Monday, March 12, 2012

Thoughts on Sugar and a Deconstructed Cookie Pie

If your just looking for a recipe- scroll down to the bottom, but if you enjoy TMI and a rant on sugar, then read on :)

Last week I was feeling full in the tummy area and so I went to the woman doctor to make sure I was not pregs. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved that news; however, I am still adjusting 6 months post- our family going from 2 to 5 overnight.

I was not (preggers, that is).

I was housing some pretty nasty cysts on my ovaries. 22 on one ovary to be exact. I didn't ask how many on the other. The doctor said I was most likely insulin resistant, or even pre-diabetic and he did some blood work to check that out so he could give the common PCOS (Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome) diagnosis and we would go from there.

Pre-diabetic? Me?? I eat so well! How could I possibly be pre-diabetic? Turns out I am! All of this has lead me to discover that at times I am hypoglycemic (super low blood sugar) and I do actually have sugar spikes- even when I just eat a modest amount of dates and coconut sugar. What? I had no idea that my occasional splurge with dates, and even store bought vegan chocolate could do that to me, or rather, that my body responded that way to it!

When it comes down to it though, it makes sense. Although somewhat short-lived, my professional baking career was filled with filling my body with refined substances like white flour and refined cane or beet sugar. Daily. And you combine that with a family/ genetic predisposition then you get insulin resistance over time.

So I have shared my story and I guess I should have a point, right? Well here is what I'm feeling at the moment. Sugar is sugar is sugar. Now I do agree that not all sugars are created equally- there is not anything of worth in refined white cane or GMO beet sugar that fills the standard American diet. However, maple syrup is still sugar, so is coconut sugar, so is honey, so is brown rice syrup. And to a certain extent, they are in fact refined. They all are readily used by your body and quickly enter your bloodstream (some more quickly than others) or are processed by your liver to be turn into glucose to enter the bloodstream. And elevated blood sugar levels over time can lead to all sorts of problems from digestive issues to adrenal fatigue to a whole host of things.

If you come off of refined white sugar, only to replace a similar amount with maple syrup or high fructose agave, you are still eating just as many actual sugar molecules.

There. I said it. Now why would a sugar-free food blogger be downing all natural alternative sweeteners?

First, I'm really not. I just felt that it should be mentioned to those who think that they can lead a completely "healthier lifestyle" just by replacing their white sugar with a natural one. It just doesn't work that way. Even being grain-free for a while, which has helped balance out my blood sugar and insulin response, I still will have way too high blood sugar post a grain-free dessert sweetened with maple syrup. Now, many people make the healthy decision to switch to natural sugars and do it smartly and use much less actual sugar (molecules entering the body) and it ends up affecting their health in a positive way.

And often sugar is not the only or even the main culprit. For me, adrenal fatigue might be more of an issue than the evils of sugar. But sugar does affect the body when it isn't functioning properly. And when sugar is decreased it can open doors to a whole world of health.

Now, switching from refined/white/ GMO sugar to natural alternatives like honey, coconut sugar, dates, and maple syrup is definitely a step in the right direction. But we are far too reliant upon sugars from any source in this country. I guess that is my point. If I want to eat really radically to improve my specific health situation- I have to avoid any sweeteners... For a while.

Now, I'm not planning on going free of all sweeteners altogether in my recipes. Not only would some of you be disappointed, but so would my family! I just felt the need to do my part in spreading the word that sugar is sugar and we all need to be aware of how it affects us!

With that being said, here is a St. Patty's Day recipe that I hope you will enjoy that tastes great without any added sweeteners.

In the spirit of taking it easy, it's kind of a mix of some of my previous recipes here on the blog. I just used the crust recipe from this post and replaced the coconut flour with cocoa powder- no chocolate chips for me, but you can add some if you like :) I also used this peppermint shake recipe- no ice, but added 1/2 cup packed mint and 2 Tbsp frozen spinach for coloring and cocoa nibs for the chocolate "chips". I threw it in the ice cream maker to let it firm up a bit.** This recipe has about 3.6 grams of sugar per serving and almost as much fiber per serving. (Makes about 8 servings). Making it a nice low glycemic treat. source

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  1. Pre-diabetes and insulin resistance is common among those who ingest lots of starches--foods that BREAK DOWN into sugar. Limit your grains, beans, and legumes to cut down the formation of sugar from digesting these products.

    1. Yes, good point about the other sources that can easily be turned into sugar in the body. The focus of this post was on more simple sugars that I also eat, even when avoiding grains, beans, and legumes- like I mostly do. For me, I feel that once my body has reached this point of insulin resistance, it may take more than just avoiding starches to "reset" my body, so to speak.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. I cannot express how much I loved and agreed with this post. I have come to the same conclusion for our family. Although I don't have the same diagnosis, I see my body immediately react to high glycemic foods. I must admit, this has been a slow journey and a slow evolution of my thought process. Educating my family that there are good choices, but even within those choices, there needs to be moderation, is difficult, but I admire their willingness to honor their bodies and deny their appetite/cravings. I first read this post a week ago, and my first thought was, "Preach it!"

    1. Thanks so much for this feedback! The journey of making better choices, and what those look like, for me, has been a slow process as well. Sounds like your family is doing so well!


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