Ah, Valentine’s Day. It’s a day where chocolate and other sweets run a’plenty and where the concept of nutrition takes the form of cinnamon hearts and truffles. With the recommended daily intake of sugar being slightly more than what’s in a Lara bar (18 grams of sugar), it’s easy to overdo it on days like Valentine’s. Celebratory dates aside, prolonged over consumption of sugar can have some serious effects on our bodies. Most sugar is refined and processed, which means all the natural vitamins and minerals are removed from its original form. Our bodies cannot recognize this ‘incomplete’ substance and uses its own vitamin and mineral stores to metabolize it. This leaves us with imbalances that cause cravings: bring on ‘hangry’ and the beginning of a vicious cycle of ‘must-have-more’.
You may be thinking “Well, fruit has sugar.” Absolutely they do - however it’s natural sugar in its whole form meaning it’s filled with its own vitamins and minerals that help with digestion in the body. The body can process it without depleting it’s own valuable vitamin and mineral stores.
So, what can prolonged consumption of excess sugar do to our bodies?
- Leaches vitamin and minerals from bones and blood (leading cause of Osteoperosis)
- Blood sugar spikes causing nausea, headaches and fatiguse
- Intense blood sugar level drops causing mood swings, anxiety, more sugar cravings, irritability, heart palpitations and depression
- Insulin resistance and diabetes
- Lowers immunity: our immune system is suppressed for 24 hours after eating refined sugar
- Weight gain
Personally, I refer to sugar as a drug. Why, you ask?
- It is highly addictive (right up there with coffee)
- Sugar lifts you up and all of a sudden will drop you
- It leaves you wanting more
- When coming off it, it leaves you moody, irritable, fatigued and with a headache
Kind of sounds like withdrawal, no? Those cravings your body sends you, sends you looking for your ‘fix’ and the cycle repeats all over again.
So, what to do? I’m in no way renouncing sugar or suggesting to never consume it again. What I’m offering is a new awareness around the impacts of over-intake.
Keen to cut some refined sugars? Give these replacements a try:
- in baking use raw honey, stevia, organic grade B maple syrup
- give coconut sugar a try (has all of its nutrients-so no blood sugar spikes and is low-glycemic) - it has a really nice rich flavour
- keep fruit, nuts/seeds at your desk at work or in a bag for on the go snacks
Sweet treats are still totally possible without the sugar – like these brownies below.
No-Bake Creamy Brownies
- 1 cup dates-soaked and pitted
- 1 ½ cup walnuts-soaked (can substitute for cashews, pecans or mixture of all of them)
- 3-4 tbsp cacao (not cocoa)
- 2-3 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp coconut oil-melted
- Add dates and walnuts to food processor and process until a paste is formed. If you find it’s not mixing well, add a bit of the date water from soaking the dates until it blends well. Add in small amounts - you don’t want to overdo it
- Add in vanilla and cacao, process until well blended.
- Melt coconut oil and add to processor. Again, process until well blended.
- Pour into a small square pan or roll into bite size balls (easiest but messy). Put in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes.
ENJOY! ( ** and keep refrigerated**)
Erin Riddell is a Cadence team member and Registered Holistic Nutritionist whose nutrition advice is sought out by Cadence riders and staff members alike.