October 24th is Food Day! This is a day dedicated to celebrating that one thing we all need and love: FOOD! But not just any food: it’s a campaign to champion sustainable, healthy, and affordable food. People all over the nation are celebrating holistic nutrition by attending events and inventing ways to incorporate a healthier diet into their family's wellness routine by replacing junk food with healthy, whole foods.
So yes, it’s true: here in Portland, we love healthy food! You'd be hard-pressed to walk around downtown without stumbling across a restaurant dedicated to using only local and organic ingredients with culinary pizazz. But even with healthy dining options abound, many people have an Achilles' heel…only it's a tooth. A sweet tooth.
Yes, those "sweet teeth" can be the rotten sore spots in our plans for holistic health. So this year, why not celebrate holistic nutrition and Food Day by reducing your sugar and sweetener intake?
Why cut down on sugar? Not only is sugar high in calories, but it may also make you want to eat more. Sweet foods fuel the “feel-good” neurotransmitters in the brain, resulting in increased food cravings which can cause weight gain. Sugar substitutes are just as bad, if not worse. Like sugar, artificial sweeteners can increase your appetite, but they can also cause a slew of other health issues. Sucralose (Splenda) is made from sucrose (table sugar) that is treated with chlorine, which is known to cause cancer. Other side effects of Sucralose can include nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, anger, and itchy eyes. Aspartame, the sweetener found in Diet Coke, can also have side effects, such as depression and mood disorders. Have you ever heard of “Aspartame Disease?” Dr. H.J. Roberts, MD, claims that Aspartame causes its own syndrome with many symptoms, such as memory loss, shooting pains, cramps, numbness, blurred vision, and slurred speech. Yikes! Bottom line: sweets should be eaten in moderation.
I know—it's easier said than done! And it doesn't help that sugar and its substitutes only make you want to consume MORE sweets. But cutting down isn't impossible. I recently read a helpful article by Cynthia Sass on abcnews.com called "5 Steps to Quitting Artificial Sweeteners." She offers some really useful tips on how to remove artificial sweeteners from your diet. She offers great tips for cutting out harmful artificial sweeteners, but you can also apply them to cutting down on sugar all together.
There are a million reasons to eat less sugar. It's important for maintaining a holistic, healthy lifestyle. But what about dessert? Not to worry, sweet tooths. There are still options out there that allow for sweet satisfaction while also maintaining a low-sugar diet. Looking to learn more? You can learn more about sugar and holistic nutrition in our accredited Introduction to Nutrition Online or Nutrition, Bodycare, and Herbalism Online courses here at ACHS! On that note, in honor of Food Day 2013, here are some yummy tips for cutting down the sugar.
1. Use Fruits and Nuts
Fruits are full of antioxidants that will help keep you healthy and feeling great. And the best part: they are SWEET! I know when I have a craving for something sweet after dinner, the first thing I reach for are my organic raspberries in the fridge. Here at American College of Healthcare Sciences, we recommend about five to 10 servings of fruits and veggies a day. Nuts, on the other hand, are not only a great source of protein, but they're packed with polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats that may help lower blood cholesterol levels when used instead of saturated and trans fats. Nuts are great to mix with fruit to create some delectable treats.
2. Drink More Water
Drink up! Upping your water intake is one of the easiest and healthiest things you can do for your body. By drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, you are helping your kidneys and other organs effectively flush out toxins. Also, when you drink a glass of water with a meal, you might actually feel fuller, and that can help counteract sugar’s nasty habit of stimulating your appetite. Plus—studies have shown that if you DON’T get enough water, you reduce your liver’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates into energy, and it will store those carbs as fat instead.
3. Life by Dark Chocolate!
While dark chocolate still contains some sugar, did you know that cocoa (pictured right) has about twice the antioxidant count of red wine and nearly three times that of green tea? Cocoa powder is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods; it can also reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol. And it's a great mood booster! However, in order to reap those benefits to their fullest, make sure to buy natural and organic dark chocolate. Also, be sure to choose non-Dutch-process variety cocoa. The Dutch Process treats the cocoa to temper its natural bitterness, and this destroys some of the flavonols that add to the natural benefits of cocoa. Have a chocolate craving yet?
After that, check back tomorrow for a 4th Bonus Tip on cutting out sugar. Plus: a surprise original recipe for a yummy, low-sugar dessert!
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.
 Sass, C. (2013, October 7). 5 Steps to Quitting Artificial Sweeteners. abcnews.go.com. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/steps-quitting-artificial-sweeteners/story?id=20472787#3