Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Spring Cleaning Carnival: Get the Refined Sugar Out

April 12th, 2010 · 284 Comments · Science of Nutrition

This week’s carnival hostess is Donielle from Naturally Knocked Up, who blogs about how diet affects fertility.  Be sure to catch all the past topics and upcoming themes here. Here’s Donielle:

My Personal Story with Sugar
white sugar

My entire life I’ve eaten sugar, and lots of it. Throughout my childhood I honestly don’t remember a day that went by without some sort of sweet thing to eat. Each and every snack we ate throughout the day was laden with the white stuff; cookies, brownies, pudding, Jello, fruit snacks, Little Debbie snacks, and on and on. We had dessert after dinner each night without fail.

When I hit my teen years it got even worse. I now had my own money for buying any snack I desired and usually hit the country general store to grab a coke and candy bar each day on my way to work. I worked at a shaved ice place (like snow cones but softer) and the amount of sugar we poured into the syrup now makes me teeth hurt! But yet, I ate plenty while I worked. Extra syrup please.

The coffeehouse that came next was no better since I had easy access to the flavored syrups and since my parents owned it, I drank as much as I wanted. I got married, got a ‘real’ job and you know what? Women love to bring candy to work and set it out. Somehow it’s normal, and so I was constantly bombarded with sweets at work.

At home I regularly ate at least a half a gallon of ice cream each week. I was constantly buying bags of candy, drinking a case of pop a week, and kept up the dessert tradition I had learned as a young child. On many occasions I actually ate entire bags of chocolate chips or jars of frosting in one sitting. But because I was within 10 pounds of my ideal weight I never thought it was an issue. Sugar was good, and if you weren’t trying to lose weight it was fine to eat as much as you wanted. Right?

More Sugar, Fewer Cycles?

Here’s where things start to get really personal. I rarely got my period as a teen, sometimes going a year or more without aunt flow making her appearance. In 2003, at 22 years old, I was finally diagnosed with poly cystic ovary syndrome and told that I would have to take medication/birth control pills for the rest of my ‘menstruating’ life and use more medication to conceive.

As the time finally came when my husband and I wanted to start our family, I knew I would have issues getting and possibly staying pregnant. So I started to eat better and cut out many of my favorite junk foods. After many, many, many months, we finally conceived our son, born in 2006. But after he was born I fell into old habits again.

While I had cut back on my daily ‘junk’ food consumption, sugar was still prevalent in our house. I vividly remember my husband and I polishing off a half gallon of ice cream one night. And I didn’t think twice about it. 
What did cause me to think twice was when I started to feed my little one solid foods. I started reading, and researching, and found more and more information regarding the downfalls of eating sugar. The issue of fertility kept coming up and caused me to be more intrigued.

Much to my husband’s dismay, I did a 180 in the way I ate and prepared my foods!

While sugar consumption was just one part of that, I believe it was one of the most pivotal and biggest changes I made and I noticed the difference in my mood and also migraine frequency within weeks.

And you know what? Within months after I cut out refined sugar, my cycle normalized and I began ovulating regularly. For the first time in my life I could look at the calendar and know, almost to the day, when I would ovulate. It was such a freeing feeling knowing that my body was finally working in the manner that God created it to!

The problems with sugar

There have been many, many books written about the dangers of sugar. Every doctor, dietitian, and dentist (conventional or natural) recommends cutting back on sugar consumption. It’s one ingredient that no one tells you to eat more of. And yet we consume more sugar now than ever.

Sugar’s in a very large amount of processed foods, our beverages, salad dressings, even our vitamins, and we’re bombarded with it at every turn. On average we now eat approximately 158 pounds of sugar per year, per person. That’s more than any time – ever – in the history of mankind. In terms of white sugar, that comes out to about a half a cup (or about 24 teaspoons) of added sugar to our diets each day!

So what’s so horribly bad about it? Let me give you just 5 of the countless ways sugar can damage our bodies.

