Sugar can not only derail your diet, it can lead to chronic disease such as fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and much more. In the short term, consuming too much sugar depresses the immune system, causes a rise in blood sugar levels following by the “sugar crash.” All of this does nothing to help you if you are trying to lose weight or maintain it.
Knowing the full truth about how dangerous sugar is can be the first step — the motivation to get it out of your diet. And to find out, just how devastating sugar really is check out Dr. Robert H. Lustig’s 90-minute lecture, Sugar: The Bitter Truth, posted on YouTube. He is professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California-San Francisco, and as the lecture title succinctly captures it, the truth about sugar is bitter. But more than a handful of people want to know about it; in the past two years it has been viewed more than 1.8 million times on YouTube, making it an unusual viral video. Click here to watch the lecture in its entirety. Or check out the video at the end of the post of his appearance on ABC News Nightline outlining some of the harsh facts; it’s the Cliff Notes version of the sad story of sugar and what it has done to us collectively.
Now the problem has been identified. And it seems the sugar is not too difficult to identify either. Yes, we know a slice of pecan pie or a glazed doughnut or a 32-ounce soft drink is not appropriate for a healthy diet plan. But the trouble is there are hidden sugars. While in the weight loss, diabetic, fitness, bodybuilding and alternative medicine communities sugar has never been a welcome resident, mainstream organizations are coming out with more strongly worded warnings about sugar. No less than the American Heart Association recommends that added sugars be limited to 6 teaspoons for women (the equivalent of 2 tablespoons) and 9 teaspoons for men (equivalent of 2-1/2 tablespoons). Click here for the guidelines.
Sugar is rampant in processed foods, as it is a part of that trio — sugar, fat and salt — that make these foods literally addicting, as studies have shown, due to the way they impact the pleasure centers of the brain. While there is a collective awareness brewing about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) — to the point that the corn industry is now trying to rebrand it as “corn sugar” and “natural,” it does not change the devastation it causes to the body. And yes, there are numerous alternative names for sugar that you will see on food labels. Just a few of them are dextrose, maltodextrin, corn sweetener, sucrose, lactose, glucose, honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrate, brown sugar, and malt syrup. There are others, and you can find a comprehensive list of these sneaky synonyms for sugar (50 in total!) at Dietriffic.
Getting sugar out of breakfast may mean changing the menu. A new study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) — sugar in children’s cereal — serves to underscore how sugary those cereals really are. Topping the list of worst cereals…Kellogg’s Honey Smacks with a staggering 55.6 percent. The cereal was once more appropriately known as Kellogg’s Sugar Smacks. Very helpful, too is the list of best cereals. Not only are they lower in sugar, but also selected for an absence of pesticides and GMOs (genetically modified organisms). There’s also a list of major brands of conventional cereals which are the best choices, though not free of pesticides and GMOs. Among them, Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats and General Mills’ original Cheerios.
Jess Parsons offers some practical tips for eliminating refined sugar from your daily diet in 5 ways and suggests some healthy sugar alternatives — including blackstrap molasses and stevia — as healthier alternative sweeteners. Be sure to check out the many links to resources and scientific studies underscoring the need to keep the health consequences of excess sugar in mind, as motivation to make the change. See more at Vegsource.
Ideally we can get rid of sugar by getting all of the processed foods out of our diet, and being cautious as we add the healthy alternatives and making sure they are truly healthy. For instance, Beware of honey and products sweetened honey, as it will likely be honey that has been cooked and essentially devoid of any nutritional benefit. Just recently a report came out showing that numerous brands of honey on supermarket shelves do not contain honey (!), meaning they have been so microfiltered that there is no remaining pollen. Read the full report at Food Safety News.
And finally, once we know the sobering facts about sugar, quitting cold turkey is always an option. After a few days of literal withdrawal, we do lose our tastes for and cravings for those sugary foods that were so addicting. Making a clean break is in fact cornerstone of some diet plans such as Neal Barnard’s 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart and Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Diet, just to mention a couple. Knowing that the addiction really is an addiction, can be somewhat of a relief. I found that to be the case. Looking back on my childhood, adolescent and early adult days of obsessing over various sweet treats and feeling the guilt for indulging, I realize it was an addiction and thankfully one that I did come to grips with and end, cold turkey.
Skinny Bliss readers, what has been your experience with getting sugar out of your diet? Have you succeeded?
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