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Good-bye Sugar

by Dianne Kochenburg

This morning Iím thinking about sugar again. I no longer buy sugar. Two pound bags, pink wrapper, open them up, pour into the sugar canister sitting on the counter. Nope. Donít do that. No sugar on the counter, no sugar bowl.

I donít make jam any more. The jam recipe calls for a cup of sugar for every cup of berries. If you make freezer jam itís two cups of sugar for every cup of berries. Thatís a huge amount of sugar. I love jam. Once in a while I might spread the tiniest amount on a piece of toast. Marmalade is my favorite. Jam and I are no longer pals.

At Jeffieís birthday party last week I had a sliver of chocolate cake. Maybe the best cake ever, from Lucky's. A random cake. So delicious. What a treat. I wonít do that again soon.

I donít bake much these days. Because most everything that is baked needs sugar. Brownies, cakes, cookies, pies. Baked ham with sugar glaze. Nope. Teriyaki sauce is sugar. I used to bake a chicken with a little teriyaki glazed over the top. Yummy, but roasted chicken is delicious without added sugar.

I stopped eating so much sugar because somebody told me that sugar is an inflammatory food. I was taking anti inflammatory meds at the time, and sitting in front of a plate full of dessert. That was a revelation to me. It just made sense to cut out some of the sugar. Duh.

Sugar lurks everywhere. In processed food, in bread, cereal, salad dressing, canned food like spaghetti sauce! So for breakfast, lunch and dinner we are eating sugar, even if we skip dessert. You want to talk about conspiracies, look no further than the sugar industry. Nobody talks about Big Sugar. But we should.

People write books about not eating sugar for a month, like it was some sort of miracle. So unheard of, so difficult. Like climbing Mt Everest. Really? And then they take up where they left off after the month is up. Back to their regularly scheduled eating -- more sugar.

After the first week or so, it gets much easier to live without so much sugar. You donít have to eliminate all sugar to feel better. And itís not that hard to wise up about sugar. 25 grams is the recommended daily allowance. That's a cookie. Gulp! Purging the kitchen of sugar is fun. Makes you feel sort of brave. Go through the pantry. It's lurking everywhere. First, the white sugar, then powdered, and brown. The easy ones. Next find the mixes, like brownies and that cake mix you were going to make. Then the syrups, dressings, ketchup! Pancake mix, scone mix, pudding mix. All of it. Out of the pantry. See how much room there is on the shelves. Woo hoo.

If you are really in a mood while browsing in your pantry, check the canned goods too. So many cans have a few grams of sugar hidden in them. Plus, they have probably passed their "use by" dates. Toss them too. Decide whether it's really worth it to eat all those hidden sugars in that old can of chili from 2011.

Once you have gone through the food pantry clean up, you will instantly become a better shopper. The realization that sugar is lurking everywhere is such an eye opener. Reading the labels in the grocery store is eye opening. Sugar is often the first ingredient mentioned. Boing! There is it. Avoiding the center aisles in the store is rewarding. Once you know where the sugar is lurking, avoid that aisle completely. Even potato chips, the flavored ones usually have added sugar. Stick to corn chips. No sugar. Gaze down the cereal aisle. That's mainly the sugar aisle. So called "kid cereal" is the worst offender. But "adult cereal" is guilty too. Then there are all those snack bars and power bars. Mainly they are loaded with sugar too. For energy. Uh-huh.

Then comes the candy, cookie, juice and soda aisle. Don't go there. You need nothing from that aisle. Water is becoming even more popular as folks are beginning to catch on to the sugar bombs in all those juice drinks and sodas.

Sweeteners is another whole area that needs more research. So-called diet drinks and products made from artificial sweeteners don't taste as good as the real deal but are touted to be better for us, health wise. That assertion remains to be investigated further. Some say yes, it's true that artificial sweeteners are the way to go. Other researchers say our bodies might treat artificial sweeteners the same way as sugar. Such bad news. It's hard to know exactly what the facts are these days.

That brings me to pet food. Somebody told me that pet food contains sugar too. Those cat treats have added sugar so that cats get addicted and want more and more treats. That's why they are so tempting. Honestly! Big sugar!

I eat a lot of fruit. Yes, fruit has sugar, but it isn't added sugar, it's natural sugar. Our bodies process it differently. We donít get that sugar spike like we do when eating a chocolate chip cookie, or three. Eating an apple is not addictive. When you eat an apple, you feel good, but you donít need to eat another one 10 minutes later. I love apples and tangerines, cherries, melons, pineapple, blue berries, bananas. I always have but now I eat them regularly, instead of pies, cakes, cookies, sodas, candy, fudge, ice cream, or French pastries. Iíve heard people say they donít eat bananas because of the calories. Really? Bananas are good for you. Check them out on google. Better to have a banana than a sugary coffee drink at Starbucks. Just have a coffee at Starbucks, add some milk, Stevia. Pretend itís a latte. Ta da.

Researchers say that as we grow older we tend to get inflammation in our bones, due to arthritis. Swollen feet and joints are painful and debilitating. Walking is hard, getting out of chairs, standing for long periods, all of it due to worn out joints, arthritis and its companion: inflammation. Eating less sugar will help relieve some of the inflammation,  arthritis pain, as well as diabetes symptoms and high cholesterol. Also, eating less sugar helps us to lose a little weight too. Less weight means less stress on joints. All good things.

Life is simple without so much sugar in it. I know people get annoyed when I pass up dessert. I donít mind if you eat it. It doesnít bother me to watch you eat it. No kidding. I wonít go back to sugar. Iíve had my share of sugar and then some. Less sugar in my life works for me. I'm not demanding that you give up sugar, I'm merely suggesting that it might be an eye opener for you. Life is sweet enough without added sugar.

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