Sugar. How sweet it is!…Is it really?

We’ve become junkies. We reach for it in happy times, in depressing times, at all times. Not only in the form of those shimmering white crystals, but also in the chemically engineered equivalents in sweets, drinks and desserts designed to bring that comfortable warm, relaxing glow at the end of a meal, dunking in our coffee, enhancing our soft drinks, a midday or after school energy boost, snacks that replace real food, and that stress releasing melt of alcohol/sugar at the end of the work day. Reaching for it is so matter-of-fact that most of us never give a thought to the fact that we’ve become sugar addicts, addicted to the ‘pure’ form and all additives containing all the scientifically engineered chemical forms that we and our children cannot live without. But the most insidious effect on us, besides the well known publicized physical calamities of obesity, ADD, diabetes…, is on our psyche, our mental state, our inability to cope with life’s twists and turns whether self made or not. Our dependence on it makes us victims of the worst side effects, the diseases of unhappiness and depression. It’s a vicious cycle: physical disease = depression/depression = physical disease. That cycle has to be broken.

Refined sugar is responsible for creating an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Mental and emotional disorders are now linked to sugar consumption. Hence, “Sugar Blues”. How do you usually ‘stop’ it? Reach for more sugar. And so we have the 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM coffee/tea breaks with caffeine, a perfect partner for sugar also in the soft drinks that your kids have with their sugar fix – uppers and downers harmoniously together ‘to get you going’. In one form or another it is in just about every processed food and drink that is manufactured. Put this in perspective. We are hooked and have become numb, used to having our ‘down’ times, taking mood elevators to numb us even more so we can ‘cope’. That’s not coping; it’s drugging which brings even more depression.

Refined sugar is a refined carbohydrate which is extremely hazardous to your health. It enters the bloodstream very rapidly creating an ideal environment for developing addictions. It’s a fast energy booster and mood elevator, an addictive drug often compared to other heavily addictive substances like heroine and opium. It should also be included in the DEA’s ‘most wanted’ list. Natural sweeteners and sugars, on the other hand, are more complex and enter the bloodstream slowly. They’re not chemically refined and are closer to whole foods, containing their own nutrients that feed the body; they don’t rob or deplete it.

Simple to say: “Stop eating sugar.” So tough to do. I know. When I was about ten, I used to go with my mother to a naturopath who’d know that I’d eaten sugar the night before by feeling the glands in my neck. His answer? a maple sugar bar to gnaw on to satisfy my sugar craving. It worked. Refined sugar withdrawal can be physically and mentally traumatic, but it can be done. There are natural substitutions available to make it easier and which become delightful on your tongue, welcome in your body, and a natural panacea for your psyche while keeping you sharp. Reduce your stress by reducing your white sugar intake. Your actual brain/body chemistry will change and become positive enabling you to cope with not only today’s horrendous economic and world events but also helping to guide you through your own daily ups and downs. Not that you’ll be able to change or control anything outside of your immediate life. But you can control the amount of whole body damage by being able to control the way you approach it all, setting an example for your children by helping them stop their drug dependency now. True, natural sweeteners are less sweet but allow the taste of the food to come through and reduce the likelihood of a sweet addiction. And what about the taste? Your perception of sweet will change as you start to taste food for the very first time and you’ll see the deliciousness you’ve been missing!

Be your own test case for ten days to two weeks before introducing the idea to your family. You will see a dramatic difference. Lay the ground work for the ‘sugar blues’ withdrawal by warning them that you’ll most likely be grumpy, sleepy, impatient, headachy, downright nasty but letting them know it’s not really you and why. The real you will be there next week. You can’t afford not to go unrefined. Your new and positive approach to life will start your own chain reaction through family, friends, and business.

We can’t afford not go natural even though the term ‘natural’ is increasingly coming under more fire and scrutiny. That’s a good thing. But you still have to read. So, meanwhile, start with the simplest that you already know and trust to be natural and pure. Going natural/Green can start as simply as changing your sugar. Try honey, maple syrup/granules/sugar, brown rice syrup, blackstrap molasses, date sugar, mixed fruit juice concentrate, stevia, evaporated whole cane juice and more: for explanations and you can search by individual names. With plenty to choose from experiment and get to know the ones you like or mix ‘n match different combinations to your taste, a real plus for the diversity of natural sugars.

According to David Gutierrez’s article regarding ‘natural’: ‘FDA Says That High
Fructose Corn Syrup Cannot Be Considered Natural’. Daaah! Really!

“At this point, the FDA’s only requirement for the natural label is that products so labeled may not contain any artificial flavors, colors or other additives. In addition, no specific ingredient may be labeled with the term, with the exception of “natural flavors.”

….according to a 2004 survey by the Natural Marketing Institute, 63 percent of people in the United States prefer to consume natural food and beverage products. And that was 5 years ago!

The Mintel Global New Products Database reports that in 2007, “All Natural” was the third most common claim made on the labels of new food products in the United States and the fourth most common for beverages…” Even if this is motivated by greed, I’ll take it…for now. Corporate trust for me has to be earned, so I still read labels.

Natural sweet makes life a whole lot sweeter.

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ABOUT: Wellness Chef Helen Sandler
Lecturer, personal chef, teacher, wellness coach, & speaker, Helen promotes a healthier lifestyle through common sense, organic / natural approach to a happier, positive life.

Helen Sandler is used to being an innovator and at the cutting edge of whole foods whole grains awareness. After graduating from SUNY, New York with a teaching degree, she began to follow her real passion for healthy cooking which took her from Los Angeles to Boston to attend the cooking school of the late and great master Japanese natural chef, Aveline Kushi. Later that passion took her to Kyoto, Japan to continue her studies, where she spent four more years learning the art of healthy Japanese cooking (Seishoku).

As Wellnes Chef Helen she is the featured authority at CTNgreen /wellness with articles in the library there and the virtual paperless magazine at CTNGreen Magazine