White Poison

23 Jun

No, I’m not talking about cocaine, but I might as well be. I’m talking about sugar. Just like cocaine, sugar is highly addictive and wreaks havoc on the body. The only difference: cocaine is illegal and sugar is not only legal, it’s EVERYWHERE! Of course there are the typical culprits- soda, ice cream, cookies, and candy. But did you know there is added sugar in ketchup, deli meat, “reduced-calorie” salad dressings, and even some canned veggies? JWD and I were reminiscing about sugar the other day. I used to drown my fresh strawberries in white poison and he used to eat it by the spoonful straight-up! A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down? Mary Poppins, what were you thinking??

So why is sugar so bad? Well, not all sugar is bad. Sugars are actually carbohydrates. There are simple carbohydrates (fruit sugars, corn syrup, alcohol, table sugar) and complex carbohydrates (legumes, grains, vegetables). The simpler the sugar, the faster it is released into your system. This quick release causes a spike in your blood glucose which is what causes the short-lived sugar-high followed by an energy slump. If this quick energy isn’t used, then it will be stored as fat. Complex carbohydrates are released into the system more slowly, providing a steady supply of energy without blood glucose spikes. Although fruit sugars are simple sugars, they also contain some fiber and other valuable nutrients. This is what separates “good sugars” from “bad sugars”. Why is “bad sugar” so bad? First of all, it’s addicting. Most of us crave something sweet after lunch and dinner because we’ve made a habit out of dessert. I crave it when I’m stressed because it releases endorphins that make you feel good. Things that make us feel good are addicting (shopping anyone??) “Bad sugars” also don’t have any nutritional benefits. They wreak havoc on our insulin levels and other hormones. They mess with our metabolism, reduce elasticity in our skin, and have even been linked to some cancers. Sugar has even been dubbed the leading accelerator of premature aging!

So now that you recognize that sugar is like poison, how can you kick your sugar habit? Industry has answered this question with artificial sweeteners like Sweet ‘N Low, Nutrasweet, Equal, and Splenda. Although the jury is still out on most of these, my verdict is a big fat NO! They are created in a lab by chemicals and scientists. Our bodies don’t recognize these substances and don’t know how to process them. Although a “safe” limit has been established for most artificial sweeteners, they are so new that their long-term effects have yet to be established. Who knows, they could cause cancer! One short-term effect has been noted- artificial sweeteners may cause you to actually crave sugar because your body recognizes that it’s not the real thing. It’s best to play it safe and keep them out of your diet or use them in extreme moderation. Back to the question of how to kick your sugar habit. Here are some techniques I use…

How I tame my (voracious) sweet tooth

  • Chew mint gum. Yes, gum contains artificial sweeteners (Sorbitol, to be exact). I don’t chew a lot of gum, but if I have a sweet tooth after a meal, a minty piece of gum usually makes the craving disappear and occupies my mouth.
  • Drink tea or water. I’ve been drinking iced tea like it’s going out of style and I do the same with hot tea in the winter. Something about the flavorful liquid keeps my sweet tooth at bay. I also love to squeeze lemons or limes into my ice water to occupy my taste buds.

My current iced tea obsession: Tazo Passion Tea

  • When the zero-calorie options fail, I’ll pop a small piece of hard candy. I buy Yummy Earth organic hard candy from Whole Foods. They satisfy my oral fixation and keep me from wondering into the kitchen searching for something more dangerous.

The pomegranate ones are my favorite!

  • Does your tea need a little somethin’ somethin’? Is sugarless oatmeal too bland? Try Stevia! It’s a zero-calorie sweetener extracted from the Stevia plant. The carbohydrate in Stevia cannot be digested by humans, therefor it passes through the body with no effect on insulin. All you need is a teeny tiny dusting to give you a powerful dose of sweetness. I add a little dusting to my iced tea and to my morning bowl of oats.

Fighting my sugar addiction is a constant battle and sometimes a girl just needs a treat 🙂 But when I do indulge, I try to make my indulgence as healthy as possible.

Banana Pops

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 nanner halves
  • 1 T peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chip (I use dark chocolate vegan chips)
  • toppings: crushed nuts, shredded unsweetened coconut, granola (get creative!)