  1. It’s addictive. Just like a drug, we get addicted to the way sugar makes us feel. It stimulates the release of dopamine (a feel good chemical) and we like that. We get a quick mood booster and learn to depend on certain foods to help us feel better. Ever dive for the cookies or ice cream when you get in a fight with your spouse?
  2. It affects our fertility. Sugar causes a rush of insulin within our bodies, and that rush causes quick spikes and then quick drops of our blood sugar. Because insulin is a hormone, it affects our other hormones, causing a cascade of issues surrounding imbalanced hormones. When we have to much sugar in our blood, our livers turn the excess into a lipid, which then shuts down a gene called Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), which reduces the amount of SHGB protein in the body. This particular protein plays an important role in the amounts of testosterone and estrogen available for the body to use. It also depletes the body of vitamin B which is an essential nutrient for fertility and ovulation.
  3. It feeds cancer. Actually, it feeds all the cells in our bodies, but in the same insulin spiking fashion that affects our reproductive hormones, the spike of sugar also causes a response by the growth promoting hormones.
  4. It lowers our immune system and it feeds the yeast and bacteria in our guts. Did you know one can of pop can lower your immune system for just over 6 hours? The bad bacteria can take over easily and you fall ill to the viruses and bacteria you are exposed to.
  5. It causes vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Being so hard for your body to digest, sugar actually causes your body to use more of its nutrient reserve in order to process it and remove it from the body. This malnutrition results in a host of health issues!
To Be Continued…What Can You Do?

Tuesday at Naturally Knocked Up, I’ll have some advice on how to lower your refined sugar consumption and get past those sugar cravings, along with some tips and recipes on how to make desserts that will fill that sweet spot without all the white sugar: 

I’m drooling!  Donielle’s blog is definitely worth a visit, and be sure to visit some of the other entries in the carnival, too.  My entry is the Monday Mission this week, where you’ll find my personal “no sugar” story and links to some popular alternative sweetener treats.

Next week we’re moving into the bathroom cupboards and tackling parabens in personal care products with Mindful Momma.  What’s a paraben?  If you don’t know, all the more reason to be sure to stick around to see.  Find all the upcoming themes (and try to guess what I’ve lined up as giveaways!) here.

GIVEAWAY:  Healthy Snacks to Go eBook and Some Healthy Snacks

I won a giveaway from Honeyville Grain at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free a few months back, and my kids have been having such fun with their freeze dried apples.  They makes the perfect pantry staple for a no-sugar, diaper-bag friendly, I-didn’t-have-to-make-it snack to go!  You can use the freeze dried fruit for baking and cooking, reconstituting it to be back like regular fruit, but we just eat it plain like finger food.

If you’ve never seen freeze dried fruit, it’s so lightweight it almost seems fake.  The closest thing I can compare it to is those little Gerber “puffs” that are made for toddlers to eat.  They are a seriously fun treat for this real food family, and they’re 100% fruit, no added anything.

Honeyville Grain has offered to give two winners here at KS their choice of one large can of freeze dried fruit ($16.99-24.99 value each).  The cans are about the size of a big coffee can and hold almost 3/4 lb., which will be enough to last your family for quite a few on to go outings.  The winners will also receive a copy of my Healthy Snacks to Go eBook, published next week here at Kitchen Stewardship!  See my other post today for some drool-worthy photos and recipe teasers to get an idea of what’s in the eBook.

Enter to Win

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.  THANKS FOR ENTERING!

You can enter to win both at Naturally Knocked Up and here by leaving comments, with an extra entry for linking into the carnival.  Here are four opportunities to enter (Please leave a separate comment for each one):

  1. Comment with a piece of your personal sugar story:  your addiction, rescue from sugar, something you’re trying to do to get the sugar out, etc.
  2. Subscribe in a reader or via email to Kitchen Stewardship (or tell me if you already do).
  3. Follow me on Twitter AND Tweet about the giveaway (just click the button at the top of this post).
  4. Check out Honeyville’s freeze dried fruit and tell me what kind you’d choose if you win.  There are so many choices I’m not even sure what I’d pick!

