7 Good Reasons Not to Give up Sugar this Year

It’s easy to think that cutting out sugar would be a good thing to do for your health.  Some people try to kick their sugar habit as a way to get healthy.

These days a lot of us hold on to the idea that sugar is really bad for us. We tell ourselves:

  • Sugar makes us fat
  • We should feel guilty about eating sugar
  • If we care about our health, we should cut sugar out of our diet

Where are these ideas coming from? I think they are mostly coming from our diet culture. As a result of these cultural ideas about sugar, we think that cutting or reducing all carbohydrates is a quick and effective way to lose weight. That’s the idea behind the keto and paleo diets that everybody cannot stop talking about. It’s true that isolating this food group will have drastic results on your waistline, but what’s going on on the inside might not be ideal for your health.

When I read the The Starch Solution by John McDougall and took this Plant Based Nutrition certification class, my mind was blown.

Here is what I learned:

Our bodies need carbohydrates
There are only three sources of calories – carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Sugar is a carbohydrate and is the primary source of energy for the cells in our bodies. We need carbohydrates to live and thrive. Most of our carbohydrates everyday should come from minimally processed carbohydrates like:

  • Tubers like sweet potatoes and potatoes
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats, bulgar, etc.

All sugar is not equal
Yes, it is certainly true that simple sugars cause problems like tooth decay and elevated fat levels in the body (i.e. triglycerides). It is probably a good idea to shift away from habits like:

  • Drinking processed fruit juice
  • Eating canned fruit in syrup
  • Eating candy 
  • Eating processed junk foods that have a lot of white processed sugars such as cakes, cookies, candies and ice cream.

Sugar tastes good
Why do we eat sugar? Our palettes are naturally tuned to enjoy sweet things, from the first food of breastmilk to natural whole foods like pineapples and sweet potatoes. We are wired to enjoy sweet food.

Sugar is a condiment
A healthier way to eat sugar is to first change your mindset about it.  Treat both natural (honey, maple syrup, brown sugar) and refined sugars as a condiment (rather than an ingredient). Season your food with a small amount of sugar (just like you do with salt) to get the biggest flavour impact.

Focus on healthier sugars
Instead of mindlessly eating large amounts of processed sugar, allow yourself to enjoy a teaspoon or two of naturally occuring sugars like:

  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Dates and date sugar

Sugar and starches with high GI help you maintain healthy weight
The Glycemic Index (GI) measures the rise in blood sugar after eating. Your blood sugar is supposed to rise after eating – in fact, it’s the whole point of eating. Good to know that technically, the GI of a slice of cheesey, oily pizza and a piece of chocolate cake is much lower than the GI of a bag of raw carrots and a bowl of boiled potatoes: which one will contribute more to your health?

Enjoy Moderation
Enjoying sugar in moderation will enhance your enjoyment of healthy foods and therefore help you maintain a healthy weight.

Here are a few recipes that will help you enjoy sugar this month:

Your turn: please share your favourite ways to enjoy sugar in the comments below.

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