Constantly Craving Sweets?
You may have the sugar blues. Gain control without deprivation.
“Like heroin, cocaine, and caffeine, sugar is an addictive, destructive drug, yet we
consume it daily in everything from cigarettes to bread.
-William Dufty, author of Sugar Blues
Refined table sugar, also called sucrose, is very different. Extracted from either sugarcane or beets, sucrose lacks vitamins, minerals, and fiber and thus requires extra effort from the body to digest. The body must deplete its own store of minerals and
enzymes to absorb sucrose properly. Therefore, instead of providing the body with nutrition, it creates a deficiency. It enters swiftly into the bloodstream and wreaks havoc on the blood sugar level, first pushing it sky-high—causing excitability, nervous tension,
and hyperactivity—and then dropping it extremely low—causing fatigue, depression, weariness, and exhaustion. Health-conscious people are aware that their blood sugar levels fluctuate wildly on a sugar-induced high, but they often don’t realize the emotional roller-coaster ride that accompanies this high. We feel happy and energetic for a while, and then suddenly, inexplicably, we find ourselves arguing with a friend or lover.
Sugar qualifies as an addictive substance for two reasons:
1. Eating even a small amount creates a desire for more.
2. Suddenly quitting causes withdrawal symptoms such as
headaches, mood swings, cravings, and fatigue.
Today, sugar is found in many of the usual suspects, like cakes, cookies, and candy. But it can also be found in canned vegetables, baby food, cereals, peanut butter, bread, and tomato sauce. It is often disguised by fancy language, labeled as corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, glucose, or fructose. Even some so-called healthy foods contain sugar. An oatmeal raisin walnut Clif Bar has 20 grams of sugar, or 4.8 teaspoons. Compare
that to a jelly donut from Dunkin’ Donuts, which has 15 grams of sugar, or 3.8 teaspoons. You may think your afternoon cup of coffee only has a little sugar, but a 16-ounce Starbucks Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino actually contains 52 grams
of sugar, or 12.4 teaspoons—that’s like eating three donuts! Overconsumption of refined sweets and added sugars found in everyday foods has led to an explosion of hypoglycemia and type 2 diabetes.
Sugar has many names:
A mixture of glucose and fructose. Invert sugar is formed by splitting sucrose in a process called inversion. This sugar prevents crystallization of cane sugar in candy making.
LACTOSE, OR MILK SUGAR
Made from whey and skim milk for commercial purposes. It occurs in the milk of mammals. The pharmaceutical industry is a primary user of prepared lactose.
LEVULOSE, OR FRUCTOSE
A commercial sugar much sweeter than sucrose. Its sweetness actually depends on its physical form and how it’s used in cooking. Fructose, known as a fruit sugar, occurs naturally in many fruits.
Consists of coarse, granulated crystals formed from the evaporation of sugar cane juice. Raw sugar contains impurities and cannot be sold in grocery stores due to FDA regulations.
SORBITOL, MANNITOL, MALITOL, AND XYLITOL
Are sugar alcohols, or polyols. They occur naturally in fruits and are produced commercially from such sources as dextrose. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol made from a part of birch trees. Sorbitol, mannitol, and malitol are about half as sweet as sucrose. Xylitol has a sweetness equal to sucrose.
SUCROSE, OR TABLE SUGAR
From sugar cane or sugar beets. It consists of two simple sugars, glucose and fructose. It is about 99.9% pure and is sold in either
granulated or powdered form.
Raw sugar that goes through a refining process to remove impurities and most of the molasses. It is edible if processed under proper conditions; however, some samples in the past contained trace contaminants.
THERE ARE FIVE MAJOR CATEGORIES OF ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS THAT ARE APPROVED BY THE FDA.
1. Aspartame, sold under the brand names NutraSweet® and Equal®
2. Saccharin, sold under the brand name Sweet’N Low®
3. Sucralose, sold under the brand name Splenda®
4. Acesulfame K (or acesulfame potassium), produced by Hoechst, a German chemical company;widely used in foods, beverages, and pharmaceutical products around the world
5. Neotame, produced by the NutraSweet Company; most recent addition to FDA’s list of approved artificial sweeteners; used in diet soft drinks and low-calorie foods
Artificial sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes, are substances that are used
instead of sucrose (table sugar) to sweeten foods and beverages. Artificial sweeteners
are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Food Additives
Amendment to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which was passed by Congress
in 1958, requires the FDA to approve food additives, including artificial sweeteners,
before they can be made available for sale in the United States.
SYMPTOMS THAT HAVE BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH THE CONSUMPTION OF ASPARTAME.2
FORTUNATELY, MOST OF THESE SYMPTOMS ARE ALLEVIATED ONCE ASPARTAME USE IS DISCONTINUED.
Edema or swelling
Mild to suicidal depression
Numbness and tingling of extremities
According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no clear evidence that the artificial sweeteners on the market in the United States are related to cancer risk in humans. However, numerous studies performed on laboratory rats have linked aspartame and saccharin to cancer, including a seven-year study conducted by a major nonprofit oncology lab in Italy. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), on the other hand, cautions everyone to avoid aspartame, saccharin,and acesulfame K because they are unsafe when consumed in large amounts or are very poorly tested and not worth the risk. The CSPI lists neotame and sucralose as safe. Aspartame is of particular concern because it contains phenylalanine (50%), aspartic acid (40%), and methanol (10%), three well-recognized neurotoxins. Stevia-based sweeteners in the form of Truvia and PureVia have been rapidly replacing aspartame-sweetened products. However,
due to health concerns cited in literature,5 the FDA has not approved the use of whole-leaf Stevia or crude Stevia extracts as food additives. On the other hand, a “no objection” approval on the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list of additives was given to
its extracts known as Truvia, a sweet-tasting compound found in products like Coca-Cola, and Cargill and PureVia, typically found in PepsiCo products. Although Stevia has not retained an official “approval,” it is allowed to be marketed and sold as a dietary supplement. The popularity of this product continues to increase because of its zero calorie content and score of zero on the glycemic index. Nevertheless, the use of artificial sweeteners as a substitute for sugar remains a controversial topic and conflicting research remains.
What is the solution?
Addressing underlying reasons for sugar cravings and blood sugar dysregulation are the keys to quitting sugar. When insulin levels in your blood are high, it affects the amount of testosterone and estrogen in your bloodstream. Balanced blood sugar promotes balanced hormones. An important step to take on the journey to balancing your hormones is to balance your blood sugar. You can test your blood sugar at home using a glucose testing meter. This is a great way to discover what your fasting blood sugar actually is, and whether you are keeping your blood sugar balanced after meals. Another great tool for balancing blood sugar and keeping sugar cravings at bay is through meal timing and food combinations. Contact me for great ways to use food combinations, blood sugar testing, and food timing to battle and beat sugar blues. Or, join me, I will be leading a workshop on February 20th, 6:30 pm at Holistic Integrative Wellness Centre in Oakbrook Terrace.
Learn how to make desserts that are delicious, satisfying, and loaded with health promoting micronutrients!
Ginger peach sorbet
Banana vanilla nice cream
Fudgy black bean brownies