Sugar vs. Sugar Free


By Nancy Smorch

Is sugar to blame for the obesity epidemic in the U.S. - along with diabetes, ADHD, yeast infections, and a number of other health issues?  I would say, yes.  It plays a huge role in many health issues we are dealing with today.

I may be stating the obvious, but what I want to draw your attention to is that, as more and more people become aware of the connection between sugar and disease, they will be looking for low-sugar and sugar-free alternatives.  And the food manufacturers are going to give them exactly what they are looking for.

So, I just want you to understand that just because something is low sugar or sugar free, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Take diet sodas as an example.  Even though there are no calories in them, they are loaded with chemicals that have been linked to other serious health problems like neurological challenges, skin disorders, tumors, and other issues.  You can read a more in-depth article here about the negative effects of artificial sweeteners.

Aside from the toxic effects on your system, there are other side effects on your system.  Even though artificial sweeteners taste sweet, and trigger communication with your brain’s pleasure center, your brain isn’t actually satisfied, thus leaving you craving more sweets.

Also, foods that are typically sugar free (unless they are whole foods as nature intended them), tend not to use higher quality ingredients.  Let’s say you just have to have cookies (which I am all for, by the way), but you feel like you can’t eat the sugar, so you buy a sugar-free cookie like Sugar-Free Oreos, take a look at the ingredient list and research the ingredients first.

Here’s the list of ingredients in these Oreos:

Maltitol*, Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, Riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, Folic Acid), High Oleic Canola Oil And/Or Palm Oil, Polydextrose*, Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), Cornstarch, Glycerin, Milk Protein Concentrate, Inulin (Natural Extract from Chicory Root), Whey Protein Concentrate, Emulsifiers (Vegetable Mono- And Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin), Leavening (Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate), Salt, Milk (Enzyme Modified), Dextrose+, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Cellulose Gum And Gel, Chocolate, Cream, Sucralose (Sweetener), Acesulfame Potassium (Sweetener). *Excess Consumption May Have A Laxative Effect. +Adds A Trivial Amount of Sugars.

First of all, the first ingredient, maltitol, may cause diarrhea (as noted by the asterisk).  If that doesn’t steer you away (and it should!), then take a look at Acesulfame Potasium - apparently it contains methylene chloride, a known carcinogen which has been known to cause nausea, liver problems, and headaches (among other issues).

I’m likely to say, just give me the organic sugar - HOWEVER, in moderation!  And make sure it's organic sugar - beet sugar, which is in most processed foods, is one of the top GMO crops in this country.

Here’s what I like to recommend to people who are trying to cut back on sugar: Rather than thinking about depriving yourself of the sugar, add other food into your diet.  For example, instead of focusing on cutting out all sweets (that never lasts), focus on drinking more water, or eating more vegetables, or incorporating more brown rice and quinoa (if you can do grains).  I know this sounds too easy, but what many people find, is that once their body gets the nutrients it needs, it won’t crave other foods as much.

The other thing I like to suggest is to look at other areas of your life - what are you craving in other areas of life and what are some of the areas that are out of balance?  Are you craving more intimate relationships or a more gratifying career?  Is your home life chaotic?  Do you have some toxic relationships you are still hanging on to?  Are you bored with your life and finding yourself lacking physical activity?

Often, when there is some sort of a food craving, there is an imbalance in some area of your life.  And when that imbalance is addressed, the craving subsides.

One last thought I’ll leave you with in terms of sugar: If you can’t get enough sugar (keeping in mind it can be addictive), are you allowing yourself to “enjoy the sweetness in life?"  Ponder that over some tea and honey tonight :).