Free from sugar: Why I live without the sweet poison
This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)
WHY IS REFINED SUGAR SO BAD FOR US?
AND WHAT HAPPENS IF WE QUIT IT?
HOW DO I KNOW WHERE SUGAR IS?
WHAT AM I SWEETENING WITH?
THERE ARE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS TODAY.
It is everywhere: in beverages, sauces, bread and especially in all processed foods. We are talking about refined sugar. And it’s not only in the products where we’d expect it the most. No, sugar can also be found in pasta, vegetable stock, cornflakes and balsamic vinegar. If you want to live without sugar, you cannot avoid checking each package twice and reading the fine print.
Eliminating sugar from life is not easy. After all, nobody ever said that. But it’s doable. I can tell you that from my own experience. Because I’ve been living sugar-free for over two years.
“No cake, no cookies, no desserts?” That’s how the reactions turn out when I announce that I don’t eat refined sugar. Vegan, gluten intolerant and sugar-free. Of course, I am already aware of the fact that the broad masses of people think that I’m crazy. But what most people don’t know: I can eat cakes, cookies and desserts just like them. Of course: Not the store-bought ones. However, in 99% of cases they are neither vegan nor gluten-free. “How is that supposed to work?”is the next question I am asked all the time.
Well, in the future I’ll just link this blog post but of course I do not only write it because of that – this would be nonsense; -) Of course, my intention is also to inspire as many of you as possible to skip sugar more often or even quit it altogether too. Why, why and how: This is coming now!
The main reasons why I quit sugar:
1. Increased risk of diabetes
As mentioned above, sugar is everywhere. Particularly shocking: it is even present in 80% of packaged foodstuffs. Sugar is not only addictive, it also has a negative effect on our health. Every time we eat sugar, our pancreas releases insulin. This is done to stimulate the organs to absorb glucose from the blood. So if we now regularly pacify this stimulus, it, together with the high levels of insulin and glucose, ensures that the pancreas produces less and less insulin over time. This leads to insulin resistance. And this is also a harbinger of diabetes.
2. Destroyed intestinal flora
What many people also don’t know: Sugar also ruins our intestinal flora. We like to grow mushrooms in the stomach through our sugar consumption. So if we eat regularly, we can destroy a completely intact intestinal flora within a few weeks. If you drink and smoke alcohol in addition, this effect is even more pronounced.
3. Sugar affects our brain
There are studies that show that sugar shrinks our brains. Scientists from London University College have shown a link between sugar consumption and the development of mental illness such as depression and anxiety disorders. Incidentally, there was a particular connection with men: five years after the first survey, those who consumed more than 67 grams of sugar daily through sweets and snacks had a 23 percent higher risk of mental disorder than those who ate less than 40 grams of sweets daily.
4. Steady weight gain
In addition, the energy we absorb from sugar is often converted into fat and stored because we absorb too much of it. It is therefore not surprising that sugar leads to an increase in weight in the longer term.
Why is there still so much sugar used?
This answer is simple: sugar is a very low-cost ingredient. Besides, it is – besides fat – a flavour carrier. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that we should not cover more than ten percent of our energy needs with sugar. In fact, however, 20% of what we eat every day is sugar. If it’s up to me, I think even 10% is still questionable. This makes it all the worse that many of the extremely sugar-containing products are recommended in advertising, especially for children. Just think of fruit yoghurt or the children’s chocolate bar. The ads promote that those products contain lots fruits. And there’s supposed to be a lot of good calcium in the bars. That’s bullshit.
So anyone who wants to know today how much sugar is in it, must read the fine print first. Unfortunately, there is no other possibility (at the moment). Look at how many grams of sugar are contained in 100 grams. And apart from that, the following rule of thumb applies: The further up the list of ingredients, the more of it is hidden in the product. And one more thing: Whoever wants to do without sugar is best served by putting himself/herself at the stove. This is the only way to really know what’s in our food.
What many people don’t know: All ingredients that end in glucose, lactose or maltose or simply in “-ose” also indicate sugar types. These are technical terms such as dextrose, lactose and malt sugar. All kinds of “syrups” – such as glucose or fructose syrup – also indicate sugar.
What happens if we stop eating sugar?
Eliminating sugar from the menu has a lot of great effects on us. From my own experience I can list some of the most significant points here.
It is also important to point out that for health reasons it is not enough simply to replace the household sugar with all sugar alternatives. In a sugar-free diet, agave syrup, rice syrup, etc. should also be avoided or at least seldom consumed, as they contain just as many “empty calories” as household sugar.
I used to crave for sweets all the time. Especially chocolate. In fact, researchers have found that we can become equally dependent on certain foods. Just as drugs make us addicted (see National Institute on Drug Abuse). Drug use stimulates the same brain regions as when we see, smell and taste unhealthy food. And of course, this includes above all things that contain sugar.
So if we stop eating refined sugar, it’s like withdrawal. In the beginning it is not easy and certainly there are days when you have a relapse. It has helped me to soften up alternatives. Whenever I fancied something sweet, I pick up an apple or a few dates. So I was able to defeat the appetite bit by bit.
Excessive sugar consumption makes us totally sluggish and sleepy. This is due to the insulin level, which skyrockets upwards and releases insulin and tryptophan in the body. We feel totally hyperactive at first, you may think. That’s the truth. The reason for this is that the sugar drives the energy to peak values, but the blood sugar drops rapidly below the necessary level. If we eat wholesome and unprocessed food, our body is supplied with antioxidants, vitamins and proteins. This gives us more energy for the whole day.
Creativity in the kitchen:
Whoever cooks fresh knows exactly what’s inside every meal. So if we cut out processed foods and instead cook with fresh ingredients, we automatically become more creative in the kitchen (and healthier).
That’s why I’ve made a “sugar-free shopping list” for you so that you can inspire yourselves a little bit:
- brown rice
- chick peas
- plantbased oil
- coconut milk
- plantbased yogurt
- fresh herbs
- quinoapops oder soy crispies (unsweetened)
- coffee & tea
On the other hand, you should avoid the following foods if possible:
- processed food
- agave syrp
- rice syrup
- molasses syrup
- fruit yogurt
- fruit juice
- store bought muesli
And what about cakes and cookies?
I don’t want to let you go without recipes and snacks. On my blog there are several sweet treats that can do without refined sugar. They also contain neither gluten nor animal ingredients.
I prefer to use dates and figs as natural sweeteners. Fruits are a great source of vitamins and fibers, so you can’t compare this sugar with refined one. Every now and then Stevia is also used. You’ll also find coconut blossom sugar and xylitol in my cupboard. But that will be the topic in my next blog post about sugar alternatives…
I hope you’ve learned something new today and I’m already looking forward to see you again for part 2 when I’ll be talking about sugar replacements.
Lots of love,