Have you heard “The Toxic Truth about Sugar”? Last week, a group of scientists published their research on sugar in the journal Nature. Sugar, they found, can trigger “liver toxicity and a host of other chronic diseases.” They suggest using the models of intervention used to reduce alcohol and tobacco use to similarly reduce sugar use.
A lot of our customers talk about how they have created sugar-free nutrition for their families. This isn’t just a would-be-nice dream. When you consider the damage sugar can cause, keeping your children away from sugar becomes a high priority for their current and future health.
So, where do you start?
Know Sugar When You See It
Start in your pantry. Look at every food item and train yourself to find the hidden sugars that you didn’t even realize were hiding in your kitchen. Look for:
- Agave Nectar
- Brown Sugar
- Cane Crystals
- Corn Sugar
- Corn Sweetener
- Corn Syrup
- Crystalline Fructose
- Evaporated Cane Juice
- Fruit Juice Concentrate
- High-fructose Corn Syrup
- Hydrogenated Starch
- Invert Sugar
- Malt Syrup
- Maple Syrup
- Raw Sugar
- Turbinado Sugar
That might not even be all of the hidden sugars. I compiled the list from several sources calling attention to added sugar on food labels.
And, Know Where Those Sugars Hide
Next step, look beyond the obvious places to find places that you just can’t believe would have added sugars. Look for sugar in toothpaste, cough syrup, chewing gum, mints, flavoured yogurt, vitamin water, bottled tea, juice drinks, packaged cereals, instant cereals, granola bars, applesauce, preserved fruit, salad dressing, barbeque sauce, tomato sauce, baked beans, soup, sugar-cured meats, as well, of course, as candies, cakes, and everything else you already know has sugar in it.
Have you found sugars in most of your canned, boxed, bottled, and otherwise packaged foods? To avoid the hidden sugars, start your family’s sugar-free journey by giving up prepared and packaged foods. It’s a simple and essential move.
Maybe you still want sweets (like the gooey sugar-free brownies we linked to on Saturday on the Making Love in the Kitchen blog). There are an abundance of websites and cookbooks that will help you find substitute sweets or sweets with less sugar, but they are still sweets.
Stop Looking for Substitutes
In the end, I suggest that rather than looking for substitutes to satisfy a sweet tooth, you get to the root of the problem and eat without the sweet. Pull your family’s natural human appetite for sweets back to levels the body can handle and satisfy that appetite with natural sweeteners like fruit, dairy, or even a bit of honey or maple syrup.
Start now so your children won’t expect sweets. By now, I mean even if you are just pregnant. Start from the first minute and the minute before that to bring your family’s nutritional focus to whole foods. Help your young children value the tasty, natural flavors of fresh foods without additives. (Read “My Sugar-free Son” at Mothering.com.)
Families are going sugar free by managing then shifting expectations about sweets. The amount of sugar consumed by the average North American is staggering. You don’t have to accept that as normal or inevitable for your children. Start with substitutions then move on to a whole new way of looking at food. You’ll feel great, and your children will grow without the hindrance of all of those toxic calories.