How To:

  • Prep: Peel 1-2 bananas and slice in half short-ways (as in, not long-ways), put toppings on plates or in bowls with a flat bottom, prepare squares of parchment paper or wax paper to wrap bananas.

Coconut and crushed walnuts:

  • melt chips and nut butter in the microwave for 45 sec., stir, then heat in 20 sec. intervals until it’s smooth and melted.

  • Take the nanners for a dip in the choco-peanut butter pool! (seriously, I can’t think of anything better than melted chocolate peanut butter goodness. Try to refrain from eating it with a spoon)

  • After you roll the nanner around in the melty goodness (use a couple spoons to roll it around), drop the banana into the topping bowls and use the same roll-around technique to coat it. Then, plop them on their parchment paper squares and wrap them up.

  • Stick ’em in the freezer for about 30 min. (if you can wait that long) until the outer coating hardens, then enjoy!

Grilled Bananas

Ingredients:

  • Nanners
  • chocolate chips
  • aluminum foil
  • grill pan or grill
  • ice cream or frozen yogurt

How To:

  • Make a slice in the bananas (peels on) long-ways to make a little nook
  • Stuff with chocolate chips
  • Wrap tightly in foil and place on grill/grill pan over medium heat

  • Grill for about 10 min., flipping halfway through, until the foil is nice and hot
  • Unwrap, unpeel, and serve over ice cream/frozen ‘gurt

Trail Mix Popcorn

Air-popped popcorn is such a great snack. It’s chock full of fiber and you can devour 3 cups for under 100 calories (sans butter and toppings) I buy organic popcorn kernels from the bulk section (super cheap!) and brown paper lunch sacks (preferably made from recycled materials) and make my own microwave popcorn!

  • Pour 3 T popcorn kernels into a brown paper lunch sack
  • Fold over the opening a few times and crease it really well

  • Microwave for 2-3 min. or until popping begins to slow (mine takes 2:40) Careful, it’ll burn!
  • Dump hot popcorn into a bowl and add 1 T each of chocolate chips, almonds, and dried fruit. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Dig in!

Frozen ‘Gurt

When I get a hankering for something cold and creamy, I usually turn to non-fat frozen yogurt. It is so delicious and satisfying and I enjoy every bite knowing I made a smart choice. Sometimes we stay in for frozen yogurt (Stonyfield Farms non-fat vanilla) and sometimes we got out…

My mix: tart, peanut butter, and blackberry. Mmmmm… tasted like a PB&J


JWD’s mix: tart with berries and peanut butter with hot fudge and cookie dough chunks

Chill is heaven a new frozen yogurt place in St. Louis. They have an ever-changing selection of self-serve ‘gurts and a self-serve toppings bar that has anything your little heart could possibly desire from fresh berries to crushed Butterfingers. My favorite flavor is Tart. It’s just plain non-fat frozen yogurt and only costs me about 110 cals for 1/2 cup. At $.40 an ounce, this is definitely one of my favorite treats.

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

Smoothies always taste like dessert to me and I have one everyday! The combinations are endless, but here’s my favorite mix when I’m craving a treat.

  • 1/2 banana
  • 3/4 cup frozen cherries (or any frozen berries)
  • 2 scoops of yogurt
  • 1 scoop of protein powder (optional)
  • 2 T cocoa powder
  • 1 cup of baby spinach (yep, you read that right. I put gobs of spinach in my smoothies. You won’t taste it, I pinky promise!)

  • Blend and enjoy 🙂


Smoothie Pops

When you whip up your smoothies, make a little extra and pour it into popsicle molds and freeze. Your kiddies (or you) will be eating spinach popsicles and loving every minute of it 🙂

Bottom Line:

