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How to Break Up with Refined Sugar

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Linked to weight problems, joint problems, heart problems, bone problems, brain problems, and immunity problems — too much sugar is not just about cavities anymore. The real problem, however, is that sugar has managed to penetrate its way into nearly everything we eat, from pasta sauce to baby food to … let’s save some time … whatever we buy processed is likely to be sweetened with refined sugars and a lot of it.

The World Health Organization recently proposed a revision to its guidelines, now suggesting five percent (or preferably less) of our calorie intake come from sugar. In plainer words, about 25 grams a day is the cut off, meaning one can of soda — generally about 40 grams — puts us well over the limit. The word is out, and it’s time to cut back.

First, though, let’s remember: sugar is not the devil. Let us not fall into the pit of misdirection in which all things sweet or all things containing sugar belong in the same lowly, disreputable category. The problem is not sugar, for sugar is in things we legitimately need to be eating: whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruit. The problems are those manufactured poisons big ag has been feeding us: refined, white sugar and high fructose corn syrup, to mention but two omnipresent toxins.

When “quitting sugar,” it’s important not to condemn the sweet stuff. We should be open to small, regular portions of things like genuine maple syrup, dates, and agave when the tooth is tickling. We should not turn our backs on fruit. The difference will be that, by avoiding those daily overdoses of agri-candy in cans and cardboard, real food will be sufficiently sweet and nutritious without being too abundant.

Make no mistake: the way we now receive processed sugar is addictive, and not in a cutesy “she loves her sweets” way, but in a national health issue way. Initially, it’s important to try to preempt those inevitable cravings, especially in the waning weeks, and to plan alternative solutions. Fortunately, as Maia James says in her Huffington Post article, “How to Quit Sugar” does not necessarily mean grabbing “an apple when you want chocolate.”

In fact, there are several methods for curbing cravings before they happen, including sleeping enough, adequately hydrating, and filling up on appropriately carbohydrate-d stuff, all those pulses and whole grains people keep talking about. And, there are things to tamper the fire when sugar is all that matters: Yes, whole fruit (not juice) is an option, but so is a quality dark chocolate truffle or a healthy, sugar-free treat—visit One Green Planet’s closet of recipes.

Quitting sugar is much less about a spoonful in coffee and much more about realizing its prevalence throughout the modern diet. Processed foods are really the culprit because, rather than seeing that hulking heap of sugar going in (or the 10 hulking heaps), we eat a can of vegetables or health bar and ingest more sugar than we’d ever consciously add. The first thing to do when quitting sugar for good is to stop eating processed food — plain and simple.

Getting off processed foods — the bulk of the sugary stuff —  is the major step, and after that, it’s fairly easy. Choices with moderate, natural sweetness, such as sweet potatoes or carrots, will cut off cravings before they start. There are great sites of sugar-free cooking, with tips from those who’ve ditched sugar already and survived. By eating healthy, fresh food, made at home rather than in a factory, we control the amount of sugar we ingest.

Those of us already cooking for ourselves, using vegetables as opposed to cans and jars, we are but a step or two away. For those of us still relying on companies to make our spaghetti sauces and drinks, it’s time to get out the cookbooks (or websites) and take control because quitting sugar for good starts with knowing firsthand what we are eating and drinking.

 Image source: Romain Behar / Wikimedia Commons

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15 comments on “How to Break Up with Refined Sugar”

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Jan Roberts
4 Years Ago

sugar us bad for your pancreas..liver..teeth...etc etc...i even buy low sugar ketchup!!!


Reply
Laura Lynn
4 Years Ago

I'm proud to say we broke up long ago & I never looked back B)


Reply
Douglas D Eden
4 Years Ago

I just consider the trade offs always between the health of sugars and the benefit of more enjoyment of foods. . MOST of the suggestions in these posts dotn help me because I hate coconut and do not drink coffee at all to need sweeteneed. . BUT MY oatmeal needs to be in milk and either coated in sugar or in 3 times the exchange rate of spenda.


Reply
Jan Roberts
05 Apr 2014

Try almond milk.no cholesterol ...adults shouldn't drink mammal milk!!!

Douglas D Eden
05 Apr 2014

BEEN there, almond milk sucks as does soy milk, coconut, and any other forms of substitute I have seen . . LIFE withotu dairy and eggs and meat means a diet filled only with sacrifice and suffering not any pleasure or enjoyment,.

Douglas D Eden
4 Years Ago

sorry but I bake with pure cane sugar and Dark chocolate is nasty , as well as truffles .. BUT I do buy my pop in UN fructoce corn syrup varity and READ labels for mentioning of the corn syrup part.


Reply
Carol Mellen Highsmith
4 Years Ago

Also, don't be fooled by Agave. It breaks down to another chemical chain that isn't good for you, either. I hate to admit I use turbinado which isn't all refined down...or molasses. I don't use much sugar but do eat a few cookies from local grocery store bakery so I'm not totally sugar free...yet. DANA...never heard of coconut sugar crystals but must try. Please google more about Agave, tho...it's really not great...wish I could explain how it changes from one sugar chain to another that isn't so good.


Reply
Cassie Norskog
4 Years Ago

Jane Norskog


Reply
Dana Latempt
4 Years Ago

I use coconut "sugar" crystals and agave in coffee and cooking recipes and love the coconut sugar the best. Both low glycemic options! Once when out of sweetened, I crushed a few grapes on a strainer and used the juice in my coffee--liked that best!


Reply
Mireya Mata
4 Years Ago

Breaking up is hard to do BUT I am committed to doing so. I know I will have withdrawals (not looking forward to that). I'm going to video journal my journey so i can remind myself when I want to get back on the stuff.


Reply
Anita Weber
4 Years Ago

Both are harmful.


Reply
Sana MA
4 Years Ago

Huda Aljoukhadar


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