One of the biggest motivating factors for people wanting to stop spiking their blood sugar, is weight loss. The human body is designed to burn fats for energy, not sugars. But because high glycemic foods are eaten at nearly every American meal, our bodies, since childhood, learn to use sugar as a primary energy source.
When we have the discipline to gradually switch our body’s energy source to good fats, weight loss is a natural result…along with a drastic decrease in chances of developing not only diabetes, but heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, Alzheimer’s, systemic inflammation, thyroid dysfunction, and osteoporosis, to name a few!…more about this research here
Refined sugars are considered toxins by most alternative health practitioners today. They run through our blood stream, and actually rob us of valuable vitamins and minerals. Also, our hormones, body chemistry and brain chemistry are all directly affected by spikes and dips in our blood sugar. When we spike our blood sugar throughout the day, our hormones and body chemistry jump around wildly as well. Over time, this is disastrous for our health. No wonder so many of us are hormonally out of whack!
One of the very first steps to better health is to eliminate the physical and psychological need for spiking the blood sugar. It’s like a drug. When you have a sugary treat at a certain time of the day, you’ll crave sugar right around that same time the next day. It’s a slippery slope…
When you quit eating it, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches and tiredness for about 2 weeks. Throughout the first 2 months of quitting, the urge to have it will still be very strong. So…
Tip #1) Quit sugar gradually, gently weaning yourself over several weeks, sometime after Jan 1st, as sugary foods are everywhere around the holidays.
Tip #2) Get enough re-mineralized water throughout the day
Tip #3) Take kelp tablets or ‘Sweet Ease” by Banyan Botanicals (or both!) to reduce sugar cravings
Tip #4) Quit sugar with others you live or work with, as most people need lots of support in making this transition.
Tip #5) The first few weeks, carry organic raisins, figs or prunes with you in your car or purse. You’ll need to pop a handful at the time of day you usually have that cookie, etc, to take the edge off of the sugar withdrawal headache and fatigue. Moderate amounts of treats made with sprouted or cultured whole grains and/or any of the whole sugar (unrefined) sweeteners mentioned below will also take the edge off of those sugar-withdrawal symptoms.
Most modern people, since childhood (myself included), are raised on sugar-laden foods (or on foods which quickly turn into sugar once eaten). Usually, into adulthood, we don’t even want to get off this roller coaster because spiking the blood sugar is extremely addicting. Sugar is addicting because it gives us a superficial energy spurt, from which we quickly crash, and which depletes our adrenal glands.
The saddest part of this scenario, is that eventually, we are only satisfied with the shallow-sweet flavor of sugary foods, instead of being satisfied with the deep-sweet flavor of oats or short grain brown rice. ‘Oats and brown rice are sweet?’, you may ask. Yes, when chewed well, whole grains yield what macrobiotics calls a “deep-sweet” flavor. You will begin to taste this deep-sweet flavor as you eat more and more whole foods, and leave packaged foods to the wayside. Yes, our taste buds change and become more sensitive to natural flavors over time, on the path of transition from refined foods to whole foods. Hooray!
There are different levels of food’s capacity to spike our blood sugar. Refined sugars like cane sugar and corn syrup push our blood sugar the highest – way too high for good health. The various names for refined sugars which spike the blood sugar dangerously high are: white sugar, cane sugar, organic cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup, fructose, white grape or fruit juice concentrate, and commercial honey. All honey is refined by bees, and therefore spikes the blood sugar like other refined sugars do. Pasteurized, commercial honey is sold at mainstream grocery stores is bad for the body, whereas raw honey in small amounts (preferably from a local source) is beneficial for the body and easier to digest because of the minerals and live enzymes in it. All honey is still very high-glycemic, so try to use no more than 1 teaspoon at a time.
Agave syrup or agave nectar sold in health food stores is highly refined (unrefined agave syrup is thick and dark like molasses), and refined agave contains 90% fructose. It therefore has worse long-term effects than high fructose corn syrup, which has 55% fructose…..more about this research here
Xylitol and Maltitol are made from sugar alcohol. They’re sugar substitutes which act like sugar in baking recipes, but which have a low-medium reading on the glycemic index, so they’re often used in “sugar-free” sweet products. The down side is that more that 1tsp of Xylitol per serving can lead to irritated bowels. Maltitol also acts like sugar in baking recipes, but any more than 1/2tsp will usually irritate the bowels.
Okay. Here’s the list of unrefined (unprocessed) sugars which haven’t been stripped of natural minerals – minerals which slow sugar’s absorption into the bloodstream, and are lower on the glycemic index. “Sucanat” or “Rapidura” sugar, coconut sugar, and palm sugar are granular (they look like sand) and they can easily be used for baking, cup for cup, in place of white sugar. Some other natural, unrefined sources of sugar worth experimenting with are yacon powder and mesquite powder, but be aware that these have unique aftertastes. The other unrefined sugars in liquid form are: barley malt syrup, brown rice syrup, small amounts of raw honey, grade B maple syrup, yacon syrup, and organic molasses.
For those on candida diets (no kind of sugar whatsoever is allowed) stevia leaf extract is a natural, no-sugar, no-calorie sweetener. The best stevia I’ve found with no bitter aftertaste is Nu Naturals brand liquid vanilla flavored stevia with “singing dog” vanilla bean). Luo Han is another natural sweetener from a plant, and is worth experimenting with. It’s said to be 250 times sweeter than sugar (similar to stevia), so add a pinch to your tea, or maybe a 1/4 tsp to your favorite dessert to see how you like it!
When we are off sugar and in balance, we can more easily quiet our minds to know what is the best action in any given moment. It’s from this place that we can go forward in the world, and more effectively make it a better place.
Here’s 2 Great RECIPES to get you through the transition off refined sugar
Carob-Coconut Cloud – a fantastic dessert OR breakfast!
2 cups any leftover grain (brown rice or millet/amaranth are great!)
1 Tbsp coconut oil, butter or ghee
½ tsp fine ground sea salt
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice OR ½ tsp each cinnamon & nutmeg
2Tbsp carob powder and 1tsp cacao powder
6 drops Nu Naturals brand liquid vanilla stevia OR 1 Tbsp grade B maple syrup (or raw honey)
½ cup dried coconut (unsulphured shavings)
In a small saucepan over low heat add 1 cup water and 2 cups any leftover grain (brown rice or millet are great!). Stir and add 1 Tbsp coconut oil, butter or ghee. Stir until melted and add ½ tsp whole sea salt, ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice OR ½ tsp each cinnamon & nutmeg, 2 Tbsp carob powder, 6 drops vanilla stevia OR 1 Tbsp maple syrup / raw honey, AND ½ cup dried coconut. Stir until mixed well & enjoy warm topped with pecans, almonds, walnuts, or macadamia nuts and/or fresh/frozen berries!
Optional tangy-sweet topping: just mash a basket of fresh raspberries (or a bag of thawed from frozen raspberries), with the juice of a ripe meyer lemon, and 10 drops Nu Naturals brand liquid vanilla stevia.