15 September 2016

Sugar - Toxin or Treat?

Sugar - Toxin or Treat? / Magical Meyer Lemon Bars / www.delightfulrepast.com

I'm often asked: 1) how I maintain a normal weight being a food blogger who features a lot of desserts, and 2) how making those desserts squares with my whole healthful eating philosophy. So I thought I'd address those questions here today. Sugar - Toxin or Treat?


A Balance I Can Live With


Am I anti-sugar? If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I make plenty of recipes with sugar (though I reduce the sugar where I can, but never use artificial sweeteners). So, no, I am not anti-sugar. Do I think sugar consumption "in moderation" is a good thing? No, not exactly.

It's just my opinion, but I think I would probably be better off eliminating all added sugar (whether it is sucrose or fructose, coconut palm sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave, etc.) from my diet. But, barring a dire pronouncement from my doctor that I've developed a serious condition and truly must, I'm never going to do that. I mean, let's be realistic!


Quality Over Quantity 


I've seen recommendations that we not exceed 6 to 9 teaspoons (24 to 36 grams) of added sugar per day. It sounds like a lot, but when you consider that a 12-ounce can of soda has more than 9 teaspoons of sugar, it's easy to see that if you want to stay within that limit, something's got to give!


Sugar - Toxin or Treat? / Cream Puffs, Eclairs and Profiteroles / www.delightfulrepast.com

With so many fabulous homemade pies, cakes, ice creams, scones, jams, biscuits and all sorts of desserts to be enjoyed, I've chosen to eliminate sodas, candy and all but the very best (I am fond of Walkers shortbread) store-bought sugary treats from my diet. I can't see wasting my self-imposed sugar allowance on junk!


It All Counts, Not Just Dessert


There's lots of "hidden" sugar in things like flavored yogurts, teriyaki sauce, sweet and sour sauce, barbecue sauce, ketchup, salad dressings.


Sugar - Toxin or Treat? / Tangerine Marmalade / www.delightfulrepast.com

Alcohol is also a sugar, so if I'm planning to have a glass of wine with dinner, then I adjust my sugar allowance for the day. If I'm having biscuits or toast and homemade jam or marmalade for breakfast, that will affect dessert or snack choices for the rest of the day.


Doing the Math


The dessert I posted last week, Coffee Chocolate Gelato, contains 32 teaspoons of sugar in a quart; a 1/2-cup serving contains 4 teaspoons of sugar. Fresh Peach Sheet Cake contains 38 teaspoons of sugar and I cut it into 16 servings; so one serving contains under 2.5 teaspoons. 

Fresh Peach Scones recipe contains 12 teaspoons of sugar for 12 scones; one scone contains 1 teaspoon of sugar. Chocolate Butter Cake without frosting contains 72 teaspoons of sugar and I cut it into 16 servings; one serving contains 4.5 teaspoons of sugar. (You can do the math on the frosting; I always scrape off frosting!)

It doesn't call for a lot of math because I never weigh or measure myself, I never "diet," I don't concern myself with fat grams (I simply avoid the unhealthy fats, trans fats, altogether) or calories or anything else. I just monitor the sugar and ask myself "Is this worth it?" before I start eating. No mindless eating. And, as I often say to Mr Delightful, we don't need to have a dessert every day! I also tell him, "Don't do the Dew (Mountain Dew)!"


And the Science


I like to have all my sugar for the day in one sitting, so my body just "takes the hit" once a day instead of having several blood sugar and insulin spikes. (Don't ask me about the science on that one, it's just a feeling I have.)

If you are interested in weight control and the science of it, check out Darya Rose, PhD, at Summer Tomato

There are a lot of documentaries, books and articles out there about sugar, but I'm not going to go into all the scientific data about sugar. That's beyond the scope of this blog. I just wanted to tell you how I handle it. How about you?

72 comments:

Angie Schneider said...

Moderation is the key! Love this post and thanks, Jean, for sharing it.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Angie, thank you so much!

