Living and Thriving Gluten Free

Healthy & Whole Food Eating

Categories: Diet Changes    


But if you're actually reading this, then I expect you'll want some answer above that.

Hard candy in a glass jar
Image by: Daria Yakovleva

Before we go about answering that question with some answer above zero, let's put sugar in perspective.

What is Sugar?

Sugar is not food. Sugar is a processed food product. It has every other substance stripped from it, leaving only the sugar. Every other nutrient is now gone. It looks nothing like the original plants it came from, which is most commonly sugar cane and sugar beets. It tastes nothing like the original plant. It's been cooked, bleached and chemicalized to get it to be a pure white crystaline powder.

And no, sugar in the raw, or raw sugar or whatever other trendy names are on so called natural sugar sold in the USA and Canada, are still highly processed.

I've traveled extensively through Latin America, and what they sell as the least processed sugar does not resemble anything I ever see in Canada or the USA in the stores. That kind of Latin American sugar comes in blocks, is hard but moist, is very dark brown, and has a lot of flavor. To use it, you grate it. If you grated it into a pile, within minutes it's starting to bond back together. To maintain separate crystals, it needs additional processing, to extract the moistness from it.

But Don't We Run on Sugar?

Some people will argue that we can use it for energy, that's what we run on. Well, we're not a car running on gasoline. We're human, and until a couple hundred years ago, we ate extremely small amounts of processed sugar. Sugar was invented only 2 to 4 thousand years ago, and before that there is no record of processed sugar. So, for the majority of our existence on this planet, processed sugar was not part of our diet.

Also, sugar has no other nutrition in it. That means we need to get more nutrition from the other foods we eat. But I doubt anyone is bothering to actually check if they're getting everything they need. Most of the people saying that just want a good excuse to keep their addiction.

I'm also not talking about fruit or things that are naturally sweet. I'm talking about processed sugar.

Sugar Behaves Like a Drug:

Processed sugar when consumed acts like a drug to our body. If you've ever tried to cut it out, you know you get major cravings, and suffer from withdrawals. If it behaves like a drug... well, you know the saying, "if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck."

If you're not overweight, have perfect blood sugar readings, never have extended periods of sugar spikes, then sugar is likely not much of a problem. And, in reality, you probably don't eat much of it.

But if you're overweight, have diabetes or pre diabetes, are sick with any autoimmune or chronic disease, then using sugar will be a problem.

That's why the answer to the original question - How many sugary treats should you eat? - is zero.

When you're ready to actually acknowledge that, admit it's true, even if you don't like it, then you're ready to put sugar into a healthy perspective, in your actual life.

How Much Sugar to Cut Out:

Cutting it out isn't always easy, and you'll need to do some work to cut it out.

How difficult that will be will depend on where you are, health wise.

If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, you're going to need to cut it all out immediately. And there isn't any cheating. You may have doctors who'll tell you it's fine to eat it, and then just use more insulin, but as far as I'm concerned that's absolutely horrible advice.

You wouldn't tell an alcoholic to drink what they want, but just make sure they have a ride home and drink lots of water. Or do liver detoxes, etc. It doesn't work.

You can't poison yourself and think you just need to take some antidote and everything will be ok. It won't.

If you're just a bit overweight, and not majorly addicted to sugar, but still want to cut it out, or cut it down a lot, then you'll have an easier time, and probably won't need to make as many changes.

I'd also recommend not switching from sugar to some of the sugar alternatives. Many are highly chemical concoctions. Many others still have sugar like effects on the body. More and more info is coming out that they're not safe, and cause harm to the body. If you want sugar gone, you're just going to have to bite the bullet and do the work to cut it out.

Make Sugar an Occasional Treat Only:

Try and wrap your head around the idea of treating sugar like an occasional treat. And when I say occasional, I mean no more than one time per month. Not once a day, not once a week.

When you can get to the point where you only have it once a month, or even less, you'll actually get over the addiction, and you'll lose your taste for really sweet things. Then even if you do have some once a month you simply won't like things as sweet as you used to like it.

The longer time you can put between eating it, the less of a draw it will be.

For me, I massively cut down on sugar in about the year 2,000. Prior to that, I probably ate the average amount everyone else did, which I've heard is about 100 pounds a year. Maybe it was a bit less, since I never was much of a soda pop drinker, and I drink my coffee without sugar. But I still ate a lot in food.

At this point, 20 years later, I've lost 99% of my desire for sugar. I buy about a pound a year, along with about a quart of raw honey and that's it. I use 1/4 of that at Christmas time, when I bake some favorite sweets. I don't buy sugary premade things, they're just too sickly sweet at this point.

That didn't happen overnight, but I made a big effort in 2,000 to cut down a lot. Within a few months I was eating it only once a month, and as I lost my taste for it over the years, the amount has gone down more and more.

Getting Structured Help to Cut Sugar:

If you want some help cutting out sugar in a structured way, then I'd highly recommend you check out the You Tube channel called The Sugar Channel. Pim Jannson, the host, even has a free 30 day Sugar Free Challenge playlist that will walk you through the whole process.

Your body will thank you tremendously for the effort you put in to cut down or cut out sugar!

If you're looking to gain some different perspectives on eating healthier, be sure to check out our Kick It Up section, where you'll find all kinds of articles that do that.

Learn, eat (sugar free) and enjoy!


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