Ginger Orange Guide to Ditching Sugar
Calorie packed, insulin spiking, waist expanding, collagen attacking and wrinkle giving, but it just… Tastes. So. Good.
Sugar stimulates the same pleasure centres in the brain as many hard-core drugs and going cold sugar-turkey can lead to withdrawal symptoms like headaches, mood swings, cravings and even the shakes. No wonder the white stuff is so hard to ditch.
Food manufacturers might be capitalising on our addiction to sugar, they might insidiously add it to processed foods, even ones claiming to be healthy, especially ones branded as ‘low-fat’… but they aren’t the source of the addiction. When hunting was scarce for our prehistoric ancestors, sugar was a matter of survival, so, biologically humans have evolved to love sugar. We just haven’t evolved to be able to deal with the consequences of eating the current British average: around 30kg per year. What was an evolutionary necessity is now, slowly, making us fat, sick and wrinkly.
There are many sugar alternatives on the market, but are they really any better for us than the real thing?
Derived from plant sap and used in South America for over 1500 years, this super-sweet syrup is lower GI than sugar and so has less of an affect on insulin levels. It might pack 20 calories per teaspoon (5 more than sugar) but it is also sweeter, so you need to add less. On the down side, some research suggests that the super high fructose levels it contains (around 90%) can potentially disrupt liver function and encourage the body to lay down visceral (belly) fat.
Made from the leaf of the stevia plant, this zero cal sweetener won’t raise your blood sugar levels… It is, however, often sold mixed with other sweeteners that will. It is also highly processed and may cause gut irritation and bloating.
Lower GI than the white stuff, coconut sugar also contains trace vitamins and minerals like mood boosting B vitamin inositol. However, like agave, this sugar alternative also contains relatively high levels of fructose.
With minerals like zinc and manganese, this naturally sourced syrup is already kicking nutrient devoid sugar’s ass. It is lower GI than sugar (although not by much), less processed, contains anti-oxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. It also tastes like malted caramel amazingness…
Zero cal and raise blood sugar levels but some research has suggested possible links to weight gain and cancer. Chemicals in your tea? Nah, we’re ok thanks.
For Ginger Orange, all these alternatives (excluding artificial sweeteners) trump white, refined sugar in the health-stakes. However, by keeping them in our diet in anything more than tiny amounts (despite that malted caramel amazingness…), we’re developing our taste buds to expect sweetness in our food – meaning we’re not really beating that sugar addiction.
To free yourself from sugar, you have to, slowly (because no one wants to be found in a corner shaking and screaming for a Wham bar) reduce it from your diet. Cut out the processed food, try sugar alternatives and then, little by little, reduce those down too – less agave on your porridge, coconut sugar in your coffee and maple on your protein pancakes. At Ginger Orange we’re slowly trying to stop torturing our bodies with the sweet stuff and keep it as an occasional treat… although we do still fall off the wagon occasionally (into a bucked of maple syrup).
Written by Martha