The Ten Week Challenge Syllabus

I walked people through a ten week challenge, using the following syllabus.

Week 1 - Sugar-free
Week 2 - Whole grains
Week 3 - Wild-caught fish and grass-fed meats
Week 4 - Raw dairy
Week 5 - The microwave
Week 6 - Fats and oils
Week 7 - Cultured and fermented foods
Week 8 - Local and organic produce
Week 9 - Processed foods
Week 10 - Implementing lifestyle changes

Visit my Recipe Index over at Going Green in a Pink World.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Remind me (again) why we're not eating sugar??

In the 1800s, the average American consumed about 10 pounds of sugar a year. In 1996, studies showed that American sugar consumption was at 170 pounds per person!! (That's 46 teaspoons a day.) Staying aware, reading labels, and eating as many whole foods as possible can reduce your sugar intake enormously. For a very scary, but informative read, check out Dr. Nancy Appleton's article"146 Reasons Why Sugar is Ruining Your Health".

To be honest, I've been stalling this entry for awhile, because I feel like I could write a book about it. But I keep getting the question. What does it mean to be sugar free next week? I didn't want to commit to an answer, and I still won't. I think it's an individual choice. Depending on your goal, your diet may look a little different. Some people want to lose weight; others want to detox; others are interested in maintaining health. Let's look at the different kinds of sugar, and what effect it has on our bodies.

Types of Sugars
Most of our sugars end in -ose, and sugar alcohols end in -itol. That's a great way to read a label, even if you can't pronounce the word! Here are some common names for sugar on labels: sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup, dextrin, honey, invert sugar, maple syrup, raw sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, corn sweeteners, evaporated cane juice, high fructose corn syrup, malt, molasses, sorbitol, erythritol, xylitol, mannitol, lactitol and maltitol.

Glucose - blood sugar
Fructose - the main sugar found in fruit
galactose - milk sugar
dextrose - corn sugar
Sucrose - table sugar
maltose - starchy sugar (from vegetables)
High fructose corn syrup - found in MANY processed foods

What happens when I eat sugar?
The glycemic index of a food is the measure of how it affects glucose levels. If a food has a low rating, it is absorbed slowly into the blood stream, keeping insulin levels stable. The higher the rating, the more quickly the sugar goes into the bloodstream, signaling for the pancreas to release insulin to restabilize the blood sugar, or glucose, level.

Effects on weight

If you are looking to lose weight, understanding this is key. Insulin signals the body to store fat. So when you eat high sugar foods the body is being signaled to store fat! Additionally, high insulin levels raise triglyceride levels, which are responsible for high cholesterol. There is actually much evidence to support excessive consumption of sugar as responsible for high cholesterol, NOT red meat, butter, and eggs. See if you can wrap your head around this quote from the website Healing Daily,

"Because refined dietary sugars lack minerals and vitamins, they must draw upon the body's micro-nutrient stores in order to be metabolized into the system. When these storehouses are depleted, metabolization of cholesterol and fatty acid is impeded, contributing to higher blood serum triglycerides, cholesterol, promoting obesity due to higher fatty acid storage around organs and in sub-cutaneous tissue folds."

Disease and Sugar
Short response: Sugar suppresses the immune system and leads to and causes diseases.

Longer response: Our white blood cells need a high concentration of vitamin C in them in order to fight off bacteria, fungi, toxins and intruders. The molecular make-up of vitamin C and glucose are very similar. Glucose competes with vitamin C for space inside each cell, so if there is an abundance of glucose, there is a proportionately lesser amount of vitamin C. When you eat sugar and spike your insulin level, you're squeezing out the place of vitamin C. Your immune system is essentially shutting down. This can last for up to 6 hours. Go back to the top of this page if you haven't already, and read the well researched list of ways sugar is ruining our health. Snickers bar, anyone? I don't think so.

What does this mean for me?
Well, I think it depends on who you are and how you feel. Eating a piece of fruit with a larger meal will affect you differently than having a fruit roll-up or piece of cake for breakfast. I'm encouraging everyone to cut their ties to the sweet stuff for at least a week. It is up to you to decide the degree to which you take this. If you are trying to lose weight, you may want to nix fruit and honey for awhile. If not, you may want to eat a tablespoon of honey with your tea, or enjoy a banana with breakfast. Either way, I encourage you to consciously think about your relationship with sugar. What is it really contributing to your health?

Hidden sugars

salad dressing
more to come!

And please, don't go for the fake stuff. It's even worse than the real thing.

Coming up next week will be more entries on sugar substitutes, honey, fruit, and a few more surprises!

1 comment:

  1. I just posted on my own Lenten challenge of giving up all white and corn sugars for 40 days! If you're interested in someone else's personal story, go to Thanks for these posts!