(If you receive KS via email, you will need to click over to the site to leave a comment.)  Please leave all your entries in separate comments so it’s easier for me to count.

We will use random.org’s integer generator to choose the winner.  The snacks giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, but anyone may enter and hope to win the eBook!  If you’re outside the U.S., please tell me in your entry, and if you win, we’ll just draw a second name for the snacks.  Thanks!  Entries will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, April 18th DEADLINE EXTENDED to Wednesday, April 21 at midnight EST because of technical difficulties over the weekend! Donielle and I will post the winners soon!

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Don’t miss the rest of the star-studded carnival line-up!  Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed. You can also follow me on Twitter or get KS for Kindle.

If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclosure: Honeyville is providing free product for you, but I didn’t receive any compensation for sharing about the company in this post.  See my full disclosure statement here.

Photo credits: chiara vaia and Ula

I’m entered in Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

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284 Comments so far ↓

  • kimberly

    am I first?!? I just recently (last week) started subscribing to your feed on google reader. I am totally into everything about this. and I love apples.
    .-= kimberly´s last blog ..the God of cheerleading. =-.

  • Annie

    I’m addicted to sugar since a young age. At the age of 18, I decided to omit high fructose corn syrup to improve my dental health. This declaration led to a long battle omit this sweetener in the products I consume, which is nearly everything at the supermarket. It took a good year or two before I stopped buying processed foods and stuck to healthy foods.

  • Annie

    I’d choose the mango variety if I won.

  • Annie

    I’ve subscribed via email

  • abbie

    I am a subscriber! I just love the info you post here! thanks so much.

  • abbie

    I just found freeze dried fruit at the big-box store…but the packaging is terrible with snack-sized portions…I’d love to try out this product. Mango, blueberries, and pineapples are the ones I’d love to taste first. Great give-away!
    .-= abbie´s last blog ..packaging day 18 ~ vacuume cleaners =-.

  • abbie

    sugar is so addictive. My mother seldom if ever let white sugar pass the threshold of our home. We did the honey, molasses, and brown rice syrup thing. But mostly we didn’t eat refined sugars at all. No candy, no soda, no sugary cereals. We did eat fruit for dessert every night after dinner.
    In collage eating on my own, of course the sugary things were everywhere! Candy, beverages, and processed foods. I gained 30 lbs over three years. I only lost 20lbs after I graduated and became ill with the flu.
    I finally lost the last 10lbs after I figured out I needed to adhere to a gluten-free diet. But I still battle with the “need” for something sweet. Trying to regain energy and immunity after being pregnant and nursing for 2 1/2 years straight, my goal is to limit all packaged foods my family consumes and commit to making meals from scratch in the kitchen.
    I feel sugar is like a tether that keeps you tied, wanting more, and concentrating on that need turning away from the indulgence of real food. I want to introduce my family to the wonderful tastes, textures and smells of the foods I enjoyed as a child without being beholden to the obsession with sugar.
    This is a great post..and a wonderful giveaway!
    .-= abbie´s last blog ..packaging day 18 ~ vacuume cleaners =-.

  • Stacy

    I subscribe via google reader

  • Stacy

    Strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries. I can’t decide.
    They sell something similar in the bulk section of our healthy food store, and they’re yummy.

  • katie

    I gave up sugar for a month last week because I have a huge sugar addiction. Now I am in the process of learning how to eat it in moderation but after reading this maybe I should cut it out all together!

  • katie

    I subscibe via google reader

  • katie

    I would love to try the mango!

  • nopinkhere

    I have to admit I haven’t tried to give up sugar except during my pregnancies (gestational diabetes). In fact, I wind up choosing it as an ingredient over HFCS. But I am trying to use more alternative sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, and less processes sugar.
    .-= nopinkhere´s last blog ..Spring Cleaning, Sort of =-.

