The Candy Onslaught has arrived. . . hundreds of thousands of pounds of candy have
been purchased and a huge amount of it has been handed to your child! It may be too late to change your
plans midstream, but
see some of the suggestions posted in the group discussion on
Nutrition: Ctrl+Alt+Delete! Some Moms
have created a game they do with the kids to keep the candy consumption to a
minimum! In addition I'd like to point out some of the
effects of sugar, and list the safe and unsafe alternatives so you can make
Why is sugar harmful? It is a form of simple
carbohydrates because it has been stripped of its nutrients. A sugar
plant has nutrients. Sugar cane and molasses are more directly utilized,
not extracted from the sugar plant, and therefore carry more of the nutrients
that are supposed to help us metabolize the sugar. Sugar and other simple
carbohydrates drive insulin levels to abnormal heights and this creates a host
of problems, either Type 2 Diabetes or a condition often referred to as
Sugar also depresses the immune system response. It slows the ability of white blood cells to move to the site of an infection and do their jobs. Think about a group of kids just after breakfast; they're very susceptible to passing around viruses and bacteria due to the sugar they've just consumed in their cereal.
According to Dr. William Sears, "Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of about two cans of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by forty percent. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours." (from Feeding Your Immune System )
Our body has a way that it deals with having
excess sugar. It begins to create more insulin. What is the purpose of Insulin Insulin controls many
internal body functions. It is a hormone secreted by the pancreas.
Its main function is to store energy from food into our cells. Only a
small amount of what we consume is able to be stored as glycogen, the rest of
the carbohydrates are converted into triglycerides. Yes,
triglycerides! Maybe you thought as I did that triglycerides are only
formed when fat is consumed. (from Dr. Ron Rosedale ) There are so many reasons we don't want our
insulin levels fluctuating. The biggest is that our cells become
resistant because too much insulin is being pumped. They turn off their
insulin receptors and then are not ready to receive energy from food. The
cells are trying to protect themselves from the excess, so they send a signal
that they've had enough. It is like a key that doesn't fit being jammed into a
lock, or like clapping your hands over your ears when music is too loud.
What are some alternatives to consuming
refined sugar? Our food industry has tried to create chemical imitations for
sugar, to help us avoid calories. Water is the only drink that truly has
zero calories. A chemical concoction like diet soda is actually going to
dehydrate the body because it takes water away to dissolve and try to break
down those chemicals.
All of the chemical sweetners
have side effects.
Aspartame, or Nutra
Sweet (brand name), is a particular cause for concern. It is found in so
many drinks, yogurts, gums, usually in food items traditionally sweetened with
sugar, which people have decided they want to avoid, either to
avoid calorie intake or tooth decay. When the FDA approved
aspartame it was never intended to become so widely used, and the threshold for
consumption by which they figured it would be “safe” for humans is usually
surpassed by anyone taking more than one serving per day. It was tested
only in its powder form and then it was stated that it does not produce cancer
in the animals, only brain lesions. In its liquid form it turns into
poisonous wood alcohol (methanol). Methanol is stored in the liver and
accumulates. Sadly, this substance is in such high demand that it is not
being taken off the market. Discovered by accident, this sweet tasting
chemical has become entrenched in our food supply. I’ve noticed
especially with chewing gum that they do not usually list “Nutra
Sweet” on the front but if you check the ingredients you will find aspartame in
almost all gum. You can find gum at the health food store that does not
contain aspartame. Aspartame use has also been linked to the rise in the
rate of childhood seizures. (adapted from Chemical
Crazy and Insulin Resistant by Sherrie Attila)
Speaking of the health food store, you can also
find more alternatives to sugar that are not chemicals. Sucanat (a contraction of "Sugar Cane Natural") is
sugar. Unlike refined and
white sugar, Sucanat retains its molasses
content; it is essentially pure dried sugar cane juice. The juice is extracted
by mechanical processes, heated and cooled at which point the small brown
grainy crystals are formed. (excerpt of
definition from WikiPedia) Xylitol is a sweetener that is extracted from fruit, usually
strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries. It is very safe and also very
good for preventing tooth decay. Many chewing gums and natural
toothpastes are made with xylitol.
Both sucanat and xylitol are able to be measured and used in a way similar
to white sugar in cooking and baking.
Agave Nectar is plant based, from a type of cactus plant
that is similar to an aloe vera plant. It looks
like honey but does not effect blood sugar levels. Stevia is another plant based sweetener. It is a
sweet herb, not a sugary substance. It can be in liquid or powder form
and is measured in drops. Ten drops will sweeten a cup of coffee.
Many find this to be a very satisfying alternative that has no effect on blood
sugar. Honey is a great choice because the sugars are
surrounded by nutrients our bodies can use to metabolize the sugar. Honey
is also found in the Bible many times, like in Proverbs 24:13, "My [daughter], eat honey because it is good, And the honeycomb
which is sweet to your taste."
Maple Syrup is for more than just
pancakes! I buy plain yogurt and sweeten with either hone
y or maple
syrup. We add our own fruit and granola. This also saves
Molasses is what you would have if the sugar
cane was not refined or whitened. It contains a good
compliment of B
vitamins. The strong flavor makes it inappropriate for some recipes and
tastes, but it never hurt anyone. Molasses and honey are also available
in granule form (like Sucanat).
Another surprise candidate for an alternative
sweetener is dates. Ground dates can be used in place of sugar.
Also don't forget unsweetened applesauce which can add moisture and sweetness
to baking recipes.
All of the above ideas came from the ladies in
either my homeschool group or my food coop
group. One of the responses was an inspiriation
to me. Though I have tried several of the above ideas, I have not yet
fully implemented them in my home, so writing this article has inspired me to
make some additional changes. Here are some thoughts from Catherine
A number of years ago we jettisoned white
sugar and brown sugar from our pantry forever. Yes forever.
However, to make the transition for our
5 children doable we kept honey, maple syrup, stevia
and agave. We told the children that when they passed up the white sugar stuff , at church or party etc, we would create a nutritious
snack at home for them. So...if dessert was served at a
church pot luck we'd either bring a dessert our family could eat OR have
it waiting at home to enjoy together later. All, I mean all,
our favorite recipes have been revamped to be made with raw honey. In fact, our
16 year old son wants chocolate cake and frosting with homemade ice cream for
his birthday this coming weekend. Done. My 20 year old
daughter and I will make chocolate zucchini cake with chocolate frosting and
homemade honey ice cream. All sweetened with only honey. We grind our own
grain...mostly spelt and kamut, and bake fresh and
freeze when we have left overs.
With honey you may need to increase
your flour or decrease your liquid a bit. You want to make sure you are using a
bit of both baking soda and baking powder.
I've been using honey and maple syrup for a long time, but I would like to take my commitment to another level by following Catherine's example. At this point, the main idea I want to convey is that sugar
may be entrenched in our diets, but with a little creativity, nutritious
additions and alternatives can be found. Some families may wish to delete
sugar completely. Artificial, chemical sweeteners definitely need to be
deleted. Any change you can make to control sugar intake will be an
improvement, and step by step, we can all build healthier habits for our
give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to
those who find them, And health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it
spring the issues of life.