5 Amazing Reasons to Cut Down on Sugar

Sugar, in its many forms, is everywhere and letting it creep back into your diet can be an easy thing for even the staunchest anti-sugar peeps.

Also winter is around the corner and the change of season often means that we spend more time indoors and, as a result, are less active. And being less active can lead to, well, putting on our “winter coat”.

A great way to reduce the chance of this happening is by drastically reducing your sugar intake. Reducing refined sugar intake isn’t necessarily easy as it’s found in virtually all packaged foods, drinks and food at fast food restaurants are laden with it (a large Big Mac meal deal has 85 grams of sugar–236% of your daily allowance). Although it takes a little effort and planning to avoid sugar, it is very worth it in health and wellness rewards.

Here are 5 pretty amazing benefits of eating less sugar:

1. Improved sleep

Insulin levels are regulated when our blood sugar is balanced and one of the benefits of this is deep, restful sleep. Regulated insulin also has a balancing effect on the rest of our hormones as they all work together. This balance helps to improve our energy levels, brain function and, again, the quality of our sleep. A restful sleep gives us consistent and lasting energy throughout the day, increases our ability to focus and makes us less susceptible to sugary afternoon treats to get through the day, helping us to naturally cut down our sugar consumption.

2. Weight Loss 

Did you know that you can lose weight by cutting down on sugar without even reducing calories? This often happens because sugar spikes our blood sugar levels and insulin levels, as well as disrupting neurotransmitters in our brain. All of this increases fat storage. Eating more protein, fiber, fruit, and vegetables increases our metabolism, which then helps our bodies burn calories more efficiently. Losing or maintaining weight isn’t just about the daily calories consumed, but about the quality of foods we eat and the way our bodies process them.

3. Mental Clarity

Expect to feel more focused and clear-headed when giving up or cutting down on sugar. When our blood-sugar levels are consistent and healthy, our brain is more alert and we don’t feel as sleepy throughout the day. Also, too much fructose from foods containing high-fructose corn syrup (many processed, packaged foods) taxes our liver and pancreas. When this happens, these two organs have to work harder to manage all of the low quality sugar in our systems and remove it from our blood stream. While doing this, they exhaust energy reserves which otherwise should have been used for breaking down fat and converting it to usable energy. This can result in an unpleasant cocktail of moodiness, anxiety and even exhaustion.

4. Anti- Aging

Sugar is a primary contributor to the aging process, says Dr. Robert Lustig, a physician who has extensively researched sugar’s effect on the human body. He says fructose, the sweet molecule in sugar, is seven times more potent than the glucose portion of sugar. Fructose (ie. high fructose corn syrup) forms free radicals in our bodies, leading to higher rates of cell damage and death.

In a way, we “rust” as we age, he says. Oxidative stress turns our tissues brown. Overindulging in excess added sugar will speed up this browning process and speeds along the aging process in general.

5. Heart Health

It’s easy to imagine how having excess fat in our blood stream and arteries can lead to heart problems, but less people know about the role sugar plays in cardiac issues. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories per day from added sugars (6 teaspoons) for women, and 150 calories (9 teaspoons) for men for optimal heart health. Unfortunately people now consume 22 teaspoons per day, on average.

A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association has also shown that people who ate between 17 and 21 percent of their calories from added sugar had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with people who consumed 8 percent or less of their calories from added sugar. So less sugar, along with moderate exercise equals a healthy, happy heart.

So, there you have it, some excellent reasons to think about dialing back your sugar habit.

Next post will have a delicious, sugar free dessert to help make living without refined sugar easy and delicious.

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Chocolate Hemp Energy Bites

I like to hike.

And on a long hiking trail, keeping my energy at an optimum level is important. I bring lots of water, in the summer I pack a hydrating watermelon smoothie and snacks. Lots of yummy snacks.

Here’s one packed full of carbohydrates for quick and easy energy. It also has hemp hearts for a clean protein, good-for-you omega 3 fats and a bit of dark chocolate for anti-oxidants and the yumminess factor.