    Sara Reply:

    Actually if you really look into it, there IS raw agave nectar. Just because there is people giving agave nectar a bad rap doesn’t mean we need to not use any at all. There is a lot of bad things said about honey but they are talking about the processed honey not raw. Should all honey be eschewed because of what we hear.. no. Same with agave.

    nopinkhere Reply:

    I’ll have to look more into it. I had tried it because I had read that it didn’t cause spikes in your blood sugar as much. Thanks!
    .-= nopinkhere´s last blog ..Spring Cleaning, Sort of =-.

  • nopinkhere

    So many yummy choices–mango, pineapple, or apricot
    .-= nopinkhere´s last blog ..Spring Cleaning, Sort of =-.

  • nopinkhere

    read you in Google Reader
    .-= nopinkhere´s last blog ..Spring Cleaning, Sort of =-.

  • Banana

    I loved the post from Naturally Knocked Up! I have been doing a lot of reading up on the sugar issue, and I am wondering if it is part of the reason my last two babies were over 9lbs. I am trying to limit my sugars this pregnancy in hopes of a lower birth weight, but I know it will have a positive impact on the baby even if the birth weight is still high, so whatever the outcome, it gives my baby the best start.
    We eat pretty healthy, but it seems like there is sugar in everything! It has been a real challenge to get it out, especially since I have to give up dairy during my pregnancies too, but I am loving all the recipes and info here on your blog! I have already made ghee and the Chickpea wraps, and we bought coconut oil today, so I am excited to try it out! Thanks for all the inspiration!
    .-= Banana´s last blog ..Holy Saturday 2010 =-.

  • Banana

    I would love to try the dried blueberries or the apples! They look so good!
    .-= Banana´s last blog ..Holy Saturday 2010 =-.

  • Anna

    Yay for no sugar hangovers!

  • Anna

    I subscribe already

  • Heidi

    I subscribe Via google reader.

  • Junita

    I would try the banana chips – love them! Very fascinated with your article on sugar. Wow.

  • Lanie

    I have terrible mood swings and so want to cut out the sugar!
    .-= Lanie´s last blog ..Easy Turkey and Spinach Lasagna Recipe =-.

  • Amy

    I subscribe to KS through Google Reader

  • Angie

    I subscribe through google reader.

  • Jenny

    We’ve recently given up ice cream (and, believe it or not, replaced it with *raisins*) and I just bought some agave nectar to play with.

  • Jenny

    Also, I subscribe via google reader.

  • Jenny

    We’d love to try either the apple or raspberry options.

  • Esther

    Katie,
    Thank you for this series and this post. I’ve been thinking seriously about cutting down on the refined sugar. I can tell immediately when my kids have too much refined sugar/processed foods at daycare. When they get home there’s almost an immediate crash and the tantrum that goes with it. On weekends, when we eat more fresh fruit with natural sugars, no juice and lots of veggies and whole grains, the kids just seem to be a bit more even in their tempermant (as even as a 3 and 1 year old can be!! :) ) I gave up diet soda and coffee–not easy–about a month ago and feel so much better. I’m taking baby steps and encouraging my husband to do the same. One day I’d like to see our home virtually free of white flour and white sugar and there’s no better time to start than the present!

  • Esther

    I subscribe through Google Reader.

  • Esther

    Freeze dried fruit sounds awesome!! It’s a toss up between the apples and the peaches. Both would be a huge hit in our home.

  • Stephanie

    I subscribe with google reader

  • Stephanie

    If I won I would definitely get apricots- they are my FAVORITE dried fruit. I’m hoping to get a dwarf tree planted this year so I can dehydrate my own next year!

  • Stephanie

    I have always battled a wicked sugar addiction and am slowly replacing white sugar with honey in my cooking and baking. Next is snacks, and it’s going to be a tough one.

  • Spring Cleaning Carnival: Get Refined Sugar Out | Organizing Your Way

    [...] on over to Kitchen Stewardship, where Donielle is sharing her own story of battling a sugar addiction, to learn more about why you would even want to reduce or eliminate [...]

