Each day whether we realize it or not, we are faced with one of our biggest enemies. No… not fat, not complex carbs – we actually need those. I am talking about sugar, the sweet stuff that, as Marry Poppin’s puts it so well “makes the medicine go down.” While it may make the medicine go down, it also makes the weight and several other health risks go up. Some of these health risks include: type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, faster rate of aging, and a weakened immune system.
I spent some R&R time at the Santa Monica Public Library recently (it was so well-kept!), and came across the book “Get the Sugar Out,” written by Ann Louise Gittleman. The entire book gives tips and advice on how to cut out added refined sugars from our diets. Decreasing and cutting out added sugar is one way to progress to a more “raw” diet, since the majority of processed foods are woven with sugar.
Processed and high-glycemic foods, which are both loaded with sugar, can greatly spike your blood sugar levels. Whether you are diabetic or not, this is will result in complications in the long-run. During digestion when the sugar is broken down and dumped into the blood-stream, your insulin levels increase to help clear the sugar. When there is too much, your body is working hard to clear it of the blood stream, you begin to feel fatigued and come down from that sugar high. Now after time, if you frequently over-consume too much sugar, your body builds a resistance and will only recruit insulin into the blood stream to clear the sugar if the amount is high enough. This ends up leading to miscellaneous glucose flowing through the blood stream, which can eventually cause blood clotting and type II diabetes. GROSS!
Here are a few personal tips, as well as a few I found useful in the “Get the Sugar Out” book:
- Stay away from as much processed foods as possible!
- Incorporate unprocessed foods such as: poultry, meat, fish, eggs, legumes, whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits (preferably low-glycemic fruit).
- Watch out for hidden sugar that are lurking within condiments, such as ketchup.
- Be aware of other forms of sugar, such as brown rice syrup, corn syrup, high fructose syrup, etc.
- Nix the sugar and artificial sweeteners for natural sugar substitutes:
- Vanilla extract
- Lemon, Lime, or Orange Zest
- Mint Extract
- Almond Extract
- Cinnamon — my personal favorite
Helpful Hint: Cinnamon is a complete hidden treasure as it has been shown to help regulate blood sugar by increasing the body’s insulin sensitivity to help metabolize sugar from the blood stream at a faster rate.
Low Glycemic Foods (as seen in Ann Louise Gittleman’s book):
Soybeans & edamame, peanuts, lentils, plums, peaches, grapefruit, cherries, apples, pears, tomato soup, black-eyes peas, chickpeas, milk, yogurt (plain, not the fruit on the bottom), sweet potato, navy beans, steel-cut oatmeal, grapes, and oranges.
My Week-long Challenge to You: This up coming week, do yourself a favor…cut back on as much sugar as possible. This will take extra time to actually look at nutritional labels as to the sugar content and most importantly the ingredient list. If there is sugar in the nutrition label, and “sugar” or other sugar forms are listed within the ingredients…then it is added — try to keep that in moderation. On the flip side, if sugar is not listed within the ingredients, then that means the food naturally has sugar in it, like fruit for example. Good Luck!
I can tell you first hand, I began doing this back in January, and as difficult as it was, my level of happiness was far higher by the end of the week. I felt like I had more natural energy, and was not as drowsy. And to show you’re not alone, my boyfriend Mat has decided to cut back on his sugar intake as well — this is the guy who gets twice as much fro-yo as me, topped with sprinkles and at least one gummy worm hidden inside 😉
But here is the catch: If you have a craving…go for it, never restrict yourself (yes, I know that sounds quite contradictory; however, if you practice portion control and moderation, you will be 10-times more successful in your health & fitness goals.