Chocolate Hemp Energy Bites

2 cups of rolled oats – organic
1 cup organic peanut butter
1/2 cup 80% dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup raw organic honey or maple syrup
3 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup ground flax
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup organic pumpkin seeds

Combine ingredients in bowl. Let sit in fridge for 25 minutes. Roll into balls. Coat in hemp hearts.

Enjoy.

A Return to Love

My cousin was the first one to tell me about A Return to Love about a year ago. At the time, I was beginning to be interested in spirituality but didn’t want to read anything too heavy and certainly nothing that would require me to change in any significant way.

After my cousin’s glowing recommendation, I decided to buy the book and slowly made my way through it. There were things I liked and could relate to and things that I thought “No WAY!” Too idealistic I said. We’re living in the real world. This isn’t doable at all. Also, the ego isn’t a bad thing, I argued with her. Hasn’t the author heard the term “healthy ego”?

The book quickly found a place in the corner of the bottom shelf of my bookcase and life went on.

Flash forward a year and 12 energy healings later. The healings were with an amazing woman named Karen Heywood. Find out more about her here. All of a sudden I found myself craving the words and wisdom of ‘A Return to Love’. I dusted off my copy and opened a page. And, wow, what a different experience. Now Marianne Williamson’s words made total sense. There was no healthy ego I realized as I read the words all over again. Finally I felt ready to learn what this book had to teach me and I couldn’t wait to dive in. When the student is ready, they say, the teacher will appear. In my case, I guess, the teacher will appear again.

I’ll be writing more about this amazing book in upcoming posts but, in the meantime, here are a few of my favourite thoughts and quotes I’d like to share with you. I hope you like (read: love) them as much as I do:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.

You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think.

Do what you love.
Do what makes your heart sing.
And NEVER do it for the money,
Go to work to spread joy.

May my heart be your shelter, and my arms be your home.

Love in your mind produces love in your life. This is the meaning of heaven.
Fear in your mind produces fear in your life. This is the meaning of hell.

World Environment Day and Homemade Hummus

I was really hoping to get this post out yesterday which was World Environment Day but I spent the evening hanging out at the beach and celebrating the day by soaking up our beautiful natural world.

The big topic of conversation with my friends yesterday was the effect of meat consumption on human health, the environment and, last but not least, the suffering of animals in the factory farm system.

I read an article recently that if the human population keeps growing at the rate it is, food supplies will have to increase by 70%. 70%! Imagine cutting down that many more forests to raise animals to eat? Forests which cool the planet to raise cattle whose gas when fed an unnatural diet of grains (which we are currently feeding most cattle) create methane gas that damages the ozone layer and contributes to global warming. Is it just me, or does that sound like a very sad recipe for disaster and a burning hot planet? And beyond the environmental consequences of excessive meat consumption, it does our bodies good too to stay away from too much meat.

And don’t think that you have to give up meat. Change doesn’t have to be so black and white. The less meat we all eat the better our health is, the less animals we hurt and the healthier and cleaner our world is. Every meal that we eat beans and grains and veggies is a big step in the right direction. If every person ate, say, half the meat they are currently eating, the planet would be transformed. The transformation would be a cleaner environment, less cruelty and healthier humans. It’s a win/win/win.

And to get started, here is my hummus recipe. I whip this up in my blender, serve with an herb flat bread and a big salad full of veggies and avocado and dinner is served. Yummy, healthy and cruelty-free. Oh, and the magic is in the truffle oil.

Homemade Olive Hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • fresh lemon juice from 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 3 chopped black olives
  • 2 T Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil
  • Salt to taste

Blend all ingredients together and serve.

What is Monsanto doing to our wheat supply?

