Sugar: What I Learned and What I Believe Part 1

When I was first told to avoid added sugar, especially the heavily processed sweeteners, there were 2 main thoughts that ran through my head, “NO CUPCAKES!” and “How am I really suppose to follow that? I do not have control over ingredients in food.” It was challenging to process the rest of what my doctor was telling me after that, luckily she gave me quite a bit of reading material and I was able to email her with questions. Of course, I became stunned even further when I learned all the different names for sugar that you can find on ingredients lists… O_O

So much needed to change for me to obtain a higher quality life and I was determined to make it happen. I had definitely developed a heavy sweet tooth since the first year of graduate school, but to be honest I always had a sweet tooth. I loved cake and I still love cake. I had become a frequent customer of gourmet cupcake shops and everyone close to me knew I was obsessed with cupcakes. I receive cards and gifts with a cupcake themes to them for every occasion. Why cupcakes? I find that they are the perfect serving size with the potential for the most delightful balance between cake and frosting. 🙂

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I digress, I had already been trying to cut back on sweets at the time I visited the doctor since more family members were being diagnosed with diabetes recently. However, I had developed this strange routine of not eating ice cream, candy or baked goods for 7 days and then ALL THE TREATS in one day. Not the best method. I was itching for something sweet after every meal still and avoided social gatherings because of the desserts. I felt like I had an addiction, but I had always believe that it was more something in your life or lack of education that caused you to eat poorly. Not that those do not play a role.

In the process of reading each ingredient label and finally coming to terms with letting go of foods I had come to depend on, I noticed there are people with strong opinions about sugar. Not just the processed sugars added to food, but even a piece of fruit. Out of curiosity, I followed these point of views and began to question why is sugar in everything?

Then, I watched That Sugar Film and I began to question even more. Why are governments so entangled with our food suppliers? Why are there so many words for sugar with the same source or even when it is the exact same product? Why do foods with honey in the title have cane sugar higher on their ingredient lists? Why do they modify maple syrup with other sweeteners? Why do so many savory, salty products have added sugars in their ingredients? Why would folks want sweetened nut milk if they had been drinking unsweetened dairy milk? I feared that food corporations had the worst for us in mind just to make money. Do they know what their products are doing to people? Do they really add sugar to keep people coming back for more? Not to mention, it has been proven that artificial sweeteners, thought to help you lose weight, actually increase your appetite. It was a lot to take in.

I needed to focus on what my body needed though because a change starts with you. You have the power to change the demand for foods you require to be happy and healthy. I  was amazed when I first requested certain produce, types of meat and other whole foods at my local grocery. They actually listened and brought in some things I requested! 🙂 It restored some faith in the system for me. By the way, I see nothing wrong with the sugars that naturally exist in produce and other whole foods.

In the end, I believe the large food producers and most of our government officials do not have our interests in mind. They are in this to make money. Taste is important to them, but nutrition clearly is not. I feel like we need to take actions into our own hands whether by making our own food again, informal nutrition education, demand higher quality products at our grocery stores or more accessible nutrition labels on all food. Additionally, it may seem like certain foods are the devil if you have digestive issues, but keep in mind that it is not an issue for everyone and it could more be the misuse of the product by our food suppliers that makes it villainous.

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