Once upon a time, there was a sweet, sweet girl. Her favorite foods were desserts. Her favorite breakfasts were danishes, doughnuts, and sweet rolls. She didn’t just eat sweets every day… she ate them at every meal.
Whether it was sugar in her coffee, a spoonful of Nutella after lunch, or that store-bought, syrupy, salad dressing on her big bowl of greens at dinner.
She thought she was eating healthy. She didn’t eat ‘desserts’ but her diet was loaded with sugar.
That was me.
I was so addicted to sugar, and I didn’t even know it.
In today’s world, many savory foods are actually sweets in disguise. Highly sweetened, processed and refined foods found at the supermarket today become mostly sugar once they enter our bodies.
Consuming a diet high in sugar has been linked to an increased risk of many diseases, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. (source)
“Before 1910 cancer and heart disease were very rare. Today they cause an estimated 70% of all deaths in the U.S. Almost 50% of all Americans battle with chronic illnesses.”*
On the other hand:
In a worldwide study (conducted by Dr. Weston Price) of isolated people in many different countries, he found a pattern in practically all of them. Their diets were very different but they had one thing in common. They ate traditional, whole, unrefined foods. And they enjoyed superb health.
Soon after adapting to a diet of sugared, processed and devitalized modern foods, they became weak and sickly, plagued with rotten teeth and many modern diseases.**
When the healthy, isolated people of the world were introduced to a western diet (Thank you America) they all got sick.
We all know we should lower our sugar intake, but many of us are not aware that we are even eating sugar.
And, it’s not always your fault. The food companies are sneaky. Many foods sold today are filled with hidden sugar and do not taste sweet.
Here are some foods that are typically high in sugar (when commercially made), some may surprise you:
- Low-fat Yogurt
- Flavored coffee creamer
- Iced Tea
- BBQ Sauce
- Spaghetti sauce
- Peanut butter
- Granola, Protein bars, cereal bars
- Premade soups
- Canned baked beans
- Store bought buns, rolls, bread, etc
- Fruit juice, soft drinks, smoothies, sports drinks
- salad dressings
- Crackers and boxed snack foods
- Even most “pancake syrups” are sugar
I went on a “Homesteaders Food Challenge” in 2016 and ate only food from my own hands for 101 days just to see if I could do it. It was 14 weeks of only meat we raised, veggies we grew, grains we ground, dairy products from our cow, and maple syrup from trees. More on that here.
It was such an amazing experience. I felt like I was 25 again. I lost weight. I was healthier.
I think one of my biggest takeaways from the entire experience was the amount of sugar in my diet.
Most of us are fully addicted, going from one sugar high to the next.
We go from our sugar-filled breakfast to lunch that involves store-bought bread, unhealthy deli meat, and salads doused in dressings filled with additives and sweeteners.
People often reach for a sweet treat in the afternoon to get us through (soft drink, energy drink, cereal/ protein bars or maybe a heaping spoonful of Nutella). Then at dinner, we slather our salads with sweet dressings, glaze our carrots and dump brown sugar on our yams.
We are going from one sugar high to the next and our bodies are totally addicted. Just try to take away the sweets and watch the revolt. It’s ugly.
I pretty much doomed myself when I told all of you I was going on the Homesteaders Food Challenge. It didn’t matter how much my body tried to kill me, I promised you I would only eat food from my hands & I wasn’t going to cheat.
The sugar crash was the worst part, but like all things, it did pass and I am so much better for it.
When it ended, so did my reliance on sugar. Here I am 2 years later and I still avoid sugar like it’s toxic (it kinda is).
Before you proclaim your bondage to sugar as unbreakable. Hear me out.
#1. Once you give up Sugar the Cravings Will Stop
The sugar cravings are not forever. Once you get past the initial detox, you will no longer crave the sweets.
#2. Once You Give Up Sugar You’ll Enjoy Other Flavors More
After your taste buds adjust to the lack of sweets, they will change. You will actually enjoy herbs and natural savory flavorings more. My love for sweets has definitely been replaced with a love for spice, cream, and BIG flavors.
#3. When You Need to Buy New (smaller) Pants You’ll Probably be Sold
I can’t promise weight loss, but I can tell you that when you give up sugar, there are bound to be consequences in your energy level, how you feel, and even your waistline.
#4. You can Eat Natural Sweeteners
Natural sweeteners, like honey, maple syrup, and stevia (the plant, not the powder) can all be used for healthy, sugar-free eating.
#5. Once you are SugarFree You can indulge (on Rare Occasions)
When you do enjoy something sweet – be sure it is as healthy as can be. Use raw, cultured butter, pastured eggs, freshly milled flour, and a raw form of raw organic sugar (cane juice crystals, sucanat, sorghum or maple sugar).
For the most ‘sugar-like’ results use maple sugar or sucanat.
Maple sugar is dehydrated maple syrup. Sucanat is dehydrated cane sugar juice. Both have great flavor and are rich in minerals. These are the easiest to exchange for sugar in recipes.
WARNING: When breaking free from a sugar addiction, do not continue to eat all your favorite treats made with maple sugar or sucanat. You must ditch the sweets completely or your taste buds will not change and your body will still crave the regular doses of sweets.
To truly make a life change, go sweet-free for a month. Once you have changed your stars, you can add a healthy sweet (on occasion).
However, you may find that you enjoy your new (sugarfree) life and smaller pants more than you like the desserts.
I don’t even want dessert anymore.
I have wine.
If you’ve been trying to lose weight, get healthy or fit back into your skinny jeans, it may be as simple as dropping the sugar.
Just do it! Ditch the sugar & enjoy the benefits of sugar-free living. The changes in your health will be noticeable. The future diseases and illnesses you could be avoiding are numerous.
Click the “Tell me more” button to go to a (short) video about my endeavors to raise all my food.
*Wholesome Sugarfree Cooking. Yutzy, Malinda. Carlisle Printing, OH 2006. pp. V
**Wholesome Sugarfree Cooking, Yutzy, Malinda. Carlisle Printing, OH 2006. pp. IV