Do you ever find it strange that so many people in the past few years have developed a gluten/wheat intolerance? I can’t help but think back to my childhood, teen years and even 20’s and 30’s, when hardly anybody had an allergy to anything. I don’t even remember hearing the word allergy when I was in school. Granted it was a small, country school, but still. It feels like every other person I chat with today has a sensitivity/allergy/intolerance to something in their diet, or leaky gut, IBS or another illness of the digestive tract. All of this has made me wonder just what is going on in with our health these days. Then I stumbled on an article last week that could explain the problems and issues and ill health that so many of us are currently experiencing. The topic of the article was Glyphosate.

What is glyphosate? It’s a poisonous weed killer that conventional grain crops are now sprayed with a few days before harvest time. In fact 95% of farms in Canada’s prairies are spraying this GMO Monsanto poison…oops, I mean product on their crops.

Why is it sprayed on crops? Because it kills the crops and they dry out and die, making harvesting them easier, faster and more profitable for the farmer. The only problem is that the glyphosate residue is all over the grain and stays there until we eat it. Now I’m not a scientist but, considering how much grain we eat, we are probably being dosed with a Monsanto pesticide almost every day of our lives. Not good. Not good and not natural and a probable explanation for all of the health problems mentioned in the second paragraph.

What crops are sprayed with glyphosate? Here’s a list of conventional crops (organic are okay) to avoid. All of these crops are currently heavily dosed with glyphosate:

  • Lentils
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Soybeans
  • Millet
  • Flax
  • Rye and buckwheat
  • Canola
  • Peas

I don’t know about you, but I find that a very depressing list. Not only are some of my favourite foods on the list, but some of the items on the list are in almost all packaged food, meaning this Monsanto pesticide is heavily embedded in our food supply.

When glyphosate is ingested it upsets the all important balance of good bacteria in our gut, probably contributing to a host of health issues and may compromise our immune system as well. 

What can we do to get glyphosate out of our diet?

  • Make sure to only buy organic when it comes the list sprayed crops.
  • Buy local as much as possible as small, organic farms don’t use Monsanto products.
  • Eat rice instead of wheat or rye
  • Don’t use canola oil in cooking or as salad dressing
  • Don’t eat soybeans as all are pretty much GMO or sprayed now-a-days
  • Email this address and tell them that it’s not okay how Monsanto is affecting our food supply

When you’re searching for safe grain products, avoid conventional agriculture and packaged food with suspect ingredients.

 It make take a little effort but your health is so worth it.

Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette

My MSG free journey is coming along pretty well. Of course there have been a few surprises along the way. One of the surprises was the realization of just how much MSG has infiltrated our lives by being in almost every prepared product on the shelves of the grocery store. This annoying little toxin is in so many every day items that you really have to re-think almost everything that goes into your mouth. An example is that I had to toss out my minty fresh, flavour enhanced toothpaste and am now brushing my teeth with a coconut oil/baking soda mixture. Oddly enough, I’m finding that I have fresher breath with this natural cleanser. I can’t wait until my next trip to the dentist for a cleaning to see what the verdict is on my new found oral hygiene. But I digress.

What I really want to talk about is salad dressing. Do you know that it’s pretty much impossible to buy a commercial salad dressing without a liberal dose of MSG added? I’ve looked and looked and haven’t been able to find one (If anyone out there knows of one please leave the brand name in the comments section below). So, I’ve been making my own dressing at home…much like I’ve been making my own everything on this journey. The TV show Little House on the Prairie that I used to watch as a teenager has been popping into my mind as I make all of my meals from scratch in my little galley kitchen. I used to love watching the show and all of the homesteading that was just part of life back then. Oops, digressing again.

tossed salad with raspberry vinaigretteSo salad dressing! I’ve concocted what I think is a winner.

Such a winner that as I eat my delicious, wholesome salad, I wonder why I ever bought that preservative filled, MSG laden store-bought dressing in the first place.

Here it is:

Raspberry Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Drizzle this over a salad of mixed greens, pecans, goat cheese and fresh raspberries for a big plate of yum!