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Sugar: Is There a Better Way

23 Comments

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A recent documentary is once again making a stand amongst social media.  A documentary I have yet to see but I know it revolves around sugar and how much of our food is soaked in it.  It should be simple, right? Just cut out added sugar, avoid buying processed foods, build a small barn out back and grab myself more tower gardens.  Well, I think for most people, it is not a “simple” switch.  To avoid a long research project, I am just going to talk about some strategies I use to reduce sugar as well as what I choose when it does come down to a choice.  In the end, you can decide, truly, is there a better choice?

 

As I sit here in my daughter’s room, I think about it: Sugar.  It is truly everywhere in her world.  The fruit I served at breakfast, the bread she has in her lunch, the cake at the party, an incentive for a fund raising challenge at school, at the door of her dance studio and even the cookies I made earlier this week.  Thinking logically and knowing there are always going to be choices in her big world, I have to remember that through my personal choices here at home and other moments we are together, she will ultimately choose what she feels is right for her when she is not around me. Which, really, is the best I can do as a mom, right?

 

Let’s start with baking.  I absolutely love to bake and this has naturally come from my beautiful mother.  She had always baked for my brothers and I and I am grateful that she was the type of mom who would simply add goodness into her brownies or cookies.  The sugar she used, yes, was granulated, but she off-set that by using whole grain flours, oats and reducing the amount of sugar the recipe would call for.  Not to mention, when you are baking at home, there are so many additives that are avoided just because it does not require a “shelf-life.”

 

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Today, I choose to use honey as my sweetener.  I love honey because not only is it natural (grab the raw honey!) but I love playing a part in supporting our amazing bees.  Now, I do have to say, I use organic Florida Crystals as well.  I will use this when I am following a recipe I have never made so that I am able to see what it is like in an unaltered state.  After that first attempt, I will then go on to experiment with honey or maybe even agave.

 

Sweet spices are one of the best ways to avoid sugar yet still attain a sweet flavor.  You can experiment with ones such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and anise.  I recently found a great herb at the farmers market called Citrus Thyme.  There is such a great sweetness to it that I have added it to my flavored waters and even scrambled eggs.  So head to your farmers market this weekend because you never know what great cooking additions you will find.

 

berries.jpgHow about fruit? Well, if you truly must choose the one with less sugar, then try some of these: apples, blackberries, cantaloupes, cherries, kiwis, blueberries, apricots, honeydew melons and raspberries. Remember to always follow the servings rules because if you eat more than a serving, well, you are eating more natural sugars than you likely intended on.

 

Sugar in our schools is absolutely outrageous.  I am happy to say, I feel that this may one of the more successful years our school will have with eliminating sugar in the most rediculous situations, such as using it for a treat because of good behavior or as a reward for the most “box-tops” brought in.  We all know the better choice here is simple praise.  Let your children see and hear your joy over good behavior and fabulous grades (they are always listening!)  Make your stand at your school and begin to gather more parents so the district knows you’re serious about a change in the reduction (or complete elimination) of sweet rewards.

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On that note, I feel I must let you know that there are other countries who are ahead of us Americans on that crazy game.  Recently I listened to a podcast where they interviewed someone in the UK.  She went on to explain how they just do not have candy as a reward.  They reward their students with Golden Time.  This time is accumulated by good behavior and the students are able to choose their own special activities at the end of the week.

 

The question is, what is the better choice when it comes to sugar? If and when you can: avoid it.  When you are using it for baking, try using raw, local honey (if it is local it will help with allergies).  In everyday choices in food, we should always reach for foods that only contain one ingredient: itself.  It is not an easy task, but when you begin to see and feel the difference in yourself, it will be well worth it.

 

 

 

Check out this website that contains a list of high-sugar foods.  How much sugar are you eating everyday?

 

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23 Comments

Hi. I struggle with sugar but have decided to let it ride, but balance it out with healthy treat. My son is well aware of healthy and unhealthy choices. I’m surprised to hear about the candy in schools though!! Our kids would NEVER get given sugar in school in the UK. They don’t get edible rewards at all. They get merits. Do they actually give candy to kids at school in the US? We’re not even allowed to put it into their lunchboxes. Of course there is sugar – in say flavoured yogurt tubes, etc. – but not candy or chocolate. *shocked face*

I recently found coconut palm sugar at my supermarket. It says you can replace it for granulated sugar. It says it is made from the palm of the coconut coconut/tree. It is sweet but contains fiber, and naturally occurring vitamins. Thoughts??

I, too, am shocked to hear about candy rewards at school! I am in the U.S. and the only time sugar could be an issue at school is in birthday treats or at classroom holiday parties. Both of these occasions come with heavy encouragement to limit the sugar. As for lunchboxes, it’s the same in that we are not to put candy in.

