Here at Lithe, we don’t believe in demonizing foods, as we're all about eating all foods sensibly. We prefer to swap highly processed and refined foods with their whole food counterparts whevever possible. For some of you, the Lithe Inside Challenge may mean cutting out all refined sugar, carbs, and processed foods from your diet during the work week and relaxing on the weekends. Others may want to take it a step further and reduce their consumption of sugar from ALL areas. It's totally up to you...
If you know me well, you know that I'm a true chocohololic. There aren't too many days that I haven't had a square of dark chocolate. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a sweet treat every now and again (I'm certainly guilty). But many of us with a sweet tooth often overdo it, and rely on sugary food to kill a craving, boost our energy, or even to improve our mood. We indulge, then soon those cravings return, accompanied by lethargy, moodiness, and to top it off, you're back to where you started – wanting more sugar.
Now, don’t get me wrong, not all sugars are ‘bad’, in fact, sugar is critical for adequate metabolic function, to prevent stress on the body, and to avoid the depletion of critical cellular components. But as you are probably aware, sugar comes in a wide variety of foods – from natural plant based foods such as fruits, grains and starchy vegetables, to animal foods such as cheese and milk, as well as processed and refined foods such as crackers, chips, cake, and chocolate. It is the processed and refined sources that we should be avoiding. You know, the stuff that we've been indulging in for the past few weeks!
So, why should we avoid refined sugar? Any sugar that is unrecognizable from its natural form should be avoided. Conventional sugar is generally processed through extreme heat treatments, chemical purification, and bleaching. Even brown sugar should be avoided, as it is generally white, refined sugar that has either had molasses added back into it to make it brown (or it's artificially colored). The end product of this sugar is therefore nutrient-empty, calorie dense and chemical laden.
Refined sugars are easily digested and absorbed straight into our blood stream, causing elevated blood glucose levels. High blood glucose levels put a massive strain on our organs and body’s systems, causing wear and tear, aging, and decreasing its functional ability. Excess sugar consumption has also been associated with tooth decay, contributing to weight gain, compromising immunity, and many other consequences.
The amount of sugar in our food is downright shocking. If your food is packaged, it probably contains added sugar. This includes ready-made sauce and salad dressing, bread, breakfast cereal, potato chips ... And the list goes on. When you sit back and think about what you eat on a typical day, you may be surprised at how much sugar you are actually consuming. You can see how easy it is to consume a ton of sugar and just how quickly it adds up.
Want to learn more? Stay tuned on how you can eliminate refined sugar and what you can do with it (on Monday) in lieu of throwing it away!
Image via Lauren