Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sugar in Moderation?

If you are able to eat sugar in moderation, I would love to hear how you do it.

Most of the people that I have talked with tell me that moderating sugar consumption is nearly impossible. It's more practical to give it up completely than to try and ingest it in small doses. For many reasons. One of which is that it's in everything. Just because the ingredients on the packaged food product may not say, "sugar" does not mean that sugar is not in there. Products that tout themselves as health food, and yet use a sneaky word actually meaning sugar, are just deceiving their customers. Write to companies that are using this marketing tactic. Email them, call them, send them mail. Tell them you don't appreciate their tricky marketing. Ask them to use natural sweeteners. Here are a few examples of tricky gimmick words used to perpetuate the idea that sugar is not in the ingredients, when indeed it is.

List of ingredients meaning sugar: "Saccharose, Sucanat, Sugar, Granulated Sugar, Refined Sugar, Brown Sugar, Cane Juice, Evaporated Cane Juice, Evaporated Cane Sugar, Cane Sugar, Raw Cane Sugar, Demerera, Muscovado, Turbinado, Cane syrup, Beet syrup, Baker's Sugar, Bar Sugar, Barbados Sugar, Berry Sugar, Chinese Rock Sugar , Confectioners Sugar, Gemsugar, Polincillo, Rock sugar, Wasanbon" to name a few.
(This list was compiled by Methuselah on the great, "Pay Now Live Later" blog.)

Take charge of how much sugar to eat, if at all. I understand that for some of us, cutting down on something is easier than cutting it out completely. Some of you "avoid" as best you can, but don't get down on yourself when you have some. I guess I am an example of someone who takes things to extremes--with sugar for sure. Either give me two pints of ice cream, brownies and hot fudge or give me an apple. If I'm going to be bad, I make it count. If I'm going to be good, I make it holy. This extremism isn't exactly a healthy, balanced take on eating, I realize. Honestly, though, for those of you who balance your sugar consumption, how do you do it?


E said...

I don't have the discipline to read the labels on everything (or learn all the sneaky names for sugar!) but I do try to moderate sweets (anything from which I derive sugary delight). I'm currently in a state of non-success, but when I *have* had success in the past, it's been because I clearly define what constitutes a "sweet" before I start eating. So before I open the box of cookies, I tell myself "okay, three cookies is my sweet today .. am I sure this is the sweet I want?" Then I take three cookies, put away the box, and walk away before I eat them. Or I'll let my sweet be a desert I order when I'm out (a finite quantity .. I can't keep going back for seconds!).

That said. It's MUCH easier to just do no sweets period. Or at the very least, wait until late in the day. Once I have the taste of sugar in my mouth, it's a lot harder to resist the next sweet temptation.

J said...

Congratulations on your victory over sugar!

I have been without sugar, honey, syrups, agave and 99.9% of artificial sweetners for about 2 years. I have chosen to avoid sweet things so that I don't excite what I call the sugar or sweet receptors in my taste buds. Once those get activated, its a all down hill.

I use Stevia in my coffee at home; and 1 splenda in the 1 coffee at work. That and sugarfree gum is about it.

The social sweet scene - indeed it can be stark when you are a not joining in. But, I have to say that I do not crave sweets anymore. I can walk by the chocolate stand and ignore it; the bakery case no longer mesmerizes me.

Keep up the great work - your blog is interesting and I appreciate the links to other sugar-free sites!

My Year Without said...

Clearly defining the "rules" for yourself before you begin eating a sugary goodie is a fabulous idea. I like that you give yourself the okay, and your moderation is a number.
I'm sorry that you are not successful at the moment, but it sounds like you know exactly how to get back on track. Do you think you'll go for it, or are you enjoying eating sweets freely?

Wow...I'm not sure what to sweets of any kind for 2 years! I would love to know more details.
I think Stevia is perfect for a few things but I have not had success in baking with it-have you? I agree that it's perfect in a hot drink. Splenda scares me but I guess we don't know that much about it yet.

Congratulations for getting over the cravings for sweets! What a victory yourself!

If I may ask, what led you to give up not only sugar, but natural sweeteners to begin with? I'm curious because most people don't even think twice about the sweets they eat...

Rebecca said...

Hi! Thanks for stopping by the blog and for the comments on my review! I responded to you there so I won't go into the same thing here, but I don't think you can cut out sugar entirely. It is in everything. What you certainly can do, however, is not add more sugar to your diet. You can choose not to ingest in high-GI foods and you can resolve not to add sugar to non-sugared cereal (a habit of which I have never understood, I must say) and you can choose not to drink sugary drinks and so on.

The Sugar Solution definitely has great tips on how to read the labels on foods to make the better out of the choices you have available.

E said...

I think I'm mostly back on track. The holidays threw me off and then it took a couple weeks to get focused again! I bought a box of clementines, so now I try to reach for a clementine instead of a handful of chocolate chips ... although the other day, I had a clementine AND a handful of chocolate chips at the same time... It's a work in progress, but I think I can get there! My next challenge will be limiting breads. I try to aim for whole wheat, but I still eat entirely too much bread!

My Year Without said...

Great idea to use the clementines as your sweet! I think a handful of chocolate chips once in a while is okay...but if it's every day or on some kind of pattern.....! Have you considered fat free chocolate milk or chocolate almond milk or chocolate rice milk? Unsweetened for me, of course, but still delicious and a treat because it's chocolate!

For me, the trick with bread is to eat the healthiest possible version because then I eat less of it. I can go through an entire loaf of wonder bread, but I can only eat one or two pieces of heavy, spelt bread.

