Have a great day - eat something healthy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sugar, Sugar

Sugar. There’s no getting around it – we love it. And that should come as no surprise, considering it’s in almost everything we eat. But, aside from the taste – and the high – there’s not much good about it.

For the purposes of simplicity, let’s look at sugar just like we’re looking at gluten – as a processed food. And in that sense, it’s something to be avoided.

To be sure, sugar occurs naturally in certain foods – and that’s a good thing because sugar (or glucose) is a natural fuel for the body. It’s when we start supplementing the naturally-occurring sugar that we get into trouble.

Here are a few things that processed sugar does to the body: “Refined sugar has been linked to hypoglycemia, yeast overgrowth, a weakened immune system, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, enlargement of the liver and kidneys, increase of uric acid in the blood, mental and emotional disorders, dental cavities and an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.”1

And I’m no scientist, but here are some interesting facts I’ve found in my research about sugar: “Bone char, made from the bones of cows, is at times used to whiten sugar. Some sugar companies use it in filters to decolorize their sugar." 2 Bone char?! During this cleanse we're not eating ANY animal products - bone char is definitely off limits! And disgusting! And if you think brown sugar is any better, it's just bleached sugar with molasses added to it.3

“Maintaining and harvesting sugar cane can be unhealthy and dangerous for the workers. Their work involves the use of sharp machetes and at times exposure to hazardous chemicals."Nobody wants to eat hazardous chemicals - that’s a given. But more importantly, the karma that comes with eating food grown by people who are being treated unjustly has got to be pretty awful.

“Refined sugar is 99 % pure crystalline sucrose. When eaten, it enters the blood stream very fast, quickly elevating your blood sugar level. The pancreas responds by releasing insulin. This lowers your blood sugar level, resulting in irritability and fatigue. A cycle begins where you crave more sugar to raise your blood sugar levels again.”5 And that’s where the mood and energy swings begin.

And given that the average American eats 140 pounds – yes, I said POUNDS – of sugar in a year, maybe that's why people are ruder and fatter than ever! That figure is from 2005 – it’s probably higher today - and it breaks down to 22 teaspoons a day (teens do an average of 34 teaspoons a day). “One can of soda has 10 teaspoons, and 10 teaspoons is the maximum amount of sugar we should be eating in an entire day to be healthy.”6

And finally, “One can of soda per day can put on 10 pounds per year.”7

So here’s the good news – eliminate sugar and you’ll probably level out a bit emotionally. Your belly will probably level out too.

1 From "Skinny Bitch," quoting from “Sugar Blues,” Natural Nutrition, livrite.com
2 Vegfamily.com
3 recomparison.com
4 fairfood.org
5 Excerpted from betterworldbaking.com
6 From "The Splendid Table," radio broadcast on January 16, 2010
7 From "The Doctors," television broadcast on February 3, 2010


  1. I know I know. But I MISS DESSERTS. Anybody out there have any suggestions or recipes for a decent dessert with no sugar? I've experimented with substituting with agave, but have not come up with anything except chocolate candies. And chocolate is off limits!

  2. Hi, Jeannie -

    I've been looking through all my dessert recipes and every one needs major modifications. And I haven't gotten into the kitchen to give them a try. It's hard to meet all the criteria of the cleanse and satisfy a sweet tooth. Sweets are loaded with egg, dairy, sugar, and gluten - a lot of times the really good ones have 'em all! So swapping everything usually ends up in disappointment or disaster. But here's a simple fix that I go to pretty regularly - I don't eat my oats for breakfast; instead I have them as a snack or for dessert. I load them up with a mixture of good cinnamon and stevia, top 1/4C of walnuts, and a handful of raisins. It's the next best thing to an oatmeal raisin cookie and it's quick and easy to make. I've also got a recipe for a raw pumpkin cheesecake, which Kathleen (of ongoing cleanse fame) and I liked, but Mark couldn't stand. I'll post that in a while. And Christina, another cleanse alum, shared a recipe for blueberry muffins, which I'll post shortly as well. During the cleanse I usually try to go to fruits for my sweet fixes - pineapple is great, so are Honeycrisp apples and raisins. I guess that's why I haven't spent as much time figuring out dessert recipes - I like to take a break from the sugar overload and let my tastebuds readjust...

  3. Here's Christina's recipe for blueberry muffins...

    I found a recipe for gluten-free blueberry muffins and made a few tweaks to also make it sugar and dairy-free...they turned out wonderfully! I am not big on accurate measuring when I bake
    but here is approximately what I did... Christina

    Blueberry Gluten/Dairy-Free Muffins

    Gluten-Free flour - 2 cups
    Baking Soda - 1 .5 teaspoons
    Sea Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
    Lemon zest from 2 lemons
    1/4 Cup Agave sweetener
    Unsweetened almond milk - 1 cup
    Organic unsweetened Applesauce - 1/3 cup
    apple cider vinegar - 1 tablespoon
    olive/canola oil - 1 tablespoon
    Vanilla - 1 teaspoon
    Cinnamon - 1 teaspoon
    Blueberries, fresh or frozen - 1 and 1/2 cups
    (I think any berries, banana or apple would work well too!)

    Yield: 12 muffins.

    Preheat the oven to 375F - Lightly grease a muffin tin. In a medium bowl, combine together flour, baking soda, salt and lemon zest. In a large bowl, combine the agave, milk, oil, applesauce, and vinegar. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stir until just combined. Don't over stir. Gently fold in the berries using a rubber spatula. Fill the muffin tins about 2/3rds full. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. After that remove the muffins.

  4. And here's the pumpkin cheesecake recipe I found... I didn't even make the candied pecans but I still really enjoyed it. No baking required - I loved that!

    Pumpkin Pecan Spice Cheesecake

    Makes 2 cups
    2 cups soaked pecans,
    ¼ cup maple syrup (not a raw product)
    ½ teaspoon organic vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
    ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
    ¼ teaspoon sea salt
    2 cups soaked pecans
    2 teaspoons ground ginger
    1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    ½ teaspoon ground cloves
    ½ teaspoon organic vanilla extract
    ¼ teaspoon sea salt
    1 cup of dates, unsoaked
    Process nuts, spices, vanilla and salt in a food processor until fine; add dates. Continue to process until well incorporated. Transfer the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom. Place the pan in the refrigerator until filling is ready.
    3 cups of cashews, soaked for 1 hour to soften
    ½ cup lemon juice
    ½ cup carrot juice
    ¼ cup raw agave nectar
    1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
    2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
    Mix cashews, lemon juice, carrot juice, agave, spice and vanilla in blender; process until smooth and creamy. Make sure the filling has no lumps. Pour the cheese mixture onto the crust. Place the cheesecake into the freezer for 4 hours or until firm. Let come to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with candied pecans.

  5. I loved the raw pumpkin cheesecake. It was very satisfying and not too sweet. My problem with sugar is that when I eat something sweet I want more and more and more. Since doing these cleanses I have drastically reduced my sugar consumption.
    Keep up the good work everyone!!