The "why" part we explain like this. Sugar is 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Glucose is used by every cell in your body as energy while fructose is primarily processed by the liver. High levels of consumption can also lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (one of the fastest growing diseases in western society) and fructose is highly addictive so the more you eat the more you want to eat and the less sensitive to sweetness.
The "What about other sweeteners" we stick to a couple of basic rules:
- We use dextrose for baking
- We use Rice Malt Syrup (a complex carbohydrate that is fructose free) instead of golden syrup, maple syrup and honey
- We use stevia sometimes too
- We eat whole pieces of fresh fruit but no more than 1 piece per day - and while yes fruit contains fructose you can never really eat that much because of all the fiber (think of eating 7 whole oranges instead drinking 500ml of orange juice)
As far as other sweeteners goes:
- Brown sugar contains molasses which means it has a tiny fraction more mineral, but it’s still 50 per cent fructose like white sugar.
- Honey and maple syrup are about 40% fructose and contain vitamins and minerals.
- Dates contain about 30 per cent fructose and some vitamins and minerals, but some recipes use cups and cups of blended dates and at 1 teaspoon of sugar per date that is a lot of sugar.
- Agave syrup is up to 90% fructose and expensive so not something I would buy.
We also assure people we are not militant about it. Our aim is to reduce the sugar in our diets as much as possible not to be poster children for the sugar free movement. Overall we like to keep our sugar intake from all sources to less than 5 teaspoons per day.The World Health Organization recommends that we limit our intake of added sugars to no more than 10% of total calories. That comes to about 50 grams of sugar, or the equivalent of 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar for a person eating 2000 calories a day. One tablespoon of granulated sugar is equal to about 12 grams so we are aiming for less than that.
When it comes down to it, if we really want to treat ourselves to an ice-cream at the beach we will, which probably happens about twice a year for us.
If a recipe for 8 serves includes 1 table spoon of sugar at this stage I would probably just use it as I still have sugar in the pantry to use up and on hand in case other want it in their tea or coffee. We still eat chocolate (75% cocoa and above only) on occasion. If I wanted to have honey on toast once a month I would. If we were at a dinner party (not that we go to many of these) and the host had made dessert I would just ask for a small portion so as not to offend and to acknowledge the effort they put in.
For us this is about our health and by avoiding sugar we all of a sudden avoid a lot of overly processed foods and beverages that are not good for us either so it seems like a win win situation.
Do you avoid sugar?
Do you have rules about what sugars you will and will not use?