Several hospital stays and multiple doctors’ appointments have left me with so much information overload it’s almost impossible to know what to do to be healthy. One doctor says one thing; another doctor says something entirely different. Some things you try yield no results, while others make things so much better. How do you know what to choose? One thing that has been fairly consistent through all all the doctors’ visits though has been their take on sugar.
Sugar is Poison
The best way to know what health changes are best for you is to try the things doctors and nutritionists suggest and decide which ones make you feel better and/or look better. One of the few things all the doctors seemed to agree upon, though, was that sugar in our diets is simply bad for us. Dr. Mercola, Dr. Oz, and many of the TV guru doctors all agree as well (as evidenced by things they’ve written on their websites).
For me, it didn’t take much research to realize that high-fructose corn syrup is overtaking all our foods, and while the ads on television will tell you that your body can’t tell the difference between HFCS and sugar, I’m here to tell you that both are just as bad for your body. Literally, sugar-whether its raw sugar, sugar cane, HFCS, corn sugar, beet sugar, honey, fructose, glucose, etc.-acts like a poison in the body. It’s detrimental to health in so many ways.
Making the Decision: Cut out Sugar
So I made the decision to cut sugar out of my diet completely, in every form except whole, natural fruits. I have researched the negative effects of sugar on the body, and it’s a decision I feel really good about making. The problem then comes in finding foods without sugar in them. It’s crazy, but I found a store brand version of green beans as well as Green Giant brand name green beans both with high fructose corn syrup in them! Why on earth do green beans need sugar?
The reason is most likely attributed to manufacturers knowing a couple of things: 1) consumers buy the products that taste best (and we’re geared to favor sweets) and 2) HFCS is addictive, so people get ‘hooked’ on the product and buy more.
Don’t be Fooled: Sugar is in Everything
For me, I’ve decided the only way to completely avoid sugar is to eat as naturally as possible. I will allow for natural sugars-such as the fructose that is in a whole orange or a juicy real, whole apple-but I don’t even do juices that have sugar added or have removed the pulp of the fruit out of it, since losing the pulp mitigates the only really good part of the fruit, the fiber.
My daughter, who was trying to eat healthier, mistakenly thought buying canned fruit cocktail was better for her than eating cookies or a piece of cake. But little did she know that there was more sugar-in the form of both fructose and high fructose corn syrup (and sometimes sugar too)-in a can of heavy syrup fruit cocktail than there is in a piece of cake!
Avoid Sugar by Eating Whole, Natural Foods
The best way to avoid sugar in your diet is to avoid eating processed foods. Whole vegetables, whole fruit, nothing packaged, nothing canned, nothing bottled. If you want juice, buy some oranges or apples and a juicer and juice them yourself, and then add that lovely pulp with the fiber and vitamins back into the juice.
When buying meats, be sure you’re getting fresh cuts, from the meat market or a butcher, and not processed, pre-packaged meats. Some ground beef and other processed meats use sugar as part of the preparation and packaging or curing of the meat. Common meats with sugar in them are lunch deli meats, cured meats, hams, bacon and any canned meats.
Learn to Read Labels to Avoid Sugar
Learn how to read labels, look for excess carbohydrates over what are expected for the foods. Read the ingredients list too. Sugar can sometimes hide in there, in the name of other things you think are natural, like honey, agave nectar, fructose, glucose, HFCS or high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and more. Reading the ingredients instead of relying on just the sugars listed in the nutritional panel will reveal hidden sugars.
Artificial Sweeteners Aren’t Safe
In the beginning, you might find that using artificial (or natural but non-sugar) sweeteners, like Splenda, Nutra-Sweet, Equal, agave nectar, honey and the like still trigger similar responses in your body to what sugar causes and can still spike insulin responses, and the do nothing to help you get over the need for the sweet flavor of sugar in your foods.
Stevia is a natural sweetener, and you can find it raw in some stores. Just Like Sugar is another product I’ve written about before that can help with your sweet tooth, and it’s all natural and sold at Whole Foods. If you absolutely must have these sweet tooth items, then consider using these two products in favor of the other, less healthy sweeteners, but try to slowly work the sweet stuff out of your diet completely.
If you’ll cut back on the salt in your diet, go with all natural, non-processed foods, you’ll actually find that your food naturally tastes sweeter. Sodium is in everything as well, pre-packaged and processed, and often the sugar or sweeteners are added to help counteract that sodium flavor. Cut back on both at the same time, and really learn how to tastes the natural, wonderful flavors of your foods.
For me, I’ve seen more energy, food tastes better, I feel better, and my health conditions (congestive heart failure and pulmonary arterial hypertension) are both improved by this simple decision to cut both salt and sugar out of my diet completely.
Eat well for good health!
Dr. Oz’s Website, Recovering from Sugar Addiction Easily, http://www.doctoroz.com/blog/jacob-teitelbaum-md/recovering-sugar-addiction-easily-overview, retrieved 7/9/2012
Dr. Mercola’s Website, 76 Dangers of Sugar, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/20/sugar-dangers.aspx, retrieved 7/9/2012
Just Like Sugar: http://www.justlikesugarinc.com/