  • Simple sugars like high-fructose corn syrup, table sugar, and other added sugars are bad news! Try to stay away from them- they cause weight gain, metabolism malfunction, and premature aging. Check ingredient labels of EVERYTHING for added sugars. A good rule of thumb- if the ingredient ends in -ose, it’s probably an added sugar (maltose, dextrose, sucrose, fructose, etc.)
  • Be careful with “natural” sweeteners. Honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, etc. should all be used in moderation because if you don’t burn the quick energy they supply, they will be stored as fat.
  • Stay away from artificial sweeteners. They’ll make you crave the real thing and nothing good can come of putting chemicals made in a lab into your body. I can just hear my body saying, “Splenda? What the hell am I supposed to do with this?”
  • The best way to kick your sugar habit is to exercise a little (or a lot of) willpower and avoid it as much as possible. Children that have never tasted added sugars are completely satisfied with a bowl of sweet fruit for dessert! Once you cut back on your sugar intake, your taste buds will adjust and sugary cereals and desserts will almost nauseate you with their sweetness.
  • It’s okay to indulge in a sweet treat now and then, but try to keep it semi-healthy and use portion control! I don’t want to take the joy out of eating, food should be delicious and fun! I just want to encourage you to indulge wisely.
  • Remember, it’s not just your sweeteners you need to choose wisely. All carbs are broken down into sugars in your body, so choose whole grains over processed white grains- whole grain pasta instead of white pasta, brown rice instead of white rice, and whole grain breads instead of white bread.

What tricks do you use to curb/satisfy sugar cravings? Anyone have any easy healthy dessert recipes? If you try any of these sweeet treats, I’d love to hear about it!

I promised to do a post about what I eat in a day, so my next series of posts are each going to highlight a meal- what I eat, how much I eat, products I use, and maybe a few recipes and workouts mixed in too. It’ll probably amount to about 5-6 posts because I eat 5-6 meals everyday! How does that sound??

Enjoy the rest of your week bloggy friends and as always, thanks for reading 🙂

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12 Responses to “White Poison”

  1. Debbie C. June 24, 2010 at 1:31 am #

    Love the “White Poison” blog !! Can’t wait to try the yummy recipies!! I have been getting smoothie advice from your Dad but can’t wait to try your’s!!

  2. allieatfood June 24, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    I literally said “oh my gosh” outloud when I saw those bananas!! They look SO good. I actually might make that tonight!

    • kp June 24, 2010 at 11:30 am #

      If you think they look good, wait til you taste them! Thanks for stopping by the blog and let me know how they turn out 🙂

  3. Cara June 24, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

    I laughed out loud when I read that about the strawberries! I was cutting some up yesterday and thought the same thing, “remember when I would coat these deliciously sweet berries with the devils powder?” haha. Really good blog and I can’t wait to try all the recipes. I will definitely try some spinach in my next smoothie and another trip to Chill please! Keep up the good work!

  4. Dad June 24, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    The grilled bananas taste as good as they look! Everyone should try them.
    Thanks for the GREAT meal on Sunday.

  5. Emily June 26, 2010 at 4:38 pm #

    I’ve never tried Yummy Earth candy, but it looks pretty good, even if it is still candy. 🙂

    I like banana soft serve, which is basically frozen bananas blended in the food processor. Sweet and delish without added sugars.

  6. Abbey Roglis January 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    Great blog on sugars. Also, I love the idea of putting spinach in smoothies I never thought of that, but it’s a great way to get some extra nutrients we all could use Can’s wait to give it a try.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. I’m Baaaack….. And It’s Snack Time « Running on Sunshine - August 1, 2010

    […] This is a tricky one. Most bars are very high in sugar, and if they aren’t then they are probably full of poison artificial sweetener. This is where you need to look at both the sugar content and the ingredient list. Bars made with whole foods contain sugar from dried fruits like dates and raisins. Some bars will have added sugar, so look for these words: agave, honey, evaporated cane juice, sucrose, dextrose, etc. (rule of thumb: if it ends in -ose, it’s probably an added sugar). This is a hard number to keep low without venturing in to artificial sweetener territory, so I try to stay under 15 grams ( frame of reference: a Snicker’s bar has 29 grams). For more info on sugar check out this post: White Poison […]

  2. First Post of 2011: Crafting and Detoxing « Running on Sunshine - January 5, 2011

    […] discussed in this post, added sugars distress the body. And after weeks of pumpkin pies, candy canes, Christmas cookies, […]

  3. The ABCs of Me « Running on Sunshine - July 1, 2012

    […] Y. Yummy food you make: I would like to think most of it is pretty tasty! Some current favorites: Sunshine Smoothie, homemade peanut sauce, homemade black bean burgers, and banana pops. […]

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