Hi Cheryl,

Yes, unfortunately there is candy given out at schools here. We even have fund raisers with candy. Its a struggle, but I am happy to say that I am one of the moms who is pushing to get it out and it is working. I had heard The Food Teacher (from the UK) speak on a radio show that is broadcast over the internet. And she was so amazing! So, if there are any resources you have, favorite websites maybe, that would help me out on my quest, I sure would love them. Great job with your son, too! 😉

Sugar is a huge struggle. My in-laws are pretty much sugarholics and trying to get them to stop giving it to my children is a tough tough battle. So we set up rules so that it is least after they eat their meals.

One note about baking and honey. My local honey store told me that baking the honey eliminates its usefulness in the allergy department. I don’t remember the science, but that is what they said.

Hi Jennifer,

That is really awesome! I am surely going to use this in my case towards no candy. What about fund raisers? What do you have for that?

I was also unaware of candy as a reward in schools. My daughter goes to a charter school where candy and sugar in general is not an option. Parents are not allowed to bring in sugary treats for birthdays either. We also do not have candy fundraisers, instead her school focuses on other kinds of fundraising such as a Jog-a-thon. From what I have been hearing from parents at other schools this is starting to be a trend around where we live, let’s hope it continues!

Hi Jackie. Sorry – time difference! To be honest, I mostly use this site for recipes. I’ve tried the homemade granola, energy bars, fruit roll ups, etc, with varying degrees of success. My son didn’t really like the granola though – I guess it just doesn’t taste like commercial cereal (missing the point but he is only 8!). I also work full-time so don’t have much time for cooking. I guess I’ve accepted that I can’t remove sugar from his diet but he is aware of what foods have sugar in them, and what is healthy. I’d prefer him not to eat bread as well but it’s just too inconvenient not to. He’ll always choose brown over white though because it’s healthier. I try to make it when I can. So tricky isn’t it.

I’ve had some in my Amazon basket for ages but can’t bring myself to check out! It’s so expensive. I’ve switched to real maple and real honey over the processed versions, but I feel I have to draw the line somewhere. It’s meant to be a very alternative to sugar though. I’d go for it.

Yes, Hillary, you are right about the baking aspects and honey….and even other aspects of fruits and veg when we cook them, which is why we should keep our grown foods close to raw and cooked at low temps (ok, of tad off subject) But I also use honey in my oatmeal and I have a favorite sandwich with my Ezekiel bread, almond butter and drizzling of honey! 🙂

Leah, that is so awesome!! I have to chuckle at myself because I was beginning to think that ours, and a few other school districts I am familiar with, were just “normal” and that I was the odd one to think we need to place some rules on sugar such as yours.

Thank you so much for your thoughts.

You just have to do what you can, right? Heating kills all the good stuff. I don’t really bake (except that no-knead bread) but my kid loves cookies, so I tend to buy him Oreos for a treat. They go alongside a piece of fruit, ha ha.

I am very concerned about the amount of sugar at my kids’ school! The amount of bday parties is totally ridiculous! I would love to get your suggestions on how you are working to eliminate it at your school as I met with our principal today and he basically said he cannot state what parents can and cannot bring to school. I think it’s beyond crazy that anyone can come to school and serve my child a sugar filled donut anytime they want.

In baking I’ve substituted sugar for dates. It’s a little sweeter than regular sugar so I do about 3/4 of what the regular recipe calls for. I’ve seen date sugar in stores but I feel like it’s more processed than just using regular dates.

When I don’t use dates I use raw honey or maple.

Curious why you prefer raw honey? I also love honey in it’s many forms and flavors, though as one who works with pregnant moms and infants, I tend to steer people away from the raw forms.

Yikes! Well, Deena, I am fortunate to have a principal who is behind the efforts. We have a wellness committee as well. I would start with other parents who share the same values.

Our school is also part of Commit 2B Fit schools because of a teacher we had last year. Fortunately we have another teacher who is continuing her efforts. So, find any teachers who may want to support you as well. Maybe I can do a blogpost sometime soon regarding this issue and what we are working on at my school. Good luck!

Here are some resources:
http://ahealthieramerica.org
http://icommit2bfit.org/programs/commit-2b-fit-school-program/

Hi Jessica,

I actually purchase my honey from a local farmers market and that is what they offer; raw. I do not have any concerns for myself nor any family members either. Now, in the respect of pregnancy and children, yes, it would be a different story as you have stated–as is also the case if I am working with a rare case such as an elderly person or those with a suppressed immune system; I would choose a non-raw form. 🙂

Oh my goodness! I knew I was overlooking something….so sorry! 🙂

So, lets see…although I have used it in baking a few times, it is not staple in my household. I looked at a few sights I would consider more reputable (as opposed to some of the other ones that were just looking for a sale) and there are some added nutritional benefits such as traces of vit C, potassium, phosphorus and a few others. It seems as though it is lower on the glycemic scale too.

It appears as thought the American Diabetes Association is saying that is ok for diabetics to consume but of course as with any sugar or carbohydrate, the same medical cautions prevail.

In the end, it is sugar, it has calories and should be seen as sugar. I hope this helps out somewhat.