Welcome to the final installment of a three-part series on how to live SOS-free! In other words, how to cut added salt/sodium, oils/fats, and sugars/sweeteners out of your life.
Today I’m going to discuss the third “S” in “SOS”: sugar.
If you have a sweet tooth, this topic will hit particularly close to home. Chocolate, candy, cookies, and other sweets can be tough to resist!
Luckily, nature is full of delicious fruits and garden-grown goodies to satisfy your cravings. I love picking berries from my garden and creating colorful recipes that are chock full of natural sweetness!
Let’s talk about why added sugars are a problem, and how you can ditch them from your diet!
What’s the Problem With Sugar?
There’s no denying that sugar is delicious. And addictive! That’s why it’s so hard to stick to just one cookie or piece of candy.
Foods that are high in sugar (and oil and salt) almost always lead to overeating. This phenomenon is known as the “Pleasure Trap,” and it’s one of the reasons why these foods are problematic.
The over-consumption of sugar can lead to weight gain, blood sugar problems, and an increased risk of heart disease, among other health issues.
Unfortunately, the standard American diet (SAD) is packed with sugar. Just one can of Coke has a whopping 39 grams of sugar! And the average American eats around 153 POUNDS of sugar in a year.
Crazy, isn’t it?!
Eat Your (Complex) Carbohydrates!
Sugar is actually a carbohydrate. And while we should be getting the majority of our calories from carbs (70% to 90%), they should come from complex carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables, potatoes and yams, whole grains, beans and legumes.
Simple sugars are what we want to avoid — concentrated sweeteners like white sugar, corn syrup and processed foods (which tend to be loaded with sugar).
If you’re a label reader (as we all should be!), you’ll notice that even savory processed foods tend to have added sugars. Bread, for instance, is a common culprit.
It’s best to stick to whole, natural, plant-based foods. Fruit and other complex carbohydrates have plenty of wonderful sweetness without adding anything extra.
The Healthiest Fruits
All fruits are healthy and power-packed with antioxidants and other good-for-you nutrients!
Fruit — Have no fear!
There’s a common myth that when cutting sugar out of your diet, that should include fruit. But the complex carbohydrates found in fruits don’t create the same health issues as simple sugars.
Medical Medium says: “Fruit is actually the most important food to eat when healing from a disease. It is the most important food group to consume in order to protect you and your family from chronic illness. It slows down aging, kills pathogens, and heals our bodies at the cellular level.”
Medial Medium goes on to say: “Every nutrient we need cannot be absorbed unless it is accompanied by glucose. Our cells and our brains run on sugar (glucose).”
But we must eat the right kind of sugar found in fruits and potatoes and winter squashes.
So go ahead and indulge in your favorite fruits! Mother Nature has some wonderful sweets to offer.
Here are some fun facts about (just a few) health enhancing fruits:
Grapefruit: This tangy citrus fruit is known for helping with digestion and even aiding in weight loss. I love to cut a juicy grapefruit in half and eat it with a spoon for breakfast!
Pineapple: This tropical treat is packed with vitamin C and manganese; two crucial nutrients.
Blueberries: These yummy treats are one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world! (link to antioxidant blog)
Apples: You know what they say about apples? And it’s true! Adding your favorite varieties to your daily diet will give you lots of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin K.
Pomegranate: This exotic red fruit is super high in antioxidants. Actually, its antioxidant levels have been shown to be three times higher than those of green tea and red wine.
I could go on and on about the anti-aging, health affirming benefits of fruits — melons, kiwis, mangoes, pears, dates — all of them! So, don’t limit yourself. Dive right in and add lots of fruit to your everyday diet.