When it rains, it pours… that’s the saying right? Well it’s true. Why make one change to your diet when you can make 3?? The first was adding more beans to my diet thanks to an article by Theresa Albert on her site, My Friend In Food, which I happen to spend a lot of time on as the book reviewer… and because I get caught up reading really interesting blog posts.

The second was my own personal vegetarian challenge – which I’m happy to say is another week down and going swimmingly! But a check in post on that next week.

The third, and for the time being final, change to my eating habits come in the form of sugar. Or as I’m thinking of it “a search and destroy mission of all processed sugars from my diet… as much as possible… while still living happily”.

Whats so bad about sugars? And what types of sugars are bad for you?? Here is the short answer:

All sugar is bad for you to some degree. Some more than others. The processed, refined sugars you find in soda, candy and most dessert is the worst. But even the natural sugars from juice (even the ones with no sugar added) are pretty bad to. Here is the article that got me started looking at all this from My Friend in Food, and here is the in depth lecture about how your body handles sugar. It’s really worth a watch, even if you can’t follow along with every bit of the hardcore science behind it (like me).

Why is sugar bad? Your body wasn’t made to process it. When it is digested it is treated the same way as alcohol – the liver has no idea what to do with it so it builds up and it mostly turned into fat instead of energy. Think of this – what do an all protein, no carb diet like Atkins and a mostly carb, light protein diet like those in Asian cultures have in common? They both keep the pounds off… but how? They both eliminate (or never had to begin with) excessive amounts of sugar from the diet.

The solution – fiber. Natural sugars like those from pieces of fruit (not in juice where the fiber is removed) contain fiber to help your body process the bad with the good. It’s as simple as swapping out your white sugar for one of these:

– Honey
– Maple Syrup
– Agave Nectar
– Cane Sugar

Brown sugar doesn’t count – neither does ‘raw sugar’. But these options have natural sweetness with fiber to help your body process it.

So what am I doing to cut back my sugar? Well I’ve gotten rid of all the processed sugar in the house and am using the healthier alternatives. I’m also cutting back on the quantity of sugar I use… a little shock at first but I’m getting used to my morning tea with half a spoon full of honey instead of two of white sugar!

As always I’m making as much as possible from scratch to avoid the sugars in processed foods, but the biggest change is juice. No more juice. Drinking your sugar is the fastest way to get way too much of it and juice is swimming in the stuff. We’ve already cut out the flavoured milks, thanks Jamie Oliver, and I have only one soda a month as a special treat (harder for me than it sounds)… but juice is the big change. I’ve replaced it with smoothies. Grinding whole fruit to keep the fiber, mixed with a little yogurt and honey and a little skim milk to get the texture right. It’s fruity and tasty, but there is fiber with the sugar to help your body.

This has been one of the hardest changes for me to make… not just because sugar is everywhere but because we are so dependant on it. When I first cut out my daily soda back in the day, I had headaches and withdrawal symptoms. Pretty scary seeing as this is just a can of fizzy sugar water that I can get anywhere at any time… why should it have this effect on me?

Have you been cutting sugar from your diet? Have any tips? How is it going?