SUGAR: A trick or a treat?

So what do you think?  Is sugar a trick?  Is sugar a treat?  Or is this a trick question?  You got me.  It is a trick question.  Unless someone has metabolic disorders (diabetes, etc.), the naturally occurring sugars in practically all plant foods is good.  Why?  Taste and energy.  We need to eat our vegetables and without the mini-treat of sugar that naturally comes in them, we would be much less likely to eat them.  And the sugar in food is a source of energy...which I will qualify below.

And even the sweeter fruits, eaten as a treat, are loaded with nutrients.  When Doug and I were in Jamaica we enjoyed fresh sugar cane from a local farm.  Even with the intensely high sugar of the sugar cane, there were some other nutrients in the cane.  So when does the treat become a trick?  Concentration.  Concentrated fruit juice.  Evaporated cane juice.  Table sugar.  This is a trick because...

  • It spikes the blood sugar levels too quickly, causing hyper-energy immediately (picture your kids running around the house on Halloween candy) and low-energy after insulin brings the blood sugar back down.
  • Concentrated sugar increases appetite.
  • Concentrated sugar increases your risk for metabolic diseases.
  • Concentrated sugar weakens your immune system.  (Let's see, we eat a lot of sugar from October 31-January 1.  That is not a great idea during cold/flu season.)
  • Concentrated sugar ages the skin.

But can you ever have a treat without it tricking you?  Yes.  Make it a treat-time...when you really want it vs out-of-habit.  Make it treat-size...not a handful of candy or a large piece of cake.  Make sure it is something you truly consider a treat - one of your favorites...not just something sweet that is offered to you.  And savor it.  Eat it without guilt, enjoying each bite.  (Otherwise, you'll not be satisfied and go for a second serving.)  Finally, ALWAYS after a balanced meal.  The protein and fiber of your meal will slow down the digestion of the sugar.

Ask yourself:  Is this really a treat or would I be all right without it?

Then...enjoy your treat and don't be tricked!

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