  • Lenetta @ Nettacow

    I did a Yeast Elimination Diet that cut out white flour and sugar and helped me to drop weight quickly, but I was too picky (and tired from caring for my baby!) to sustain it. I’m thinking it’s time to give it another try, though…
    .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..Yeast Elimination Diet =-.

  • Lenetta @ Nettacow

    I already subscribe
    .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..Yeast Elimination Diet =-.

  • Lenetta @ Nettacow

    I follow you on twitter and tweeted

  • Lenetta @ Nettacow

    Peaches or strawberries. I think I’d have to flip a coin! Yum!!
    .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..Yeast Elimination Diet =-.

  • JeriP

    I subscribe via Google Reader. I would choose apricots but would love any and all of their fruits. Honeyville is a great company.

  • Sarah

    I am a hypoglycemic, so sugar and I already have a hate relationship. When I took the test to determine the problem it was the 3 hour glucose test and the first hour I crashed out so hard I felt completely ill! I was literally curled up in the chair in the waiting room wishing I could just be done. My Dr told me that normal people spike up to 200 or so that first hour…I crashed down to 70 something. I also have bad mood swings that are associated with that sugar crash (incidentally my mom also had bad mood swings when we didn’t have meals at regular times or she ate too much starchy food at a time, so I’m thinking the poor sugar tolerance comes from something on her side of the family). Since learning that, and working to use more natural sugars/sweeteners I’ve really cut back on the amount of sugar I consume and don’t really have too many cravings for it any more. I’ve also done things like started to use Stevia in my coffee (I know I should probably give that up to, but at this stage, my stomach actually needs the acid to function properly, so I just make sure I get organic, water process decaf and call it good). The Stevia gives me the sweet taste I want without any worry of a crash out, it’s great!

  • Sarah

    I subscribe via email

  • Sarah

    I would pick either the Apricots or Blueberries..mmmm!

  • Tina

    I subscribe via bloglines and love your blog! Thanks for bringing out such great information every time you post.

  • Tina

    My get the sugar out story, comes from this February as a challenge for myself. I challenged myself to not eat sugar for the month, minus v-day and my daughters birthday. It was great, and best of all, I don’t crave the stuff anymore, it truly is addictive!

  • Heather

    Oh my… I think, if I had to pick, I’d go with the freeze-dried raspberries.
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..fun with fonts =-.

  • Heather

    Already subscribed via Google Reader.

  • Heidi

    I would want the raspberries if I won.

  • Heidi

    I cut HFCS out of our diet about 1 1/2 years ago. Since then I have been trying to find mnore ways to reduce the sugar in our lives. I try to make everything from scratch, and when I remember I cut the sugar by about 25% in dessert recipes. we try to eat more fruit for desserts, but my sweet husband isn’t on board with that yet… I wish I coul just cut it out, but we aren’t there yet. We are working on it… Chocolate would have to be my downfall.

  • Heather

    As far as sugar goes, I’ve been attacking it in what I drink. I love coffee and tea and juice, so I’ve been trying to slowly cut down on the sweetener in my coffee (sugar) and tea (honey). With juice, my husband is a big fan of diluting, and it’s started to rub off on me. Can’t do it with orange juice, though, but lemonade I can’t take full strength anymore.

    Dessert is relatively rare in our house (although I do still have the tendency to grab a cookie when I’m really hungry), although I do love to bake desserts — I just make sure to do it when we’re sure to share it with someone! We also use turbinado or some other more “raw” sugar when we do use sugar — in part because the little bit of molasses in it gives it a nicer flavor. But it will make your lemon bars maple colored rather than sunny citrus colored!

    I tried a yeast-free diet once, very briefly, in high school (as per doctor’s suggestion), but all I remember is my mom frying me up this greasy, oily piece of eggplant and trying to gag it down. I think that I love baking bread too much to go entirely yeast-free, but the idea of going sugar-free (at least cane sugar) is pretty intriguing.

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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