I have a confession. A month ago I gave up sugar. Not completely, that's almost impossible, but I've limited myself to 25 grams of sugar a day. That still may sound impossible for most people, and it was difficult at first, but I've gotten used to it. So what spurred this no-sugar kick? I watched this 90 minute video called "Sugar: The Bitter Truth." I highly encourage everyone to watch this video. It makes so much sense. A light bulb went off in my head. Why have Americans continued to become obese despite efforts to cut back on consuming fat? The answer is that they are consuming way too much sugar. Sugar is what is making our country fat. More specifically, it's fructose.
I'm not saying you shouldn't eat fruit. In fact, consuming fructose in whole fruits is pretty much the only way you should be eating fructose. It comes in this great package with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. However, table sugar, and of course high fructose corn syrup, is what you should be staying away from. Ordinary table sugar is called sucrose, a disaccharide. Which means it it composed of 2 monosaccharides: glucose and fructose. When you consume sugar in a can of pop, for example, the fructose goes straight to your liver where it is metabolized into fat. Consuming too much fructose can lead to insulin resistance and fatty liver disease. As well as diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and obesity. I'm probably not doing the greatest job of explaining this, so just watch the video.
Watching that video precipitated in me doing even more research into diet and exercise. I've signed up with Dr. Mercola's website and started doing his Peak 8 exercise two times a week, in addition to lifting heavier weights and my regular elliptical routine. I've been eating more protein and leafy green vegetables. I also have stopped baking. I'm kind of known for my baking around here, so people have been really surprised to hear this. (I ended my month-long streak of not baking anything today, which I will blog about later.) Instead of using eggs to bake with, I've been eating them hard-cooked in salads or scrambled in some olive oil. I do let myself have a couple of small pieces of dark chocolate every day.
I really feel great and have more energy. No more sugar highs and lows to deal with. I have lost about 5 pounds this month and our grocery bill is down about $30 per week, even after increasing the percentage of organic products we buy! Why didn't I do this sooner? I've also noticed that my skin is glowing. I recently read on Dr. Mercola's website that eliminating fructose, sugar and refined carbohydrates from your diet is the number one way to clear up adult acne.
Giving up sugar has also helped cure my allrecipes.com addiction. Instead of spending hours searching for sugary things to bake and photograph, I've been researching and reading up on healthy foods, nutrition and exercise. I'm definitely feeling more balanced. I'm still on allrecipes, but just very briefly to figure out what to cook for dinner. I've been a lot more creative too, making up more of my own recipes to suit my tastes and diet.
Now, I just need to work on giving up my other weaknesses, the white wine and gin......
Right now I'm working on getting my husband to eat less sugar. He eats my homemade granola for breakfast every morning, so I've modified to contain less sugar and also added a new ingredient, chia seeds! Yes, those are the same seeds as in the famous Chia Pets. It turns out they are a nutrition powerhouse, full of fiber and Omega-3s and easy to digest.
Here is my new recipe for reduced-sugar granola, which has about 1/3 less sugar than my original recipe. Each 1/2 cup serving contains approximately 12 grams of sugar.
Reduced Sugar Granola with Chia Seeds
(This is not a low-FODMAP recipe)
4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds and cinnamon. In a 2 cup measure, mix the canola oil, honey, maple syrup and salt. Add to oat mixture and mix thoroughly. Spread evenly over the prepared baking sheet, pressing down lightly with the back of a spoon.
3. Bake 40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool completely.
In a large bowl, break the cooled granola into large chunks. Mix in the raisins and cranberries. Store in an airtight container.