Hi everyone, apologies for being away! I’ve been developing a programme of talks and workshops, coaching services and classes, which I’m very excited about, and will share more soon!
In the meantime…
I wrote on this blog a few months ago, asking the question, should we give up sugar?
I argued that when we ban anything, we want it more – but on the flipside, sugar creates such urges within us, that the only way to be free of its hooks – is to quit it! What a conundrum.
When I was in my twenties, I gave up sugar. No more chocolate, or cakes, or pastries. Why? Because I knew, instinctively, that it was not good for me, and making me feel absolutely rubbish. And there wasn’t THAT much stuff being reported about it back then, so it was all just common sense.
Since then, sugar has moved in and out of my diet, in varying amounts, and in various forms.
But with all the new science showing how sugar can really play havoc with our health, I’ve cut right down. I no longer eat so many raisins, I have developed a taste for super dark chocolate, I don’t eat so much bread and pasta and pizza anymore, even my fruit consumption is less than it’s ever been. And I’ve done this with a much better understanding of myself, and of sugar. I don’t want to ban it completely, despite what I know about it. Because I know myself better, and it turns out that challenging myself to tolerate some form of moderation is difficult, but ultimately more rewarding for my sense of balance and wellbeing.
This is what I say in my talk, in a super condensed version:
- Excess glucose from refined sources causes crazy insulin release patterns, which can damage our arteries, pancreas and heart. And not least cause us to hold onto and store a lot of fat.
- Excess fructose from refined sources can cause damage to our liver through fatty liver symptoms. Excess fructose can also cause us to gain visceral fat, and raises our triglyceride levels.
- Excess sugar – glucose or fructose – can give us all those niggling health symptoms we feel, such as lethargy, headaches, digestive upsets, lack of focus, aging skin, dandruff etc. As well as many worse conditions such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cognitive decline.
- The way to health is to work on a spectrum. Move away from refined, and go for whole. This goes for everything; fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Heck, even in life.
I’m going to expand on that last point.
Move away from refined, and aim for whole.
The most whole foods have only one ingredient! A carrot, is a carrot. A cabbage is a cabbage. That’s it, that’s the furthest end of the spectrum.
One ingredient, one whole thing. A nut, a seed, a berry.
As soon as they are changed from that state, they move up the spectrum towards refinement. A berry may become a dehydrate
d berry, and then berry juice, or a jam, or a jelly in a snack bar, or a flavouring in a chemical solution found in a breakfast cereal. Learning how to navigate your way down the spectrum, is what moving towards good health looks like.
And it goes with foods that seem so healthy too. Like extra virgin olive oil, or nut butter. You’d consume so much less of them if they were in their whole state. As soon as fibre is taken away and you’re left with a piece of the whole, in this case an oil, then you’d eat a bunch more. If it is pre-chopped up, as in a nut butter, you’d eat so much more of it. It’s just worth pointing out what a really whole food is, so it’s up to you to define how to eat it in a more processed form.
It’s the same with all parts of our life. Take entertainment for example, on the refined end you could get a TV series delivered on your mobile device, and on the other end, you could be talking face to face with a friend. This is obviously the holistic view of the spectrum and of health, but what is good health, if not holistic? How can you just eat raw veggies and seeds, but spray your body with anti-perspirants and buy plastic coated anything? Health is a whole package.
But back to the food spectrum. I showed my audience four types of bread. White bread, with its lack of fibre (which I consider essential) and nutrients on the refined end, and then a whole grain on the whole end. In between you have brown bread, or sourdough rye bread, or pumpernickel bread.
Why include bread at all you might say? Well, once you go passed the pumpernickel bread and see that next on the line is flour and then a wheat kernel, and a wheat kernel is not enticing at all, then perhaps it’s natural to not eat that much bread, if at all, seeing as it is an inherently processed food that doesn’t exist in whole form. But that’s for you to decide.
Hence why the spectrum isn’t a set of hard or fast rules, but a sliding scale that you decide where to put your own marker. It can change, as you do, going up or down depending on what you feel is right for you personally.
However, knowing that going one way benefits your body and can lead to feeling well, and sliding the other way won’t give your body what it needs and will make you feel and be unwell, is a good motivator and great principle to work with.
So living low sugar isn’t just about cutting out sugar, it’s about working towards whole health. And that’s why I like the idea of lowering sugar, because as soon as you do that, a lot of other junk goes out the window too.
I feel that refined carbohydrates in the form of any floury product, need to be looked at carefully in the low sugar conversation, because excess glucose is a problem too! You’d hardly get much glucose from whole food sources, and the ones that have the most glucose in them like grains or potatoes must be transformed through cooking or processing for you to be able to eat them. When we consume glucose away from its whole form, we get too much of it.
So, should you give up sugar?
No. But you should give up being hooked on excess sugar, and the only way to do that is to move into whole food health. From there, with less sugar in your system, you can choose to eat it on your own terms.
I will give more detailed HOW TO’s on Low Sugar Living in future posts. It’s good to be back!