Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kicking sugar to the curb

SUGAR. Where do I start? 


I often hear people say that money is the root of all evil. Well, in my opinion and my knowledge about the human body, sugar is the root of all evil! 

I don't want to get too side-tracked here, and go on a 3 page boring rant about how bad sugar is for you. But, here are a few important things to know:

 • There are different forms of sugar: glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, galactose, lactose..... You get the point. 

• Sugar is in mostly everything. Sugar is a carbohydrate. Simple carbohydrates or complex carbohydrates, both are sugar

• Glucose, is the most broken down form of sugar, and this is what our bodies (organs such as the brain for example) run on for fuel.

• I'm not a calorie counter, and I honestly just hate the saying the word because everyone goes crazy over the 7 letter word 'calorie', but there are 16 calories in one teaspoon of sugar... THAT IS 16 CALORIES OF EMPTINESS. Eat 16 calories of something that is providing you with nutrients.

• The relationship that our body has with sugar, is similar to that of a drug addict's. Scary thought, eh? When we ingest sugar, our body gets that "aaaaaah" feeling, caused by chemical reactions release endorphins when we have sugar. It causes a series of events that boosts serotonin levels and makes us happy campers!

But if our bodies crave it, and our brain uses it as fuel, it's not bad right? No-siree, my friend. Too much sugar causes free radical damage in the body, and free radicals are bad news. They damage our healthy cells by stealing their electrons, which cause imbalances and more free radical damage in the body. Too much free radicals in the body = someones gonna get hurt real bad (please say this in the voice of Russell Peters for the full effect). 

So now that I've explained just a few brief things about sugar, you're probably wondering what happens in the body and how sugar is a free radical right? Well get ready for the rant...
Sugar gets ingested, and the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin so that the glucose can attach to insulin receptors, and be absorbed into the cell where it is used as fuel. This is an efficient body function that our bodies have mastered because we've been doing this since we have existed. However, our bodies mastered this function when we were eating mostly a Palaeolithic diet that composed of mostly free-game meats, and fresh fruits and veggies (not a lot of sugar)... With todays standard American diet, our bodies simply can't keep up with all of this nonsense that we put into our bodies. We haven't evolved to eat skittles, cookies from a box, and donuts from Tim Hortons. And I hate to be the bad news bear, but we're going to die before ourThe insulin receptors are deaf now, and do not listen to the glucose anymore. This is how sugar (glucose) becomes a free radical. The glucose stays in our blood stream and decides to crash the party. It starts going around to healthy cells and damages them. This is what causes a series of events such as diabetes, cancer, candida/parasites, Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, depression and anxiety.  One of the biggest contributors to an imbalanced body is your frienemy, sugar..
bodies will adapt to that type of lifestyle. Our bodies can't keep up with the glucose that we're ingesting and it's causes us to become insulin resistant!! That means that our insulin is always swimming in our blood stream and it can't let the glucose in to the cells for fuel anymore. It's like the boy who cried wolf. 

Now that I've told you that your favourite thing in the world is terrible for you, I should probably tell you about how to kick it to the curb for good. Here are some tips to help you say good-bye to sugar, and stop being so dependant on it!


Step One: Don't buy it in the first place
This is the first step. When you see cookies, granola bars, and other refined foods such as chips, walk away. Tell yourself that you are a King or Queen, and your body deserves better than that. Bump up your standard. You deserve only the best quality ingredients for the best quality you. If you know that you're going to drool when you walk by the evil isle, don't go down it. What's down that isle that you really need anyways? More packaged and refined foods? Do yourself a favour and try to avoid it completely. 

Step Two: Super basic food combining
Try to eat balanced foods, that don't have a nutritional label on them. I'm talking about produce! Fill your fridge with whole foods, that have all of the vitamins, minerals, fibers, and proteins already in the food that haven't been chemically removed, and synthetically added back in. If you eat raspberries or strawberries for example, it's not likely going to spike your glucose and insulin levels as consuming a chocolate bar would. What I did when I was first starting to reduce sugar from my life, was eating balanced snacks. So when I was eating something that had high sugar content such as an apple for example, I would try to eat it with some nut butter, so that the fat and protein content in the butter would cause the sugar from the apple to digest slowly. This way, I managed my blood sugar levels so that I didn't get "hangry" later on. (Ever been "hangry?" So hungry that you are a completely different person because you're so angry? Don't be that person. I used to be, and it's just an emotional roller coaster. Eat a balanced meal!) 

Step Three: Find a good substitute!
This part is awesome, because it's like you're tricking yourself. Finding a good substitute such as xylitol, stevia, coconut sugar, apple sauce, and bananas, and even maple syrup (in small amounts) are great ways to make baked goods sweet, without adding the refined and processed stuff. There are plenty of recipes out there to choose from, and once my blog gets bigger in the recipe department, you'll be able to choose them from here!

Step Four: Snacks
Be prepared for sugar cravings by having snacks ready-to-eat for when the feeling kicks in. Make some healthy cookies or granola bars with some extra protein and a good sugar substitute. This will help to reduce the urge of chasing down someone who has a donut in their hand. Have some nuts and seeds on you so you can snack on them for when you get that munchie feeling, but you're not really hungry. 

You run the show. Be a champ. Tell sugar who's the boss here! 

Step Five: Slow and steady wins the race
When I quit sugar, it was a few month process. I didn't want to completely avoid going out with my friends or having a little cheat here and there. Luckily I was a student in the Holistic Nutrition program so all of my meals were inspired by making a healthier decision, towards a life of thriving, instead of just surviving.

Live by the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy 80% of the time, so that the 20% of the time when you enjoy that chai tea latte or piece of ice-cream cake, you can enjoy it; and your body will forgive you. 

Step Six: Don't forget to eat
Too often, when we forget to eat our breakfast or lunch, and we make up by gorging on a huge meal. This is bad for our blood sugar as it spikes up when we eat, and then will crash after a few hours. Remember Step Four. Keep healthy snacks on you so that if you are in the position where you're stuck in traffic or just can't eat a meal for whatever reason, you can at least have a snack and prevent your blood sugar from falling low.

Keep your blood sugar regulated by eating regularly. It's doing everyone a favour trust me!

Step Seven: Get support
Switching to a healthier lifestyle doesn't always have to be a bore. Make it fun and bring your friends and family on board with you. If your friends and family aren't ready to make a personal switch, just let them know of your plan to quit sugar, and get a good support system. Want a support system that you can eat? (Well duuuh. Who doesn't?) Get xylitol candies... They really help and taste quite good. I made the switch to a life without refined sugar by myself, and I think that loving the kitchen and my love towards cooking and baking helped me out. It came naturally for me to experiment and try out new foods. If it comes naturally for you, great. If it doesn't, then ask for help! I'm always here to answer questions. 

On a side note: I will soon be starting my practice where I will offer in-home teaching classes for groups. I will teach you and your friends or family how to prepare healthy meals, as well as tasty snacks for everyone to enjoy. If this interests you, please contact me!

Sugar cycle photo credited to www.googlygooeys.com


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am an RHN-Holistic Nutritionist. The health information contained herein is to share my knowledge and recipes. Any information provided is not intended to treat or cure any disease, or to replace any discussions with a health care provider. You, the reader, are personally responsible for ensuring the safe application of anything described herein. Read the Scope of Practice, as well as the Code of Ethics of an RHN-Holistic Nutritionist.

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