been a “go to” for me on either end of that spectrum of feelings. It has been my companion whether happy, sad, angry or anxious; sugar has been an “outside-in solution wannabe.”
Waking up to “the balance” for me led to learning more about how to more deeply listen to the inner stirrings and become an observer who takes action. We can read about the “good” and “bad” and “know” what we “need to do,” but can also choose not to do it. Therein might lie some frustration and we pile more unhelpful thoughts and make it about how somehow we are failing that we don’t have “willpower” or strength. The truth is, we create changes when we are ready.
We live in a time of enormous discovery with the possibility of opening our eyes and hearts to the infinite potential of change from within. Therein lies an array of sweet offerings from which to choose. The answers will ultimately come from you, and below are some suggestions that may resonate and provide a few action steps.
Here are some first steps to take:
- Make your favorite recipes using alternative sweeteners (see below) to replace corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar and artificial sweeteners.
- Have your sweet items in the form of food more than drink. For instance, a carrot, pumpkin or sweet potato muffin or piece of fruit rather than soda.
- Stay hydrated with decaffeinated beverages. Aim for drinking ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day to help reduce sugar cravings.
- Notice your thoughts as you reach for the sweets. Is it conscious? Are you stressed? Happy? Bored? Anxious?
- Remove artificial sweeteners (see below) aka, the yellow, pink, and blue packets (yes, this includes Splenda®).
- Have regular portions of protein and healthy fat throughout the day (this helps curb sugar cravings). A serving of protein is the size of the palm of your hands (not your fingers) and the thickness of a deck of cards. Healthy fats include avocado, nuts, seeds, chia or hemp seeds.
Credit: Sherry Van Dyke
Refined and processed sugars include:
- Artificial sweeteners (e.g. aspartame, saccharine, Aceulfame K®, sucralose (Splenda®))
- High fructose corn syrup
- Corn syrup
- Refined white sugar
Suggested replacements include:
- Coconut sugar can be substituted for both white or brown sugars in a 1:1 ratio.
- Pure maple syrup (minus corn syrup and other ingredients) is great for baking with a liquid sweetener.
- Liquid stevia plain from stevioside (avoid Reb A; there is less research on this part of the plant). Also avoid stevia mixtures that contain sugar alcohols and other sweeteners. Plain stevia from stevioside is what to look for.
- Fruit – if in baking, can use applesauce, pureed bananas or dates.
- Blackstrap molasses – hearty and flavorful, especially nice for use during fall and winter holiday recipes.
Even when choosing alternatives, moderation remains a key factor for good health. With sugar and sweeteners being added to foods of all kinds such as lunchmeat, processed foods, and more, sweeteners are insidious as an additive. Check food labels to see for yourself the many names for sugar that is added to most foods. In researching for my book, at the time, there were 99 different names for sugar!!
Other ideas to address sugar intake:
- Be sure you are eating a balanced diet throughout the day. Sugar cravings can indicate a need for more nutrient dense foods. Focus on eating food you can pronounce… real food.
- Drink citrus water (e.g. slices of lemon or lime or you can use Young Living® essential oils (to sign up and order click here!) such as lemon, grapefruit, tangerine to keep the body alkaline.
- Keep gut flora healthy with probiotics (e.g. coconut kefir) and fermented foods (made with sea salt)
- Balance blood sugar with fueling your body with health-ful ratios, eating protein with sweet and/or fat with sweet. For example, apples with nut or seed butter or a chia seed porridge.
- One form of sugar is enough! Choose a different food product if you notice a many variations of sugar (i.e. sucrose, dextrose and erythritol) in the ingredients list. Manufacturers itemize ingredients with largest amounts noted first then to least. Anything ending in “ose,” “ol” indicate sugar derivatives.
- Increase your intake of greens. Examples include lettuce, spinach, kale, celery, chard, parsley, etc… Adding these to sweet smoothies make a nice way to combine minerals with the “love of sweet.”
- Try recipes using ingredients that may be new to you.
Here is a simple and delicious idea from my book:
Credit: Sherry Van Dyke
Oatmeal Goji Cookies® (using chocolate chips instead of goji berries):
- 1 ½ cups rolled oats (works with gluten-free oats too)
- 1 cup brown rice or millet flour
- ¾ tsp xanthan gum (or guar gum)
- ½ tsp se or Himalayan salt
- 4 Tbsp ground flax seed (ground in coffee grinder) plus 3/8 cup warm water
- ½ cup brown rice syrup or pure maple syrup (can use yacon syrup too)
- ¾ cup unrefined virgin coconut oil or walnut or sunflower oil (if using coconut oil, measure it after melting; it is ¾ cup of liquid oil)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp alcohol-free vanilla flavoring
- ½ cup fruit sweetened chocolate chips (Enjoy Life makes a nice allergen-free chip).
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two cookie sheets with unrefined coconut oil.
- Combine oats, flour, xanthan or guar gum, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a small measure cup, combine ground flax seed with warm water and set aside. In another bowl, mix together sweetener, oil and vanilla. Combine the flax mixture with the other wet ingredients.
- Mix together dry and wet ingredients. Fold in the chips (or gojis)
- Drop cookies onto cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes until lightly browned.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes Bake Time: 15 minutes
Serving size: 2 cookies (nutrition facts noted in my book)
Note: I have also made these with 1/3 cup hemp or brown rice protein powder mixed with the dry ingredients. The green color of the hemp protein mixed with the red goji berries makes a nice holiday option.
There are many things you can do to live in harmony with sugar and in life. We already know inherently how to do it; we just forget sometimes ?. Remember to reach for the “sweetness” inside as the key to living in balance with sugar, food and life . It can be as simple as taking a walk, making time for a bath or a delicious cup of tea. Look toward more believing and seeing the beauty and fullness of YOU! Live Big, Live You! I hope you found this post and these suggestions to be helpful. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thanks again to Kath for having me here to share ?.
To read more descriptions of sugar and alternatives, the many names for sugar on food labels and more suggestions of how to address the “reasons for the reach,” and to enjoy sweetness while eating more wholesome choices, pick up a copy of my book Sweetness Without Sugar on Amazon.
For further insight and support on your journey with food and sugar, check out the e-course I co-created with Megan Buer, CECP. Transforming Your Relationship With Food: Sugar Series is an online course designed to empower you with the tools you need to release an unhealthy relationship with sugar. Visit www.sugarseries.com to learn more. Black Friday sale going on now! Visit me at www.vigdorhess.com to sign up for my newsletter, schedule an appointment, purchase products and to stay in touch. Join me on FB at my author page and/or by joining the Sweetness Without Sugar Group.
Credit: Meredith Mckown
Wendy works with children, families and organizations to encourage awareness and overall transformation from the inside out with food and food for thought. You can find her blog, empowering health tips, ways to embrace inner health and wealth on her website.