Monday, April 26, 2010

honey, honey

Okay, when I heard the suggestion of cutting out sugar, I asked, "What can we eat?"  The answer was:

Agave Nectar
Maple Syrup
Fruit and fruit juices
Evaporated cane juice (sparingly)
Stevia (still learning to like this one)

***I am just going to stay away from sugar substitutes.  I do understand that some people have their reasons for using them.  But since one of the points of us staying away from refined sugar is that it is so processed, well, that would make Nutrasweet, Splenda, etc, even worse.  There are many many studies and facts about why these are not okay.  The way they were developed, the way they got FDA approval, the way get pulled because it gets linked to to some sickness, the way that it gets banned in Europe but we still drink it here by the gallons, you can find all that info if you do a little search.*** 
 Besides tasting like chemicals to me all I need to remember is how I was doubled over in pain one night in high school and it didn't go away until I finally realized it was because of my Fresca phase.  I was like, "Oh, my stomach hurts.  Maybe a drink will make me feel better.  Oh, my stomach hurts even worse.  Where is my Fresca?  Oh, that and how and how when a friend of mine has it her body treats it like arsenic.  Yep, arsenic.

If something contains other than the super processed, ultra white, completely void of any nutrients whatsoever, sugar or high fructose corn syrup, it will list it as so.  It was hard to figure out and find at first, I had to a lot of reading and searching.  But it was not impossible.

There can be arguments about any of these being good for you but I kind of look at it as a "good, better, best" kind of thing.  It is best to cut it all out.  But not for me, not my kids, not my sweet tooth... but it is better to use sweeteners that have some type of nutrients in it.  These nutrients are a plus and a possible negative.  Refined sugar has every sort of color and nutrient completely processed out of it so it is a negative and a negative.  

Now, my kids have sugar, but not half as much.  I consider this good.  In his prayers, Samuel prays that his mom will let him have sugar.  This is not good.  I don't want the focus to be on the deprivation.  They have sugar at school, at friends' houses, at restaurants, when the bank teller gives it to them, when they find it (they can find it anywhere), when husband or grandma gives it to them, when I get sick of saying no... but I will just try to cut back where I can.  I know that the less I use sugar as a crutch, the more healthy foods they will be eating.  My mindset needs to be that sugar is a treat, not a staple.  

Here are a few of my tips (though I am obviously still learning):
-Fruit.  I try and cut up a bowl of the good stuff in the morning and just have it out for anyone that passes by.  It is sweet, it isn't processed, and full of good stuff.  Tonight we had three cousins over.  Usually, the movie menu would be popcorn, m & m's, 1 more type of candy, and root beer.  But tonight it was popcorn, apples (cut like fries), mangoes, grapes, and water. Guess what?  No one (except Karl.  Sorry, Karl!) missed the sugar.  Cousin A asked for more apples and Cousin B asked for more mangoes.  
-100% fruit fruit leather.  Costco has a big box of them.  They are compact, I can keep a few in my bag and hand them out whenever my kids need a quick snack.  Target has some tasty fruit treats, too.
-Nuts.  Yes, I know they are not necessarily sweet but sometimes all we need is something to munch on.  
-Raw honey.  It has so many health benefits.  At any given time you can find Karl and my dad spouting off great honey facts.  It is funny, but true.  I can use honey for baking, too.  I have a couple of recipes that I really like.  One if for whole wheat honey banana muffins and the other is for whole wheat honey brownies.  
-The health food store (for us it is Good Earth, Sunflower Market, Whole Foods, and Harmons has a pretty decent selection).  I found replacements for some of our staples where we wouldn't miss the sugar at all like mandarin oranges without gross syrup, ketchup, mayo, etc.
-Xylitol.  It is good for your teeth.  It is in Trident but if you want gum without artificial colors you have to get it at the health food store.  At Good Earth I found a pretty good selections of gum and little candies.  
-Plan ahead.  Most of my sugar purchases and consumption occur when I am starving or my kids are starving or just out pure habit.  That means I had to think about where we were going and what we would eat ahead of time and pack some fruit and snacks so we wouldn't have any emergencies.
-Fruit sodas and fruit juices.  My kids think a juice box (we call them squeezies) are a treat.  When I am craving something sweet, sometimes I will drink a fruit soda, like a can of Izzy's soda.  It is make from water and fruit juice and I love them.  Just make sure they are 100% fruit.  
-I try to have the mentality that sugar is for social and celebration.  That way I don't have to feel like my kids are missing out and I am not inconveniencing anyone.  Since I know that I am the one giving them the most sugar I will cut it out as much as I can at home and I think I will make a huge difference.  And now, maybe sugar will be special instead of a daily staple.  If my family wants a special treat, or we are at a party, or someone's house, we will eat sugar and enjoy (I may cringe inside but I will won't let anyone see).  If my kids want an afternoon snack I will do my best to fix them something with nutrients, fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole wheat bread, etc.. 

But sometimes there are times that I just want a treat.  And this is my last tip (yes, there is a end to this post).
-Be a treat snob.  If I have a choice between some mediocre cookies at the church party that someone picked up at the grocery store and waiting and trying some dessert at a fabulous Italian restaurant... just wait.  If I have a choice between stealing a handful of waxy, holiday shaped chocolates from the kids' stash or waiting and getting a V Chocolates chocolate covered strawberry... just wait.  You get my point, right?  I try and point it out to my kids.  Do you want this (mediocre treat) right now or would you rather have that (great treat) later tonight?  In the past we would have had both (and right now, my kids still want both).  But sometimes holding out and waiting for something I really love prevents me from mindless sugar eating.  And it makes the good stuff taste all that much better.  I will always try new stuff.  It is a hobby of mine.  If I love it, eat more.  If I don't, leave it.  Here is the shocker for me, sometimes, even I really loved it, one bite was enough.  

