Sugar…Honey, honey

28 Jan

You’re welcome.  I know this song is stuck in your head now:

I do have a purpose in my blog title.  I’m “beating my body into submission (1 Corinthians 9:27),” and am cutting out all refined sugars and flours.  Why?  Because I’m crazy, I tell ya.  Crazy.  Note the “beating my body…” part.  We are trained to like sugar.  Want it.  Crave it.  Think we need it.  It’s in everything – from the obvious cakes and cookies, cereals and bbq sauce, to ketchup, to mayonnaise, peanut butter, and  my favorite spicy pickled beans.  So why is sugar bad for you?  Isn’t it better than high fructose corn syrup?  Well, here are a few points:
*Sugar raises the insulin level in your blood.  Raised blood insulin levels depress the immune system. If your immune system is depressed,  then your ability to fight disease is weakened.  Which, if you are like me, this is a key factor.
*Insulin promotes the storage of fat; so, when you eat foods high in refined sugar, you increase fat storage. Obviously, the result is  weight gain.
*Refined Sugar contains no vitamins or minerals, so in order for sugar to be metabolized, it must draw on the body’s reserve of vitamins and minerals.  If your system is already low on these vitamins and minerals, you are basically shooting yourself in the foot.
*Sugar can contribute to hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, concentration difficulties, and crankiness in children.  It can also cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children.  Why?  It shocks your body into an energy “high,” then you come crashing down once it’s “buzzed” through your system.
*Sugar is by far the leading cause of dental deterioration – cavities in teeth, bleeding gums, failure of bone structure, and loss of teeth.
*Sugar is the main cause of diabetes, hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.
May I also point out that some of the popular alternatives are just as bad.  Aspartame has been associated w/numerous problems, including dizziness, muscle aches, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, retinal hemorrhaging, seizures, and depression.  It is found in everything from diet sodas, to gum – try looking at any package of gum on the supermarket shelf – it’s in all of them.  How about Splenda?  First of all, like aspartame, it’s artificial.  You wouldn’t dream of eating an artificial apple, so why add the junk to your food/drinks?  Splenda is made by chlorinating sucrose (table sugar), and is found in more than 4,500 food and beverage products.  Because it’s fairly new, there are no studies showing long-term effects of Splenda on the body, but I, for one, prefer not to consume something that’s artificially made to act like sugar and certainly not one that’s produced with chlorine.  What about the newly popular agave syrup craze?  Did you know that Agave Syrup was originally used to make Tequila?  Me either.  When it ferments, it literally turns into tequila, so the enzymatic activity therefore must be stopped so that the syrup will not turn into tequila in your cupboard.  Agave syrup is 90% fructose.  High fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose.  Hmm.  Tests on animals show that the livers of animals fed large amounts of fructose develop fatty deposits and cirrhosis of the liver.  This is similar to the livers of alcoholics.  Consumption of fructose has been shown to cause a significant increase in uric acid.  An increase in uric acid can be an indicator of heart disease.  Doesn’t that make you want to just run out and buy a bottle?

So what are the alternatives?  There are many.
*First of all, try actually eating something w/out any sweeteners.  Learn to taste real food, in its natural state.  Our bodies (minds) have been trained to think we “need” the sugar, when really, we’re missing out on the enjoyment of real food.
*Eat a piece of fruit.  Really
.  It’s naturally sweet.  I used to roll my eyes when people said this, like, yeah, I’d really like to eat an apple instead of a Snickerdoodle.  Right.  But then yesterday, I caramelized some banana in coconut oil and oh my gravy, I’ll take that over a snickerdoodle any day.
*Raw honey.  Not only is it sweet, but it’s good for you.  Honey that has not been heated over 117 degrees is full of enzymes, as well as all the nutrients found in plant pollens.  A word of caution – do some research as to where your honey comes from, and how the bees are fed – some farmers get their bees through the winter by feeding them on high fructose corn syrup.
*Stevia.  I must admit, it took me awhile to get used to this one.  A little bit goes a very, very loooonnnnggg way.  Otherwise, you will have a nasty bitter taste.  Stevia is a sweet powder made from a South American herb.  Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets.
*Maple Syrup.  Pure maple syrup is rich in trace minerals, which is brought up from below ground by the tree’s roots.  In the US, it is classified into two grades – grade A & B.  Grade A is typically lighter in color and has a milder flavor, while Grade B is darker, with a rich maple flavor.  Grade B is generally used for cooking.  Pure maple syrup can tend to be fairly expensive, but it is worth the extra $$$.
*Rapadura.  Otherwise known as dehydrated cane sugar, which the people of India have used for thousands of years.  It is rich in minerals, particularly silica and dietary iron.  It closely mimics sugar in it’s chemical properties, so it is great for baking.
*Coconut Sugar.  It has a nutritional content far richer than all other commercially available sweeteners. Coconut Sugar is especially high in Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc and Iron and is a natural source of the vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C. Coconut Sugar is a 100% Organic, unprocessed, unfiltered, and unbleached natural sweetener.  And contains no preservatives.
*Brown Rice Syrup.  I use this in place of corn syrup in my baking.  Which is important, because I need it to make my “world famous” caramel corn. 🙂  It is made by culturing cooked rice with enzymes to break down the starches, straining off the liquid and reducing it by cooking until the desired consistency is reached.

Here is a recipe I came up with, to try and tame my sugar cravings, and also give me something with good protein, so I don’t feel like I’m getting ripped off by not eating one of those dreaded snickerdoodles.  They were deemed “delicious,” even by my kids, which is saying something.
Peanut Butter Protein Balls
16oz all natural peanut butter (like Adams – I used crunchy, but use what you like)
1 C rolled oats (the old fashioned kind, not instant)
1 C shredded coconut
2 T brown rice syrup
4 squares chopped, sugar free dark chocolate – I get this at Trader Joes, but I’m told you can also find it at Walmart.  It is delicious, and sweetened with maltitol, which is a sugar alcohol.  You can leave the chocolate out if you like, I just wanted a little “treat.”  You could also mix in some chopped carob chips
1T raw Maca powder – good for stress-fighting, increased stamina, boosting labido and combating fatigue.  It has a mild, butterscotch-like flavor.  Not necessary to add, but I like it for the nutrients/benefits.
~Combine all in a food processor or blender, and process until combined and smooth.  Shape into balls, and chill.  Enjoy!

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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Food, Health/Nutrition


2 responses to “Sugar…Honey, honey

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