Cranberry Morning said...

Hear, hear! I could have written that same post, Jean, but not nearly as well! Even down to the love of Walker shortbread. And now I have to contact Angie, if I can find her without going to Google+. I had forgotten how much her pic looks like Lionel and Tuppence. :-) Have a wonderful day. xo

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Judy! I'm just hoping people won't see the title and assume I blog recipes that use artificial sweeteners or something and so not read it. (I think G+ is a pain! And I don't think the people using their comment system know how commenter-UNfriendly it is and that they're missing out on a lot of comments.)

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

Oh, this is gonna surprise ya, Jeani…BUT – straight up – that’s pretty close to my philosophy in a lot of ways and as far as it goes. I do factor in a lot of burning of calories into my decisions, because I’m so active. Very solid thinking and expressing on your part. 5 cleavers!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Yes, Sully, I really am surprised! Never ever EVER expected to get the 5 Cleavers on this one! Thank you.

Shirley@Housepitality Designs said...

I like the idea of you taking your "sugar hit" just once per day...makes sense....great post!

Richard Sheppard said...

I've been bouncing on and off sugar for years now and right now I'm pretty much off. I've believed for years that sugar (and refined carbs), are the true problem, not fat and cholesterol. Yesterday I went to see a good friend of mine in the hospital for a triple bypass. Now he's quite a bit older than me but when I see a good friend in the kind of shape he's in and I read the news about the sugar industry and their cover-up, it really makes it all sink in. Sugar is bad, plain and simple. But even knowing all that, a treat once in a while is still called living.

BTW, I'm making your Cabbage soup (I add grilled sausages to my bowl!) tonight (yet again) for dinner.

Fran @ Gday Souffle said...

I find that if I start off the day with packaged cereal (which contains sugar), then this makes me crave sugar for the rest of the day. So I have cut out the cereal in the morning and now have 2 boiled eggs with cottage cheese in the morning. Still, I couldn't resist eating several of my 'Chocolate and Peanut Butter Molten Lava' cakes- I know what you mean about blogging and trying to keep your weight down!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Shirley, thanks. I don't know if it's "scientific" or not, but it seems to work for me.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Richard, I'm not a big "believer" in cholesterol, but there is evidence that it is sugar that raises cholesterol much more so than fat. But I will continue to enjoy sugar and refined carbs (my organic unbleached flour!) occasionally and in small doses. So glad you're enjoying my cabbage soup! :-) Oh and best wishes to your friend for a speedy recovery.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Well, no, Fran. It's too much to ask of anyone to resist your c&pb molten lava cakes! But it's so true that a proteinless sugary breakfast will wreck one's whole day nutrition-wise.

Beatrice Euphemie said...

I am with you, Jean. I think a little 'sweet' in our lives balances out all the 'sours'! Life is too short to not enjoy a treat now and again, but the key is 'balance', right? I like the idea of doing the math! I really never thought to do that with a recipe, but it makes perfect sense to keep sugar consumption in check. Great tip! Hope your weekend is sweet, too. xx Karen

Summer said...

Moderation is what is important. And you are so right about about sugar in some meals ♥

summerdaisycottage.blogspot.com

Sylvia said...

Jean, I enjoyed reading this post and it is very helpful.

Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) said...

I like this post. My theory is everything in moderation. And yes, until the Dr. tells me differently, I'm going to continue to eat to eat as I do: a healthy diet of lean meats, fresh veggies and fruit. With an occasional burger, burrito, potato chip and brownie thrown in, I don't feel guilty about that at all. But I do spend my day sugar conscious. I cut out soda over twenty years ago. I live on club soda. I'm still getting those bubbles. And now a Pepsi or a coke tastes so sweet I can't drink it.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Karen. Yes, that bit of math is just the reminder I need to not go overboard.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Summer. Moderation!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sylvia, thank you so much. I'm glad you found it helpful.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Lea Ann, that's right - sometimes you just need those bubbles! That's when I break out a bottle of Pellegrino. And if I want it a little sweet, I can squeeze half an orange into it, right?