Do you want recipes or should I just move onto my soap box labeled "Whole Grains" next?


Annie P said...

Are you sick of my comments? Sorry. but thank you. This is probably my favorite post. It is exactly what I have been thinking about how to approach this in our family. So yes - recipes please and then I will be anxious for the whole grains post. You could have a whole blog just on this adventure!

Annie P said...

OH and I was going to say that in Sunday School yesterday the teacher had plain old cupcakes that I would have normally eaten but I sat there thinking - is this really what I want? I knew I was having a yummy birthday cake that night so I said no and it felt so good.

Michelle said...

You've definitely inspired me!!

So, today I went through my cupboards and pulled out anything that has sugar (or the likes thereof) as one of the first three ingredients. I was SHOCKED! Someday, I'll be ready to do the whole enriched flour elimination too, but baby steps for me. Then I went and bought a bum load of fruits and veggies and started cutting away. Necessary to do this in advance otherwise when the kids and I am ready for a snack, we don't have the patience to prep it. So now I need to buy more tupperware to store all these fresh snacks.

I'm super pumped that I am making better choices for me and my kids. Thanks for the posts and I would love recipes too. What do you feel them for breakfast?

Malea said...

i started using stevia time ago. It's definately not something I use 100 percent. If I'm baking in bulk for an event I use sugar cause I'm cheap. It has a higher burn level for me I've found, but one think that I love love about food is the experimenting. I'm not an scholar, I hated math and all science, but for whatever reason, if it comes to food, I will form equations and hypothesis if it means I get to eat well. Post your findings when you find them. I'm all about this, too. Good job!

Malea said...

i started using stevia time ago. It's definately not something I use 100 percent. If I'm baking in bulk for an event I use sugar cause I'm cheap. It has a higher burn level for me I've found, but one think that I love love about food is the experimenting. I'm not an scholar, I hated math and all science, but for whatever reason, if it comes to food, I will form equations and hypothesis if it means I get to eat well. Post your findings when you find them. I'm all about this, too. Good job!

Malea said...

ps, youtube kelly e keough with the sweet truth. she also has a great cookbook out. i've tried several recipes, which are great once you have a regular pantry full of her must haves.

pamela said...

oh ok, i love this post, and mostly because after my months off sugar i came to the exact same conclusions. the only sweeteners i allowed were honey and maple syrup, because i've never known how anyone could overdo it with either of those two. fruit leather, yes, be a treat snob - absolutely. i totally allowed myself any fancy juices i wanted too, it helped - lots of the Naked Brand drinks.

GO christina!

Emily said...

okay. You said it perfectly. No guilt trips. Just purely inspiring common sense!

You. are. awesome.

And yes. . . I want recipes.

Kristi said...

I'm waiting for the updated bread recipe.

Amy said...

Thank you so much! I went off of gluten a few months ago because it was giving me problems and I've been pleasantly surprised that it's been easier than I thought because there are breads, tortillas, etc. that are tasty and satisfying to replace wheat products. It's inconvenient when I'm out and about, but, at home I always have something on hand.

Now, I'm figuring out that sugar is making me really sick. So, I go off it and feel great. Then, I find myself binging and feeling horrible yet still binging. Going off sugar is so much harder and I finally figured out that it's because I haven't found an acceptable alternative. I'm with you on the artificial stuff. And, I'm finding that sweets (honey, etc. or otherwise) increase my cravings for sweets and decrease my ability to enjoy healthy foods. I was just going to send you a msg asking for advice, and then - this wonderful post!!!

I would love recipes and or more suggestions as you come across them (like what about chocolate chip cookies or brownies? I can make them gluten-free but they are still loaded w/ sugar. I miss them). Also, do you know where to get Xylitol at a reasonable price? Have you baked w/ Xylitol?

Heath'e' said...

I'm so glad you are writing about this! You can teach me sooo much. I too have been thinking about the sugar intake at our house and how we need to make changes. I have been making small changes here and there over the past month. I think watching Jamie Oliver, really helped, that and biggest loser!For Easter I was a total treat snob only getting the "good" jelly beans, cadberry eggs, etc. Not good for me but I knew I wouldn't sit and eat it all in one sitting I would eat some now and then 1 a day as my late night snack until it was gone. My kids have always been pretty good about spacing out their candy just having one or two pieces and saving the rest for later. Jarron got 5 now and laters on Thursday he ate one and gave his sister one, then did the same yesterday and ate the last one today. All on his own. I was impressed! But I too was a sucker for fruit snacks, It says fruit right! :)
I bought Popsicle makers so I can pour real fruit juice in them and freeze. Then when the kids ask for a Popsicle I feel great about it. We've also been doing yogurt ones too.
Please keep writing about this and sharing your recipes and ideas. They are a tremendous help and push to do better!

Nells-Bells said...

i am loving your sugar posts. we are really being proactive about changing our sugar habits and adapting a more unprocessed foods diet. i LOVE fruit leather! it is such a great treat for the kids and me!


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