Also, I've really been enjoying sprouted wheat bread. I want to learn how to make it myself. It is really light, but filling and feels healthy. Both spelt and sprouted wheat breads are gluten free so you don't get that sugar/glucose rush like you do with wheat breads.

I like "Nature's Bake" but there are others out there. Also, you can get really heavy, dense, moist, whole wheat or whole rye bread that is imported from Europe. It is super delicious toasted and VERY hearty. I put a light layer of butter or a layer of almond butter and that fills me for breakfast. Try spreading peanut or almond butter on your bread to slow you works like a charm for me!

I have found it at Safeway (usually NOT with the other is in a weird place in the store) OR, you can find it at World Market.

It is possible to cut out all white refined sugar AND corn syrups, because I've done it and am still doing it! I think part of the reason it has been easier for me than for others is because I live in an area where there are health food stores EVERYWHERE!! If you live somewhere where you don't have many grocery options, this can be next to impossible...but I believe that it can still be done. It just requires more commitment to being in your kitchen and baking/cooking/preparing your own foods. It's tough, and I realize that TOTALLY cutting out sugar IS NOT for everyone, but be encouraged that it can be done!

I hear from many that cutting down on sugar is the goal and is more attainable than cutting it out completely. I think this is awesome, as well!

Robert said...

Im the same.. all or nothing personality. I gave up sugar for New Years 1995. It was great for 5 mo's.. then I celebrated my b-day on June 1st and ate cake. I wish I never have. I gave it up again in 2006, it was great for losing the last of my baby weight. I am inspired by your blog again today. Amy

My Year Without said...


I wonder, what did it feel like right before you ate birthday cake in 1995? Had you been planning on doing it or was it eaten in a fit of passion?

Then, how did you feel immediately afterward? How did you feel later? I question this because it seems like we all struggle with indulging in "instant gratification" but the payout for doing so is terrible!

My mantra in high school when I was trying to not eat so many cookies was "A moment on the lips is a lifetime on the hips."

Well, congrats on losing that baby weight. That must feel wonderful!
Are you still off of sugar?

Bec said...

I know this is an older post but I recently started reading your blog and have been very encouraged by it. For the first 6 weeks of the year, I went off all added sugars and white flour and I felt incredible. I got a little lazy, slacked off but just decided to go back to it.

Sugar in moderation . . . I love to bake and cook for other people and one way to moderate is to only use "good" (good quality, that is) sugar and to use it in wholesome, homemade recipes - not consume it from something processed or store bought - and only for special occasions (a homemade ice cream or cake for a birthday).

It was eye-opening how much sugar was in everything we eat and you have great examples. The only way I could stick to it was to prepare practically all my own food and restock my pantry and kitchen. If nothing with sugar or white flour comes into my home, then, I don't have to worry about eating it.

Last comment - I have a 20 month old daughter and it is horrifying how much sugar any kind of "kid's" food contains. Even the organic, Whole Foods, type kid's snacks and food.

jenn said...

I am much better off having no sugar. I was suga and sweet free last Oct til june 2009 and a little sugar/sweet was a slippery slope! Am just moving back into suga free AGAIN now and think i may be one of those who does better with no sweets at all. Glad I happened on to these suga free places it helps to have company on the journey, suggestions for sustaining my way down this path. Thank you.

Iris said...

I'm with you...I do eat sugar, but the more I eat, the more I want to eat, so I try to keep it to a minimum. And more and more, I'm thinking switching to natural sweeteners might be a better choice for me.

My Year Without said...

Bec, Jenn, Iris- It's so interesting how we strive for moderation but when it comes to certain things like sugar it's next to impossible! I would seriously LOVE to hear from someone who feels like they are addicted to sugar but are able to eat it in moderation. How can it be done?!

Wanderlusting said...

I eat sugar in moderation.

I normally am also an "all or nothing" person (ie, I give up all booze for a month instead of cutting back) but because sugar is everywhere, I don't beat myself up over it.

I just make the smart choices when I can (brown rice over white, stevia instead of sugar) but don't sweat it when I occasionally have beer or candy or whatever.

It honestly just comes down to willpower for me.

You can have cake and then let it spiral out of control or... you can not let it?

It's harder than it sounds but in the end, you control the hand that picks up the food and puts it in your mouth. It might feel like torture to not let yourself indulge especially when your cravings have kicked in, but you just find ways to deal with the cravings. I know I'm in control and it's just a mental battle in my head. My body certainly doesn't need the sugar.

And also, giving in occasionally isn't such a bad thing either. But I don't make it a habit.

Wanderlusting said...

Also, I don't think I'm addicted to sugar so that might help! I've always been the type to reach for a piece of cheese or something salty before I go for sweets....

Audrey said...

My whole family eats sugar in moderation. What I mean is that my mum usually has jam with her bread in the morning, and my dad uses nutella or peanut butter. These spreads all contain sugar. My brothers have breakfast cereals. But they eat chicken, fish, rice, veggies, egg for lunch and dinner, and seldom have other snacks. At most, they would have a cookie, or 2 chocolate squares (because we buy a whole block and break them).

I would say so many people are having sugar in moderation.

My Year Without said...

Wanderlusting-I've talked with a lot of people who have shared similar advice/experiences with having control when eating sweets, but like you, they end up sharing also that they have more of a salt aptitude than sugar! You are right, however, that it's in each of our control to make the decision in the moment.

Audrey-It's wonderful to hear about your family who have their sugar intake under control. Thanks for sharing!