Goodbye Processed Sugar

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Last month I participated in an online workshop called 31 Days to Build a Better Blog and while the class was full of great ideas and advice, “meeting” the other participating bloggers is my greatest takeaway.  I’ve got a number of these bloggers linked over there in the right column under “Blogroll” – check them out!

Kristin at Mind Your Bees and Trees has really captivated me.  Her healthy living blog focuses heavily on mindful, natural eating and since that’s where my blogging career habit began, I’ve really enjoyed reading her posts and recipes.

About two weeks ago, Kristin issued a challenge to join her in cutting out processed sugar for the next 4 months.  I’m incapable of saying no to challenge  so I was intrigued, but she sealed the deal for me with this line:

“The point is that by cutting out processed sugar, we will start to become more mindful of what we eat. “

YES!  This is a challenge about moving to a healthier mindset when it comes to food:  mindful, healthier, whole choices.

It’s probably useful to point out that I entirely lack a sweet tooth (don’t even like chocolate), so I’m not going to have to battle with dessert cravings to participate in this challenge.  However, my background in nutrition reminds me that cutting out processed sugar is NOT easy.  Unless you spend most of your grocery shopping expeditions on the outside aisles, you probably buy more processed sugar in non-dessert foods than you realized!

Consider joining Kristin (and me) in this challenge.  Head on over to Mind Your Bees and Trees to learn more about (and join!) the challenge and its rules.  I’ve also posted some answers to some common questions about processed sugar below.

What’s so bad about processed sugar anyway?  If you watch the news (or TV at all) then you know there’s tons of research linking high-sugar diets with diabetes, heart disease, high obesity rates and a whole slew of other chronic health problems.  Additional research suggests that heavily processed sugars are particularly problematic because they may be metabolized differently.  I think that quote from Kristin up there gets to the real issue, though.  Foods with lots of added sugar tend to be less nutritious overall – they are often highly processed which reduces the vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content of naturally occurring foods and they are usually high in calories per serving.

What are some surprising sources of added, refined sugar?  I mentioned that processed sugar seems to line the internal aisles of grocery stores these days.  We usually think of added sugar in things that taste sweet, but here is a list of a few store-bought items that are not desserts, but contain significant added sugar:

Salad Dressing

Loaf Bread

Pasta Sauce

Canned soups

Condiments (ketchup, mayo, bbq sauce, marinades)

Dried Fruit

Are there healthier natural sugars I can eat?  Absolutely.  Kristin has a good list of them here.  Stevia’s one of my favorites (especially in coffee).  I’m also allowing a small amount of “Raw Sugar” as it is significantly less-processed than regular sugar.  Mostly, I’m allowing it because a tiny amount is present in a favorite healthy snack of mine.  I’ll be posting a review of this snack later!

Further Reading:

Deepak Chopra on High Fructose Corn Syrup

American Heart Association on Added Sugar

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