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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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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