Bernideen Canfield said...

Thank you for sharing such great and helpful information!

annie said...

I am very careful with sugar. I generally leave it alone!

Tony Grant said...

Ah Jean, I like your thinking. Something we teach kids in science is about having a balanced diet. We teach all the constituents, fruit, vegetables, fibre, protein, sugars, oils the lot. There are some spectacularly colourful charts around that show it all!! Kids love drawing them. Children over here might be able to tell you what a balanced diet is but to actually eat a balanced diet, that is another question. The dinners they get at school are generally planned around the balanced diet concept. If they have packed lunches we encourage a piece of fruit, a healthy yoghurt for calcium and a sandwich with a salad and protein filling such as fish, non reconstituted ham. We send letters home to suggest ideas for the parents.But basically for us all, every one of us, it comes down to a balanced diet. In recent years, probably many years, I have had more than a fondness for cheese. This has unbalanced my diet and given me too many saturated fats. I have cut out cheese now and I make sure I eat a variety of fruit each day. I am hoping that keeps me on the straight and narrow!!!Ha! Ha! I go for a run every day so that keeps me fit.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Bernideen, thank you so much! I hope it will prove helpful to one or more of your readers.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Annie, that's good. I had a bit yesterday -- a few bites of a wonderful key lime cheesecake at a special lunch; probably won't have any today.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Tony. Remember that sugar, not just fat, raises one's cholesterol and other lipids. I do have a bit of cheese every day, but lots more fresh fruit than cheese. Sounds like the school lunches in the UK are better than those here. Fast food outlets have set up shop in many school cafeterias, and colas and other sodas are there as well, even in vending machines on campus.

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

I do watch my carbs, Jean, but always make sure I balance them with protein. I'm not a fat watcher, either, and have basically been doing The Zone diet for the past 17 years, and it works for me. Although I share a lot of desserts on my blog, I do watch what and when I eat them. I enjoyed reading your take on the sugar issue very much! Happy baking, my friend.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Kitty, for weighing in (I know, I know, pun intended!). Yep, if we keep watching what and when we have all these things we cook up, we can keep right on enjoying them. Happy baking!

Chloe Crabtree said...

For health reasons I have been trying to reduce my sugar intake, I admit it, I am addicted to it. Fortunately I am not diabetic or even pre diabetic, but I know that I would be healthier with less. It is interesting to hear the small amounts in some of your desserts when you break it down to a per serving amount. I am glad you stopped by Celebrate and Decorate!

Debbie @ Coach Debbie Runs said...

It's a difficult question. While sugar may not exactly be the devil, it certainly isn't good for you. However, we must enjoy the food that we eat without being afraid of everything we put in our mouth. A moderate amount of sugar has to be better than any kind of substitute. One of the problems I think, is that the more you eat, the more you want. Better to cut back, enjoy an occasional treat, and try to stick to an overall healthy eating plan. Thanks for sharing at the Blogger's Pit Stop.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Chloe! I wish you success in your efforts to reduce your sugar intake. It does get easier, and you can actually lose your cravings. Have a wonderful weekend!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

I agree, Debbie. Right now my sugar intake is low enough that I don't really crave sugar. When my husband brought home three big cookies today, I wasn't even tempted. I just thought how I don't even like those particular cookies and they're not made with the quality organic ingredients I use; they would not satisfy. I'd rather have zero sugar today and then tomorrow enjoy about a 4-teaspoon dose of sugar in the homemade dessert I'll be making.

Julia Nyanyo said...

