Today I wanted to talk to you about something that I’ve noticed a couple of times recently, something that I think is a symptom of a bigger problem.
Not long ago, a couple of friends and I were chatting about food (as you do), specifically about some yummy raw cakes we’d tried at local cafes. During the conversation someone made a comment about which ones were “healthier” based on the type of sugar they contained. This reminded me of another incident late last year, when I was at an expo and a visitor was considering the purchase of a block of organic chocolate made from 3 ingredients: raw cacao, coconut palm nectar and cacao butter. Her question for me: “What does Sarah Wilson think of coconut palm nectar?”
…It just feels like we are having the wrong conversation when it comes to food! That we are asking all the wrong questions. Instead of getting caught up in the confusion of who says what sugars are the best for us, shouldn’t we rather be looking at the bigger picture?
Don’t get me wrong, Sarah Wilson’s message is important – we absolutely need to be thinking about the sugar in our diets. Sugar is without a doubt the most insidious addition to our modern food supply and is responsible for significant health burdens in the developed world.
But getting caught up in exactly which type of sugar is best for us is really missing the point.
The biggest problem we have is what I mentioned earlier – that insidious nature of the sugar in our commercial food supply, which has basically taught us to expect our food (all of it) to be sweet. Any packaged soups, sauces, pre-made meals (fresh or frozen), take-away foods, and many restaurant dishes are sweetened – because when it comes to our taste-buds, sugar sells. If your kids love McDonalds burgers, and you try to tempt them with your own home-made version – I can guarantee you the majority of kids will (initially at least) turn up their noses, because you haven’t put enough sugar in the bread, in the sauce, in the mayonnaise.
So here’s the thing – when my news feed is filled with recipes for “healthy” sweet foods, cakes and desserts, when everyone is swooning over the raw dessert photos on Instagram and eager to visit the next “healthy raw treats” café – I have to wonder, what about the rest of our diet? What about the meals that make up the bulk of our food intake? Are we getting so obsessed with the next “healthy” “guilt-free” dessert recipe that we are losing sight of what’s really important? Do we think that by keeping our treats “healthy” we can ignore the rest of our food?
Here’s something to try: the next time you’re tempted to search for a super-awesome grain-free dairy-free sugar-free raw chocolate “cheese”cake recipe, instead try hunting down a warming slow-cooker recipe that you can add to your repertoire to nourish yourself and your family on a cold winters night. Or find a new breakfast recipe that is quick, nourishing and sustaining for those busy weekday mornings. Or a new school lunch idea that your kids will love. Meals you can make yourself that didn’t require any added sugar, that provided real nutrient-dense value. That make you more confident that you can feed yourself and your loved ones with natural, whole foods rather than relying on processed & packaged substitutes. If you have to, unfollow those instagram accounts with all the tasty-looking sweet stuff and find some accounts that have beautiful-looking meals to inspire you.
If we can get to the point where we are comfortable that we are minimising the level of sugar in our daily diets – in the meals that make up the bulk of our food – then the occasional sweet treat is really not an issue, regardless of what sort of sugar is in it. If our bodies are well-nourished and functioning optimally, they can process a bit of sugar without too much fuss.
(And if we know we are eating way to much in the sweets department, then again – our best option is to look for ways to reduce this, rather than swapping out one sugar for another. More on this in a future post!)
I think its time to shift the focus to what we’re eating, day in, day out.
What meal is your biggest sugar trap? (Did you know that for many people it is breakfast?)
Do you know how much sugar is in your everyday foods?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
PS .. if you’re still wondering what Sarah Wilson would have said to the woman in my story… well, I like to think she would have said “if you want the chocolate, eat the friggin chocolate. Just don’t eat the whole box!” 🙂 but if you’re really interested, you can have a look here.
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