To start, sugar is not inherently evil, in my opinion. And I’m not alone in that camp. However, there’s definitely controversy over this subject. In fact, the debate over sugar has been heating up for quite some time.
But until we have more definitive evidence against it, I’m going with a more intuitive approach (a term I’m going to borrow, here, from a fellow health blogger I greatly admire), which is all about listening to our bodies. Fact is, we crave sweetness. It’s a natural phenomenon. Our bodies are built for it. Right from day one, babies crave breast milk–a naturally very sweet food!
So don’t feel bad about sugar cravings. Guilt? Not a healthy emotion.
That being said, you do need to be careful about sugar. Excessive sugar will make you gain weight, increase your risk of developing diabetes, and possibly cause even worse health consequences.
There are ways to handle your sugar intake. You just have to know what you’re doing.
In coming posts, I’ll cover various sugar substitutes and sweeteners, but let’s start with sugar itself. It comes in a variety of forms: white sugar and table sugar (technically known as sucrose), brown, raw, Demerara, cane sugar, fruit sugar, and everything in between.
Is there any difference, really, in all these forms? Not much, to be honest. I know it feels like ‘organic’ and ‘raw’ sugar should be better for you. But as far as we know right now, it’s a bit of propaganda that there’s any significant difference. You’ll just be fooling yourself that you’re eating healthfully. A better approach? Monitor your sugar intake, in all forms, and do what you can to cut down (without feeling like you have to cut it out entirely).
So how to do that?
- Read ingredient labels. If sugar is listed as one of the top ingredients, the product probably contains a large amount of sugar. Tread carefully!
- Eat whole foods that are sweetened by nature (not a factory): fruit, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, dairy products…
- Add less sugar to coffee and tea. You can modify your palate, to a certain degree. Get used to half as much sugar, then see if you can cut back even more.
- Reduce sugar in foods you make at home. Try new recipes or modify your own. Start by reducing sugars gradually, and try adding spices like cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, and ginger. Try this: spiced foods will taste sweeter if warmed.
- Buy fewer soft drinks, fruity/sweetened drinks and sweet desserts. Remember: some low-fat desserts may be very high in sugar.
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