Why we avoid sugar (and other stuff)

It’s not an ideological crusade to eradicate sweetness from the civilised world. It’s just a lifestyle of trying to eat well when you can. You can see the reasoning in the Mermaid’s tresses tagline: favourite family recipes: whole food, most of it healthy. Sugar is now in the “sometimes food” category.

It’s not just sugar that’s the problem, but it’s the easiest one to target because so much unhealthy food has sugar in it. So here’s a list of why we avoid sugar and the other baddies of our Western diet.

1. We feel better

If we have a generally healthy diet, we feel better. It’s as simple as that. By healthy, we mean avoiding processed foods. We still eat meat (not when our vegan friends visit), bread (sorry paleo), lentils (sorry carnivores), cake (sorry everybody else), vegetables (sorry kids, but you still have to eat your greens), and chips and cheesels at birthday parties (no apologies there).

In the past six months, we’ve cut our sugar down without much effort at all: even the kids now don’t like some of the very sweet things.

2. Other people feel better

When one of our kids was little, a drink of fanta, the wrong lolly, and our sweet little angel would become a screaming terror. We’d go for a brisk walk and all would be good again. We have other family members who, for most of their childhood, couldn’t tolerate any (refined) sugar at all or a host of other artificial chemicals: a rush, then a crash; sometimes just the crash. It’s not diabetes, but it taught our extended family about the evils of the wrong type of sugar and numbers on food labels.

3. This MRI scan of a fairly trim-looking bloke

'Your kidneys are swimming in a sea of fat. You have about 4 to 5 litres of internal fat'

‘Your kidneys are swimming in a sea of fat. You have about 4 to 5 litres of internal fat’ (ABC TV)

Where’s the fat? It’s everything that shows up as solid white in the image.

4. The long-term effects on your brain

Scientists have started to draw a link between Alzheimer disease and a diet high in sugar, fats and other bad stuff. There’s even a move to called the disease type 3 diabetes with the recent discovery that the brain can develop insulin resistance. Just having constantly high blood sugar levels, but not high enough for diabetes, puts people at risk of Alzheimer disease. Don’t believe me? I don’t want to believe me. Here’s just a few recent peer-reviewed articles:

4. Fog brain after just a  week

Even if you’re not a candidate for Alzheimer disease, just one week of a high-sugar and high-fat diet can give you fog brain (oops, cognitive impairment) and memory loss.

5. The risk of weight gain, insulin resistance and diabetes

There’s no history of diabetes in our family, and that’s how I want it to be. Eat a diet high in sugar and fats and other baddies for a long time, make your body pump out the insulin to control your blood sugar levels, and you run the risk of weight gain, insulin resistance, eventually leading to diabetes (type 2) — not necessarily in that order. We have friends who live with that, and it’s not an easy life. If you don’t know someone in that situation, just read through some wordpress articles on diabetes, or just this post. and get a feel for what you’re missing.

6. We’ve known all this for a long time

John Yudkin first identified the potential problems with sugar in 1972, in his landmark book Pure, White And Deadly: How sugar is killing us and what we can do to stop it.

Sugar: labelled pure, white and deadly four decades ago

Sugar: labelled pure, white and deadly four decades ago


 

The list of lists

It’s a list, and it fits in well with the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge. As always, here’s my top picks from other responses to the challenge. Enjoy.

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19 thoughts on “Why we avoid sugar (and other stuff)

      • Oh, I still have cake…I just use honey instead of sugar to make it! 🙂 No way could I give up on baked goods! 🙂 I just make healthier ones, using low-glycemic flours to keep my glycemic index down.

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  1. This is a very complex issue with way more than sugar as the issue. Heredity, chemicals, sedentary lifestyle all play a part. Highly refined substitutes are worse IMO. My system does not tolerate honey or corn syrup or agave syrup or fruit juice concentrates, they are all high in long chain carbs, sugar on the other hand is OK. I believe moderation in all things is the safest option.

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    • You are so right, hence the ‘and other stuff’ in the title. These are the reasons our family avoids sugar (and other stuff). We also don’t have ready access to corn syrup and the like where we live: it’s sugar, honey or chemicals.

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  3. I recently had an argument with a few of the grandparents in our lives when we as parents said our son needed some time without sugar. We had just come back from a holiday during which he had really over-done it and we thought he needed a break and a re-set. The grandparents freaked, thought we were depriving him in a way that would ultimately cause him to scarf sugar whenever he came in contact with it, causing him to eventually become obese (!!!). I tried to explain the idea was to teach self-regulation and balance and appropriate eating habits but I think the crux of the matter was that we ruined their fun – they wanted to spoil him! But kids can be spoiled without sugar 🙂 We are now in a routine of allowing a treat or two on the weekend and trying to keep the weekdays sugar-free (other than naturally occurring sugar in fruit).

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    • Good on you. It’s especially hard if they’re young and the grandparents want to do the spoiling thing. You know your son probably won’t even miss sugar after a while. Our tastes have started to change as a result of all this.

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  6. Ever since I was little i could never ever anything with too much sugar. Why? Just because I never like it. my two greatest enemy’s are anything that’s supposed to taste like strawberries and pop tarts. When I was 7 the other kids around me thought it was a crime not to like pop tarts. The only part I could eat were the corners that had no sugar on or in it. I geuss I’m not the only one who doesn’t like overly sweet things

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