"Like heroin, cocaine, and caffeine, sugar is an addictive, destructive drug, yet we consume it daily in everything from cigarettes to bread." - William Dufty, author of Sugar Blues.
Did you know that the average Canadian consumes 26 teaspoons of sugar, the recommended amount is 6 teaspoons per day! Humans love sweet things! Before we started refining sugar, we sought out foods with sweet tastes. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that occurs naturally in foods such as grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. When unprocessed sugar contains a variety of vitamins, enzymes, proteins, minerals. Refined table sugar, also called sucrose, is very different. Extracted from either sugar cane or beets, sucrose lacks vitamins, minerals and fibre and this requires more energy from the body to digest. Sugar qualifies as an addictive substance because 1. Eating even a small amount creates a desire for more. 2. Going cold turkey causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue.
Today sugar can be found in obvious places such as cakes, cookies, and candy. But it can also hide secretly in products such as canned vegetables, baby food, cereals, peanut butter, bread and tomato sauce.
Let’s apply the concept of yin and yang to our food. Yin foods are foods and beverages like alcohol, sugar, honey and spices, dairy, oil, tropical fruit, local fruits, nuts and seeds, tofu, roots and winter squash, beans, sea vegetables. Yang foods are foods like sea salt, eggs, miso and tamari, red meat, cheese, poultry, fish, grains. Our bodies are smart and does what it can to return to balance. When the body is too yin, it will seek certain yang foods to bring it back to balance. The opposite is also true. People who are too yang look to sugar to make them feel more relaxed and expansive (yin). Salt, meat and lots of starchy food cause a yang condition in the body, which makes people feel tight and tense. It also causes constipation. Sugar has the opposite effect as it temporarily relaxes the body by causing the release of serotonin, the happy hormone. Protein and water imbalances can also cause sugar cravings. When we don't drink enough water, we crave sugar. When we eat an excessive amount of meat (yang), we crave sugar to balance it (yin).
What can you do to minimize your sugar consumption?
1. Ditch the fruit juice, sodas and energy/sports drinks
2. Switch to full-fat dairy
3. Avoid sauces (or make them at home from scratch)
4. East savoury breakfasts
5. Cook at home
6. Treat your sugar cleanse as a curious experiment
Your body detoxes from sugar quick! In just 2 weeks you will start to see a difference in your skin and taste buds. In 4 weeks your body will start to detox and in 6 weeks - your body will recalibrate, even your appetite will change.
If you have children, simple ways to reduce sugar consumption can be:
1. Swap out sugar-covered cereal with an item that has 5 ingredients or less - and keep sugar under 10g.
2. Focus on whole grains, vegetables, and fruit when packing lunches.
3. Replace sugary sports drinks, soda, and juices with naturally sweetened water, teas or milk.
4. Skip the ice cream and serve icy snacks like homemade fruit sorbets and frozen bananas.
5. Switch out candies, cookies and cake with wholesome snacks and fruits (apples with peanut butter, peaches and plain yoghurt, whole wheat crackers and cheese).
Health Coach and Yoga Instructor
Follow Kristine on Instagram: @kristinefaz
Leave a comment for Kristine! If you have any questions for her about sugar, let us know.