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Monday, 13 July 2015

Day 9 - 14 Days of Eating Clean Mini Challenge

Day 9: No refined sweeteners – No refined or artificial sweeteners including (but not limited to): white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice. Foods and beverages can only be sweetened with a moderate amount of honey or maple syrup.

When I started reading ingredients lists instead of the nutritional facts tables on the back of processed foods I soon realized that sugar is in EVERYTHING!!!  
It's actually quite scary to think that even a savoury cracker needs to have sugar in it. Strange right.  But it's true, the most unusual things seem to NEED sugar in them to make them appetizing.  So it is time to put our foot down and live one day of our lives without any refined sugar. Can you do it?
I get so many questions about sweeteners especially from those wondering why we’ve chosen honey and maple syrup as our sweeteners of choice. I've had people say to me, Sugar is Sugar is Sugar it doesn't matter if it's white sugar or honey it's still sugar. But I want to put the record straight and tell you it's just not that simple. Sure whether it is white table sugar, raw sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or maple syrup they are all – for the most part – sugars. BUT I have selected honey and maple syrup as my sweeteners of choice because they are two of the least processed “sugars” out there, and they are also difficult to find in highly processed foods. Honey and maple syrup also have slightly more nutrients than highly refined sweeteners like white table sugar, although – once again – all sweeteners are similar in the fact that overall they are high in calories and low in nutrients. And you tend to need less honey or maple syrup to sweeten something than you do other refined sugars.

In my research I've learned that the fibre in Honey breaks down differently than other sugars and releases into the blood stream slower meaning the the Glycemic Index is lower in Honey (GI 55) than it is in white sugar (GI 68). In comparison 1 Cup of Oatmeal has a Glycemic Index (GI) of 58 compared to 1 TBSP of Honey with a GI of 55 or 1 TBSP of Sugar with a GI of 68.  You can check out this neat little chart on Glycemic Loads of common foods for more info.

The Science of it: In sugar, the fructose and glucose molecules are bound together chemically into a molecule called sucrose. In honey, the fructose and glucose molecules are floating around separately. Fructose is sweeter than glucose and sucrose. In honey, there is slightly more fructose than glucose. That’s why honey is a bit sweeter than sugar. So despite a higher calorie count, you need less to feel the same amount of sweetness.

Ok so as I type all this Nutrition Science mumbo jumbo and try to explain WHY honey or maple syrup are my choices lets go back to the root of all this. And let me explain it simply in my terms of general understanding of how I see food NOW.  

Food should be:  Simple. Unprocessed.  Not made in a lab.  My great grandmother should be able to recognize and know what it is.  

Food should not be:  Full of ingredients I can't pronounce.  Processed in a way I can't re-create in my own kitchen.  Stripped of nutritional content for the purposes of shelf live.  

For those reasons alone I can tell you that Local Honey and Canadian or BC maple syrup that are as unprocessed as possible are to me the easy answer.  
When I started eating what I called "Real Food" we ended up having to make a lot of the "sweetened" foods we wanted ourselves. It was very difficult to find any store-bought “sweet treats” that followed all of our rules – and trust me I looked! Now I do find more and more items that are sweetened with honey but you do have to be careful to check the whole ingredients list and not just read the label saying sweetened with honey because that's where the full story is.  You can learn more about the different types of Sugar's and artificial sugars that can be listed on ingredients lists on my blog post Sugar, Sugar, Sugar.

Since this sweetener restriction forces you to make sweetened foods from scratch you can see and control how much sweetener is being added. And chances are you will use a lot less sweetener than a factory.

You can find LOTS of yummy recipes here on the blog that incorporate only honey or maple sugar as the sweetner!

Check out my Healthy Recipe Round Up Page here!
In closing, there are two key takeaways when it comes to sweeteners. Never choose an imitation sweetener (like splenda) over the real thing and no matter what sweetener you choose always consume it in moderation. I hope that restricting you to honey and maple syrup today and for the rest of your mini challenges, will help you accomplish both of those things!

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