Reducing Sugar One Teaspoon at a Time

All of this health information and all of this negative focus on sugar may leave you feeling a little overwhelmed… or maybe throwing your hands up and saying, “What can I do?  Bad and nasty sugar is everywhere!!!” (And I like it!!)  Well, I like it too, but I used to be so inundated with it that nothing tasted sweet to me unless it was ridiculously sweet.  You may find that cutting the sugar out a bit at a time will not be missed as much as you think.

Here are some suggestions for cutting the pernicious sugar in your life.  (I will be employing the thesaurus function as I describe sugar in this post – just a warming.)  As Little Sis suggested in Lessons From the Cereal Aisle, you can work on a single item at a time (like cereal).  Set a goal for how much destructive sugar you are comfortable having in your bowl.  One teaspoon?  Two teaspoons?  One teaspoon is about 4.5 grams of nasty sugar and two teaspoons is about 9 grams, so if you are comfortable with 9 grams of insidious sugar in your cereal, make sure all of the cereal in the house is less than 9 grams for the amount you would have in your bowl.  (Often serving sizes are very small in the nutrition information)  I can’t say that I’ve ever been satisfied by 1/2 cup of cereal in the morning!

You can do this with other items as well.  Find flavored or fruited yogurt that has less harmful sugar than other brands.  This is very difficult, although Greek yogurt tends to have less.  We used to buy a brand called Cascade that had 16 grams of appalling sugar (still almost 4 teaspoons!) which was the lowest I could find at the time.  Try the mixing approach that Little Sis suggested for cereal.  Mix half plain and half flavored or fruited yogurt to cut the dreadful sugar in half.  Even better, buy plain and fresh fruit, dried fruit and/or nuts, cinnamon or vanilla.  Cinnamon is naturally sweet and can also be used on cereal to reduce the need for ghastly sugar as a sweetener.  And if you need to add some terrible sugar to make it palatable, I bet you can get away with less than the 5 – 8 teaspoons found in most 6oz. containers of yogurt.

Look at the beverages you are drinking.  This is a huge place to reduce your horrific sugar intake.  Please stop drinking soda, vitamin water and other sweetened beverages.  Really.  There is 10 and more teaspoons per can of soda.  I know, it’s easier said than done… here are some things to try:

  1. Cut back.  Just reduce by one a day for a set period of time.  Then reduce by another.  If you’re only drinking one sweetened beverage a day (and personally I think this includes juice as well), then cut it in half.  Something of a waste of money, but hey if you replace the other half with water at least you’re not spending more!
  2. Mix it.  Especially juice is easy to water down a little – or soda water down which gives some nice bubbly as well.  Can’t say I’ve tried watering down soda, but if you want to make a smaller serving seem bigger, serve it over LOTS of ice.
  3. Find something new.  Water is your best choice, but if you find some herbal tea that you like, you can make a big batch, refrigerate it and drink that instead.  It will have some flavor.  If you have to add a teaspoon per 8 or 12 ounce serving you are still cutting back.

Find substitutions for the cruel sugary things in your life.  Here is a recipe we are using to replace granola and energy bars which can also be loaded with spiteful sugar.

LEMON KISSED CASHEW HEMP BARS (Raw, vegan, gluten and soy free)
Makes 12 bars (6 for a more generous snack)

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup hemp seeds (I used pumpkin seeds as I didn’t have any)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest

Place the cashews in a food processor and process till ground up.  Add the dates and hemp seeds and pulse repeatedly.  Then, add the lemon and lemon zest and leave the motor on until the whole thing has formed a big, uniform, sticky ball.  Take a large sheet of saran wrap and place it over the bottom of a small baking dish. Press the mixture down into it, till it’s even in thickness.  Cover with another sheet of saran, and freeze for at least 30 minutes.  Unwrap the “dough,” lay the rectangle flat on a cutting surface, and cut into 12 bars.  Wrap up individually and store in the fridge or freezer till ready to eat. I’m not sure how long they’ll keep, but I suspect up to two weeks is perfectly fine, and longer if you freeze them.
I got this recipe from a great site called choosing raw : http://www.choosingraw.com/sweet-snacking-lemon-kissed-cashew-hemp-bars/

A few other places to reduce the amount of icky sugar in your diet:

  1. Reduce the amount you put in coffee.
  2. Substitute cinnamon sugar that is mostly cinnamon and used sparingly for jelly or jam.
  3. Eat a piece of fruit instead of drinking a glass of juice.
  4. Check labels and buy brands with less wounding sugar or make your own.

If you try to change your whole diet in a week you will more than likely go back to your old ways, or miss them terribly.  I have found that I do not miss my old diet because I feel better – so give yourself some time to make and FEEL changes.  You might even see changes in the mirror and on the scale.  For more info on changing your diet one teaspoon or one change at a time see Baby Steps & Baby Steps Add up to Big Healthy Steps.

Sugar Busting

Looking around the blogosphere, it seems like sugar is on everybody’s lips… and no, I don’t mean they all just ate powdered donuts (please don’t do this).  I guess what I should say is that sugar is on everybody’s mind; according to a growing number of doctors and research scientists, sugar is also on our hearts, our arteries, our cancer cells, our livers, our EVERYTHING.  If you didn’t watch it, or haven’t seen it on some other blog since Sunday, here’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s story on sugar as a toxin.  This is 60 Minutes, folks.  Not a guru in Big Sur (no offense, California because I love you, this was useful as hyperbole only) describing his cosmic understanding of sugar.  This is a conventional news outlet running a story on what many doctors think is the biggest health problem in the United States.

If you have the stomach for it, the 60 Minutes website has a few links to off-air conversations about sugar.  The lead doctor interviewed, Robert Lustig, also has a longer documentary about the toxicity of sugar in the diet.  There is a shorter version, with the a great explanation of the science for non-science folks by Underground Wellness. If you find ANY of these remotely convincing, you’ll be wanting to decrease your sugar intake pronto. So, we’ve decided to become a little more focused (say WHAT?!) in our posts for the next several days to offer some simple strategies to cut sugar in your diet. Not enough on their own, but baby steps are, in our collective experience, a good place to start.

So we began our Sugar Busting Series this morning with Big Sis’s post about the ease and wisdom of brewing iced tea for the road when traveling rather than guzzling sugar poo from a convenience store. In a perfect celebration of the upcoming calvacade of candy that is Easter in the U.S., we will be offering several more posts about increasing the natural sweetness of a less sugary life.