A while back I had the pleasure of doing a FB Live with Christina Beckett of Sleek & Sassy Nutrition! We chatted all about sugar. So today I thought I’d share the interview with you all! I know sugar is always such a hot topic so hopefully this helps clear up some of the confusion for you.
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S&S: Tell me a bit about sugar. What kinds of sugar are there? And how do they impact the body? (ie natural vs. added)
So there’s refined sugar also often called processed sugar. Basically that refers to sugar that under goes the most work between being harvested and what you actually eat. There’s a lot of heat applied which kills of nutrients. Generally these sugars are devoid of any nutrients. Your basic white table sugar is a refined sugar.
Then there’s unrefined or “natural” sugars. These undergo less processing and retain some nutrients although not a ton. These are things like pure maple syrup and coconut sugar. Stevia sometimes gets put in this category since it comes from a plant but is processed… it’s a zero calorie sweetener though so sometimes you’ll also see it lumped in with artificial sweeteners.
Then we have sugar alcohols which do contain calories but less than refined or unrefined sugar products. They don’t affect your blood sugar levels as strongly. They also can usually be substituted equally to refined or unrefined sugar which make them easy to bake with. This is things like xylitol and insulin. They can be hard on the digestion though.
All added sugar is hard on the body and that’s why it needs to be limited… no matter where it comes from. It’s inflammatory and inflammation is at the root of almost all illnesses and disease.
S&S: What about zero calorie sweeteners? Can I use those? If they are zero calorie, they can’t be bad, right?
The problem with zero calorie sweeteners is that our body’s do not recognize them properly and aren’t very good at digesting them. There are foods we have been eating for centuries and so our body’s know what to do with them…. zero calorie sweeteners are not that way. They are often created in a lab and not found in nature. They tend to wreak a lot of havoc on our body’s so I personally recommend avoiding them. They can contribute to leaky gut, inflammation, digestion problems and more. The two most common ones are aspartame and high fructose corn syrup.
One thing to keep in mind is that the calories are just ONE part of the equation. Food is so much more complex! We have to look at everything that is in an ingredient even how it is processed to have some idea of how our body will respond.
S&S: Ok, so for those of us that have been craving sweets like mad (and eating too many of them)….how do we stop? What is step one?
Step one is to be aware and be able to answer the what, why and where. So keeping a food journal is great because it’s going to allow you to see where your sugar intake is coming from (so you get a better idea of how much of it you are eating and where you could cut back), why you’re eating it (was it a craving, did you not realize there was added sugar) and what sort of sugars are you consuming (fruit, natural, artificial etc). I am a big proponent of mindful eating so really knowing what you are consuming and make it a conscious choice.
From there you can start finding alternatives like buying bread that doesn’t have sugar or making your own ketchup or salad dressings… You can also dig deeper into why you are reaching for sugar. If it’s a craving, sometimes that can be emotional.. if you’re always reaching for something sweet when you feel sad or stressed then the real root of the issue isn’t the sugar its the emotion and you have to work on that.
S&S: How long do I need to detox for?
There’s really no set time. Our body’s are constantly detoxing so what we want to do is simply offer support to our body to make that process easier! So adding in foods like leafy greens and removing things like added sugar. Doing this on a regular basis is important. But you can also do a structured detox program whether it’s 1 day or 3 days or 2 weeks. A lot of it depends on your needs and your life style… how toxic do you think your diet and lifestyle are? The more toxic, the longer you probably need to do a detox program for. It also depends on the type of program. The one I offer is 2 weeks because it’s an elimination style detox where you take a lot of common food intolerances out for a week and then the following week you add them back in. You do get to eat a lot, it’s not like a juice cleanse, but it takes time. For someone who doesn’t need that, they could simply do one week of the program or even just a few days.
S&S: Will I have withdrawal symptoms?
Detox symptoms are common any time you drastically “clean up” your diet. We shed toxins through our skin so sometimes some breakouts can happen. Headaches often occur. Sometimes people will find themselves going to the bathroom more or less often. These things are all normal and generally pass after a few days… again depending on what your diet and lifestyle were like before starting the detox program. It also really helps to ease into and prepare yourself for a program by cutting out caffeine and alcohol days before… rather than just jumping right in. In my Nourish program I go over in detail different detox symptoms as well as signs of a food intolerance and things you can do help support your body during this time… things like dry brushing and castor oil packs.