Now that you’ve almost completed our No sugar, More Sleep September challenge, I’m sure a lot of you at this point are ready to go pile your face into a box of powdered donuts. Or maybe you’re feeling absolutely fantastic, have never felt better and are ready to go 100% sugar free for the rest of your life because you’ve finally realized that sugar is the devil… right?
In order to make sure that you don’t regret any drastic decisions come Monday morning, I’ve put together 6 great reasons to keep sugar in your diet and feel good about it. Whether you find yourself feeling guilty from eating too much sugar all the time, or you think that sugar is going to kill you at first contact with the lips, here’s some middle ground.
1 – Sugar in it’s natural form.
Sugar addicts – Sugar naturally occurs in fruits, vegetables and dairy. Curb your sweet tooth with some raspberries or blueberries (natures candy) or add in some Stevia to your yogurt. There are tons of ways to curb that sweet tooth without resorting to processed, refined sugars.
Anti-Sugar – Sugar’s contribution to conditions like obesity and heart disease has more to do with it’s abundance in diets filled with highly processed foods. It also includes many other factors like physical activity, smoking etc. It’s not black and white. If you’re trying to eat foods in their natural forms (whole fruits instead of juice), you’re exposing yourself to tons of amazing vitamins.
2- Make it a minority
Sugar Addicts – Crave something sweet every morning? Instead of reaching for a donut and some coffee with your sugar, try making some overnight oats with a little brown sugar and dried fruit.
Anti-Sugar – Adding a little honey to your tea or maple syrup to your coffee might just do more good than harm. If you’re thinking that sugars and sweeteners will make you fat, think of it this way – a warm beverage like coffee or tea is known to suppress hunger. If you’re one of those people who seem like they’re hungry all the time, drink a little sweet tea or coffee. Your caloric intake will decrease even though you’ve added a sweetener to your diet.
3 – It makes things taste better.
Sugar Addicts – So you hear that vegetables are good for you, but you can’t bring yourself to eat any ‘cause… gross. Add honey to your dressing for your salad. Add some dates to a veggie green smoothie or make a brown sugar balsamic glaze for your baked green beans or asparagus.
Anti-Sugar – If it makes you eat your kale and raw broccoli a little less reluctantly (because I don’t care how healthy you are, no one likes a dry kale and raw broccoli salad and I care about your happiness and well-being) add those dried cranberries and honey balsamic glaze.
4- Great quick fuel.
Sugar Addicts – Maybe eating that chocolate chip muffin with the sugar crystals on top (you know which one’s I’m talking about…mmm) isn’t the best choice for a boost mid workout or pre-workout. But having some coconut, cashew date balls that you made in 5 minutes at home are a better option!
Anti-Sugar – Any modern-day folk who engage in physical activity, whether it be a marathon or a family bike ride for a couple hours, need something quick and easily digestible for some energy. You want things that are easily digestible while staying active. Chicken and carrots are going to sit in your stomach and even some fruits can be too fibrous to digest comfortably. No ones bringing a packet of dry oats and boiled water with them on a hike.
5 – You had a bad day
Both Sugar addicts and the Anti-sugar – No one is reaching for a boiled potato when they feel sad. Practice mindful eating and realize why you’re eating that cookie or cupcake. Knowing when to stop is a great way to stay consistent and practise healthy portion control. A cupcake a day isn’t the answer. And purposely making yourself sad for a slice of pity pie isn’t the answer either.
6 – Enjoy the experience, make a memory
Sugar addicts – Structure your lifestyle so that you can enjoy weekends away with friends while you indulge on sundaes and strawberry rhubarb pie without feeling the guilt. If 80% of your life is filled with nutritious whole foods, save the 20% to create memories. When you feel guilty for eating an extra slice of Mom’s pie at thanksgiving, it’s probably because you did the same thing 3 days earlier.
Anti-Sugar – Licking an ice cream cone with your kid at the beach, going to Ribfest with some co-workers, eating that delicious cinnamon raisin bread your roommate made you. These are things that will give you a healthy, joyful life with meaningful relationships. Isn’t that why you decided to become so healthy in the first place – to enjoy life more?
Hopefully through reading this, you realize that there’s a nice, happy, manageable middle ground when it comes to sugar. I know you’re heard the term “everything in moderation” and that really couldn’t be more true when it comes to sugar in the diet. Keep it in there to create some happiness, balance and a positive relationship with food. If this challenge has done anything, I hope it’s created some awareness about how much sugar (or how little sugar) you ate before and how you can make some adjustments moving forward to become more happy and healthy.