The sweet taste
I’m not going to tell you not to eat sugar, because the taste “sweet” is one of the most important tastes we have !
Did you know that mothers’ milk is sweet? I didn’t know that until my sister had my nephew Yullan. In 1 cup of mother’s milk there’s 17g of sugar. So we’ve been conditioned to love “sweet” as a taste since we were infants. And we naturally associate “sweet” to feelings of comfort, safety and love.
Furthermore, our brain needs glucose to maintain healthy function, around 100-150 g daily.
However, the quantity and quality of the sugar we intake matters.
We consume more sugar than we think because of hidden sugar in processed foods
Sugar is everywhere, especially in processed foods. In the list below, some items will surprise you!
- Baby formulas and teething biscuits
- Salad dressings
- Luncheon meats, bacon and sausages
- Fruit drinks and canned fruit
- Crackers and breads
- Peanut butter
- Soy, rice, almond and other dairy substitutes
- Protein bars
- Smoked salmon
- Hamburgers and chicken nuggets
- Seaweed salad, sushi rice and soy sauce
- Every fat-free food
- Canned soups
- Vitamins and minerals supplements
- Aspirin and other over-the-counter drugs
Also, we ingest more artificial sugars
Artificial sweeteners have appeared on the scene since the early 1900s. This fun and eye-opening blog tells the history of artificial sweeteners.
Interestingly enough most of these artificial sweeteners were found haphazardly while working on other research.
Saccharin used in Sugar Twin and Sweet’N Low was discovered while looking for new uses on coal derivatives.
Aspartame found in NutraSweet and Equal was discovered while working on an ulcer drug.
Splenda was created when scientists found a way to molecularly bond sucrose molecules with chlorine.
Should you be concerned about these kinds of sweeteners?
If you try to look for the possible health concerns of these artificial sweeteners on the National Cancer Institute and other official websites, you’ll find nothing. They’ll tell you that artificial sweeteners are safe.
I don’t know about you, but I’d be a little suspicious about using chemicals found while testing coal, drugs and chlorine! And god knows what else is in there!
On top of that, though these artificial sweeteners have virtually no calories, they are hundred times sweeter than sugar, opening the door in my humble opinion to addiction.
Saccharin is 300 times sweeter, Aspartame is 200 times sweeter and Splenda is 600 times sweeter!
Do artificial sweeteners help you lose weight?
In the long term, artificial sweeteners could actually make you fat, even though they proclaim to help you with weight control.
They confuse the body which is programmed to associate sweet tastes with calories consumed. “When we repeatedly eat something sweet that provides little or no calories,” researchers at Perdue University say, “we break that connection and our confused bodies keep seeking more food, while our metabolism to break down those foods decreases.”
High Fructose Corn Syrup
It’s everywhere! It’s in all the foods in the list of hidden sugars as well as soda, candy, granola bars, breakfast cereals, store-bought cookies, bagels, donuts and cakes, chips, energy and sports drinks, ice cream and jams.
A derivative of cornstarch, HFCS, was introduced in the American diet in the 1970’s. HFCS is made by taking cornstarch through a series of complicated chemical processes to have it in its liquid form.
It poses a problem at several levels. First, it’s chemically processed and I’m skeptical when I’m being told that the use of chemicals does not affect my health and the proper functioning of my body. Second, though there are no conclusive research on the correlation of HFCS in processed foods and obesity, it doesn’t take a genius to draw a parallel between the increased consumption of chemically-laden conventional and processed foods and the rise of overweight and obesity in this country and pretty much anywhere in the world where these kinds of foods have appeared. Obesity maps between 1985 and 2000. (open as a powerpoint)
There’s sugar and then there’s sugar
Before I trained as a plant-based pastry maker, I used to think that sugar is sugar.
I changed my mind. Though there’s no “holy grail of sweeteners”, some sugars ARE better than others in terms of taste and how they affect digestion and sweet cravings.
The less refined the sugar, the tastier it is, the easier we can digest it and the lesser the cravings!
When it comes to cane sugar, I ALWAYS use certified organic and non-white.
To insure its stark white color, sugar processed from sugar cane is filtered through bone char to remove its residual color. Also cane fields are usually heavily sprayed with chemicals during the growth process- a sad fact that destroyed nearly 90% of arable land on the island of Martinique and polluted its postcard beaches (the rain took the chemicals to the shores).
4 types of sweeteners and what I choose in each category
1- Granulated sugar
I use Jaggery that I buy in Indian stores, Rapadura, Sucanat or Coconut Palm sugar. These are the least processed sugars. Depending on the dessert I make, I’ll also use organic whole cane sugar which I’ll grind to make powdered or confectioner’s sugar.
My favorite is maple syrup. And in some recipes I also love brown rice syrup.
If you’re replacing granulated sugar with liquid sweetener in baking, you want to make sure that you are adding more syrup and less liquid in the recipe. So for example, if the recipe calls for 16 ounces of granulated sugar, you replace it with 20 ounces of syrup and decrease the liquid by 4 ounces.
NEVER, ever bake with or cook honey!
“According to the National Center for Biotechnology (NCBI), heating honey is contraindicated as it causes adverse effects. Cooking it deteriorates the quality and loses its essential enzymes and nutrients. Heated honey can actually produce delirious effects in the body and can be fatal at the same time.”
In Ayurveda we say that when honey is cooked it becomes like glue that gets stuck on the mucous membranes of the digestive tract, producing toxins or Ama. An excess of Ama causes congestion, weight gain, digestive issues, skin issues, respiratory diseases and even blood sugar issues.
3- Juice concentrates
Pineapple juice concentrate is one of my favorites
4- Dried fruits and fruit pastes
I regularly use date or mango paste in my recipes as well as mashed bananas. Check out my no-added sugar Chocolate Brownie Cookies recipe!
You can have your cake and eat it too!
As you use less processed sugars, you’ll refine your taste buds and reduce your cravings. Also consider adding spices like cinnamon and cardamom that have a sweet taste.
And when it comes to sweet cravings, you may want to reflect on what you’re trying to satisfy with sweets and consider having activities that fulfill you, make you feel light and joyful!