I’m definitely guilty of thinking that as long as I’m eating natural sugar, and not the evil white stuff, I’m being healthy. But the more I research and think about this, the more I realize the sad, sad, SAD (it deserves 3 sads) truth:
Sugar is sugar.
Sure, it’s better for our overall health to bypass the highly processed versions of sugar, but when it comes to using sugar for energy (or—*shiver*—storing it as fat), our bodies don’t know the difference between a pile of table sugar and a few tablespoons of honey.
(This guy isn’t always earning his halo either.)
Did you know that honey has almost as much sugar in it as high fructose corn syrup?
Here’s the breakdown:
—Honey: about 30% glucose, 40% fructose
—High fructose corn syrup: about 42% glucose, 55% fructose
(the rest is water and some other sugars)
I used to think I was a pretty decent label reader, after almost three years of skimming for foods my son’s allergic to, but sugar is in a league of its own. Unlike common allergen foods, companies aren’t required to list it using its plain name, so you won’t see the word “sugar” anywhere on labels of some foods that are secretly loaded with the stuff.
First, there’s the fact that sugar has about a gazillion secret spy names (check out this list), but there’s also sugar in innocent-looking foods like fruit and milk (fructose and lactose), where it’s not specifically listed at all. So when we pick up those containers of juice that say “100% juice” and “no added sugar”—even if there’s only one ingredient (like oranges)—we have to realize that just the fact that it’s concentrated fruit means it has a high sugar content.
It doesn’t help that the word “sugar free” is thrown around like crazy. Lindsay recently wrote a great post about this, but basically, people will sometimes say “sugar free” when they mean “refined sugar free.” There’s often still honey, maple syrup, fruit, or something similar in it. (Even dates, the healthy living world’s golden children, have 19 grams of sugar per ounce, just 4 fewer than honey!)
Recipes that only use artificial sweeteners (including stevia, the “natural fake” sugar) are technically sugar free, but then you run into the whole “eating fake food” conundrum…
Are you depressed yet?
Me too. Trust me, I love sugar just as much as the next girl.
There are some treat recipes that are truly, really, actually 100% sugar free—and since I started the 10-day no sugar challenge, you bet I’ve been hunting them down.
For example, I mentioned these last week. They’re chocolatey, but not sweet—for me, it’s just enough to take the edge off. I think it’s more the ritual of eating sweets (specifically after meals) that I’m addicted to, so having a sugarless option around lets me continue that without sabotaging the challenge. Plus, after I have one or two, there’s none of that desperate gotta-eat-the-whole-batch feeling I have to fight with sugary treats.
Anyway, my point is: we have to stop putting a halo over natural sugars. They might not be quite the monsters their processed counterparts are, but they’re still just as good at making us fat.
And speaking of fat…fat is actually pretty darn good for us! It’s nourishing and satiating, and it doesn’t make our insulin production go nuts.
So if this post brought you down, go treat yourself to a nice buttery steak and a slab of bacon. It’ll be ok!
Have you ever tried a completely sugarless treat?
If so, do you have a favorite?