For every positive piece of information we can find about a product, we can typically find a negative piece of information to go along with it: Butter is bad. Butter is good. We all need to drink milk. We should all stay away from dairy products. Eat only organics. Organics don’t matter. Eat brown rice. Brown rice may be a source of toxic arsenic.
Pardon me while I go bang my head against the wall. (Although I read once that doing so may not be good for my health.)
Because there is so much conflicting information out there, my conviction is to stick with eating a balanced variety of food that is food. Food that has been around forever. Food that provides needed nutrients to keep me healthy and strong. Meat, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, whole dairy, eggs, nuts, beans…my body needs them all.
But then there’s sugar.
Should we be eating sugar? And if so, in what form? Artificial sweeteners are not real - which is, in fact, the reason they are called artificial - so we should not be putting them into our bodies. White sugar is completely empty. High fructose corn syrup is highly processed and toxic. So instead, shouldn’t we stick with sugar in its whole form: honey, real maple syrup, dehydrated cane sugar (sucanat)?
Yes, if you’re going to eat sugar, that’s my recommendation. Those are real. Our bodies recognize them and utilize them. But here’s the bigger “thing,” along with my confession to you:
Sugar - in any form - whether it is all natural, whole, or straight out of a bee hive – is still sugar. Our bodies handle these better than processed white sugar and high fructose corn syrup, for sure. But don’t think that since you’re eating cake made from sucanat you can go ahead and eat half the cake. You’ll still get sugar overload.
I know this. I’ve lived this.
I’ve been addicted to sugar my whole life. I hate to think how much sugar I’ve put into my body. When people tell me, sheepishly, how much they love sugar and have a hard time giving it up, I so totally get it. I’ve been right there with you, loving sugar, eating too much sugar, sneaking extra bites of sugar-filled goodies – all in the name of “I’m eating healthier treats so this can’t possibly be too terribly bad for me.”
My body has not been like, “Oh, thank goodness all this sugar you’re feeding me is in its natural form.” No way. Instead, my body has been like, “Mmmm, sugar. Give me more. Sorry you feel crummy and catch colds frequently. Now about that sugar. Weren’t you going to feed me more? I’ll take it in chocolate form. Or butterscotch. Why are we even still having this conversation? Give me sugar!”
Let’s Learn Moderation
Our bodies do need sugar to function properly. Yay! Bring on the cheesecake.
Hmmm, well actually, our bodies don’t need that much sugar. Plus it prefers sugar from fruit, vegetables, and other carbs like potatoes and grains. Cheesecake? It’s an awesome and fun treat sometimes. Enjoy!!! But keep it a treat and keep it occasional. You’ll enjoy it so much more this way.
Do you struggle with eating sugar in moderation? Oh how I know how you feel. Don’t feel guilt. Don’t feel stupid. Don’t give up and eat a quart of ice cream. God knows what you need, what your struggles are, and what you desire. He’ll help you break free from this. Don’t make it a “thing.” That will just make you worried and frustrated. Let God help you with this one. That’s the one and only way I know how to beat the addiction.
So What About Stevia?
I’ve recently been experimenting with liquid stevia. Stevia is an herb, which is naturally sweet. It is not a sugar, nor is it an artificial sweetener. It takes a teeny-tiny bit of stevia to provide just the right sweetness, compared to the amount of sugar/honey/maple syrup/sucanat it takes to provide sweetness.
Sounds great, right? Yep, and I’ve been excited about using it as a way to cut down on sugar.
But guess what? There’s controversy about stevia. (Surprise, surprise.) Is it really good for you? Does eating it cause side effects?
I spent several hours recently doing more research on stevia. I went to some of my most trusted sources. I went to random sources I’ve never heard of. I did internet searches. I read article after article. My findings?
Most say that stevia is safe and healthy. Some people are allergic to stevia. (Some people are allergic to cats.) Highly refined stevia can cause digestive issues. (As does most anything that is highly refined.) Stevia in its whole form has not been approved for consumption by the FDA. (Though they have approved pesticides, aspartame, and Captain Crunch as a part of this balanced breakfast.)
Then there are the forums I found that talk about stevia being used as birth control. These claims caused me to spend considerable time researching. I only found a few articles on this topic, and while it seemed that the authors had done their research, none of them were from sources I’ve heard of. Based on what I read, I believe you would have to consume a LOT of stevia for it to effect your fertility.
My Conclusions About Stevia
I tend to stick with my trusted resources (Mercola, Fallon, Price) who tell me that stevia is an okay food when it is in its whole form. Much of the other information I found was in forums or not backed by research.
Some countries have been consuming stevia for centuries. Japan has been using it as a sweetener since the 1970′s. According to Price, “In all this time, there have never been any reports of toxicity or adverse reactions to its usage.” I found that article to be very helpful, especially given how many years of research and study went into Price’s findings.
Stevia should not be eaten in excess, because that is not the purpose of stevia. Those who have been consuming stevia for years and years have not been gorging on it. They use it as it should be used – in very small amounts.
After all my hours of research, I’ve concluded that I will keep eating it occasionally. Stevia gives me a nice option as a sweetener when I want to avoid sugar. I encourage you to do your own research and seek your own conviction. You can certainly take stevia or leave it. It’s not like we’re talking about vegetables, which are not an optional food choice for optimum health. Stevia isn’t a health food that we all need in order to thrive, right? It’s simply a real food sweetening option.
Here is What I Really Want You To Hear Me Saying Today:
Desserts, treats, and sweets? Whether we’re adding table sugar, sucanat, honey, real maple syrup, or yep, even stevia – these should never be our main food focus. I think we get all wrapped up in figuring out how to sweeten our drinks and desserts in a healthy way, when the bottom line is that we should not be eating or drinking many sweets anyway. I’ll continue to use a tiny bit of stevia in my Chocolate Whipped Cream. I’ll drizzle a few drops of real maple syrup on my Whole Wheat Waffles. I’ll add a touch of honey or sucanat to my homemade muffins. These are all real food, real good options as a part of my balanced, whole food diet.
But none of those foods are going to be my main food focus. Desserts, no matter how I sweeten them, will remain a treat. Fruits, vegetables, meats, good fats, eggs, whole dairy, nuts, beans, and a few whole grains will continue to be my focus – in balance and for wholesome nourishment.
Balance, Balance, Balance
That’s the key word, right? Balance. Try not to let all the contradictory information out there baffle our minds. If we do, we’ll all just feel like banging our heads against the wall. (Which is, if you recall, not a healthy option according to all the experts.)
Let’s continue to enjoy the gift of food variety, and focus on giving our bodies balanced nourishment. Sound like a plan?