What a sensible post! I'm pretty much the same, I enjoy a biscuit with my tea after work (I'm English so I guess that's a cookie to you!) but I do moderate it, and if I have a couple of biscuits mid afternoon I won't have any dessert later.
I also find by making homemade when I can I can cut the sugar down, most cake, biscuit or cookie recipes can have the sugar reduced by about a 1/4 without changing the taste too much, still not healthy but at least you know what you are having.
I agree about the artificial sweeteners too, I try to give them a wide berth!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Julia, thank you so much. I consider "sensible" to be a real compliment. I enjoy a couple of biscuits with tea as well occasionally. I have a friend who has to have a treat of some sort every time she has a cup of tea. But, as I told her, that would be a real problem for me since I drink tea about 8 times a day! :D

Cocoa and Lavender said...

Jean - being careful about our sugar intake is very important. I, too, enjoy my sugar but find I need less and less of it to make me happy. It will continue to see sugar on my blog as well!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

David, it's easy to see from the beautiful desserts you post on Cocoa and Lavender that, like me, you like to make your sugar *count*!

janice15 said...

Jean, this was a wonderful post. I'm always telling my grown children about how sugar is in a lot of things most everything. A how pastas break down into sugar too. Thanks for sharing this info. Have a wonderful day today and lovely weekend. With love Janice

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Janice. Yes, I really try to watch the pastas and breads, too. I love bread! So I'll gladly give up dessert for bread! Keep telling your children, someday it could sink in. Have a wonderful weekend.

Jeanie said...

What a fun, well-written and really informative "real person" look at sugar and the approach. Excellent info. You know, I really wish that manufacturers would say how many teaspoons a serving breaks into instead of percentages or grams. That's a measurement easy to understand. I think it's all too easy when baking to forget to do the math. And with this, I have to say that my shortbread recipe with only 1/4 c. sugar (and a respectable yield) makes me feel a little less guilty than it did before. Of course, it's hard to eat just one!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Jeanie, thank you, I'm so glad you liked it! I think manufacturers don't really want us to know these things, so they put the required nutritional information in as unclear a way as possible! :D

Jann Olson said...

Jean, you have got it all figured out! I just wish I had your will power. Wow, to eat it in just one setting. My sweet tooth would not know who's mouth it was in. lol! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
hugs,
Jann

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Jann. I try. LOL about your sweet tooth! I don't really think of it as willpower because I'm not denying myself anything. Like yesterday, husband came home with a can of Pepsi (at least it wasn't Mountain Dew!) and offered it to me. I thought, I haven't tasted that in ages, wonder how that would taste, so I poured myself 2 ounces of it, did the math (1 1/2 teaspoons), drank it. I found I still liked the flavor but not enough to waste my sugar allowance on it!

The Lazy Gastronome said...

Great post Jean!! My opinion - the artificial stuff is the toxin! Thanks for sharing on the What’s for Dinner link up

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Helen! Yes, while I think too much sugar is harmful, I think *any* amount of the artificial stuff is bad.

Michelle Spilman said...

Moderation is the key! Thanks for a good read!
Michelle

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Michelle. I wasn't sure this post would be well received.

Swathi Iyer said...

you are right, sugar is present in everything, thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop. tweeting.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Swathi. I'll always be willing to "spend" my daily sugar allowance on your perfect opera cakes!

Margie said...

Thank you for the informative post, Jean! I have a sweet tooth, but I try to exercise moderation in my sugar consumption.

Did you read about the sugar industry scandal that was reported in the news earlier this month?

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Margie, I'm so glad you liked it. I hadn't seen that report until someone read my post and told me about it. It didn't surprise me in the least! Thanks for mentioning it; I would not have wanted to miss it.

April J Harris said...

I was so interested to read this post, Jean. I've been really concentrating on healthy eating and exercise since January and I've lost 25 pounds. I've not cut out sugar either, but I am watching how much I consume. As someone who blogs about food, it can be challenging, but I've perfected the 3 bite taste test (one for flavour, one for texture and one for good measure!). Like you, I don't want to give up sugar but I'm happier cutting back. I think it's all about moderation. Thank you so much for sharing this excellent post with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

April, thank you so much. I wasn't sure how this post would be received by others who blog about food. I like that 3-bite taste test idea! And congratulations on your healthy eating and exercise program. Keep up the good work!

Judy at GoldCountryCottage said...

Hi Jean. I'm with you. I know I probably eat too much sugar, but so far after all these years my doc hasn't said no to me so I will keep calm and carry on. Thank you for your kind comments and visit to me. Don't ever say never about painting. I have changed over the years and haven't regretted it a bit..Have a wonder week..Judy

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Judy! Speaking of painting, I got a little overzealous in my scrubbing the wall over the stove today, and it looks like I'm going to have to get my paintbrush out! :-(

Linda @ Life and Linda said...

Very helpful post Jean. I think what works for me is moderation. I don't eat a lot of sweets. Have a lovely week.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Linda! You, too!

Lori -thestonybrookhouse said...

Hi Jean! Great information. Sugar is a hard one to control, it is addicting. The more you have the more you want. I try to keep it out of my diet also, for the most part....

Thanks for sharing at Dishing It & Digging It! We enjoy seeing great ideas each week!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Lori! My pleasure!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I've had to learn about 'hidden' sugars. I can not tolerate sugar...I have an immediate reaction to it. And I have to be careful about fruit or even carbs. When I tell people I don't eat any sugar, they say that's what makes it easy to keep my weight down. Well, it's not really so easy but I sure feel good without any sugar in my diet. And I don't eat artificial sweeteners either. I use a little Stevia in my coffee and tea but when I want a dessert, it has to be a fruit dessert with no added sugar. Whew! Too much information? heehee! Hugs, Diane

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Diane, no, not too much information at all -- lovely to hear from you! It's wonderful that you feel so well without sugar. As a child, I never got hooked on candy because I preferred fruit and didn't feel well when I ate candy.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I've blogged about this and I've been surprised at how many people are bothered by sugar, especially sodas. I don't have a choice...I am deathly ill if I eat sugar. I have a really bad reaction. Thanks for this post! Hugs!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Diane, not having a choice in the matter is a really good thing. When I see people drinking those giant sized sodas I always wish there was something that would make them wake up to the damage they're doing to themselves.

Denise Altman said...

Right there with you on all of this. I am a southerner who hasn't had a glass of sweet iced tea in 2 years. However, I miss my fountain drinks-cold coke with crushed ice is awesome with pizza. I like Walkers too because the sugar is low, I also like Quadratini wafer cookies in dark chocolate (Trader Joes, World Market). A serving is nine cookies, 8 grams of sugar-feels like you are getting a lot!I also like bittersweet chocolate when my sugar jones is out of hand.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Denise, thank you. I've never come across those Quadratini wafers; I'll be sure to check them out next time I'm in Trader Joe's or World Market. Congrats on staying off the sweet tea and CoCola!

Marilyn Lesniak said...

This debate has become quite prominent this week! Thanks for sharing at #WonderfulWednesday. Have a great week!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Marilyn. And thank you for hosting at #WonderfulWednesday!

Joely Smith said...

Great article! I could not agree with you more! Natural sugar is far better than substitutes! I prefer Sugar in the Raw.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Joely! I think there's only one thing worse than sugar substitutes, and that's butter substitutes! :D

Aimee said...

Such a great post and I learned a lot! Trying to give up sugar will be a challenge for me but I think my body will thank me. :)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Aimee! I was hoping you might some helpful info here. Most disorders are caused or made worse by inflammation; and cutting out or cutting back on sugar helps with that. Keep up the good work!

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

I always used to be one who would graze all day long. I might only have 2 cookies in a day, but it was a bite here, a bit there. I recently made a change similar to yours, where I just want that one sugar hit a day, rather than staggering it out. I think that is smart.
Your information about 6 to 9 teaspoons of sugar a day is very interesting. I don't drink sugared drinks, but am curious to watch my total sugar intake and see where I end up in that equation.
Thanks for the great info!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, BRnLC! I'm so glad you found it interesting. It's hard to be balanced, but I'm trying!

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