Is There Such a Thing as “Smart” or “Healthy” Sweets?
Martha C. Lindsay, MS, CNE, Certified Advanced Clinical Nutrition Response Testing, GAPS Certified
Refined sweeteners of any kind are extremely unhealthy for your body and brain. This includes not just high fructose corn syrup and sugar, but also concentrated fruit juices, syrups, lab-created chemicals ending in “-ols,” and dozens of other euphemisms for sugar that sound natural and healthy, but are actually anything but. This is why it is frustrating to see candies and sweets that are labeled as “healthy”, “smart”, or “kid-friendly”. It is impossible to be any of these things when candies or sweets contain these sweeteners.
What makes sweeteners so bad?
Refined sugar and sweeteners break down the body’s protective blood-brain barrier, allowing toxins into the brain. This can lead to a whole host of problems including joint, back and abdominal pain, brain inflammation, headaches, changes in behavior, skin rashes, cardiovascular damage, stress, gastrointestinal problems, overstimulation of the pancreas, and many more. The best way to avoid these serious health issues is to avoid consuming refined sugar and sweeteners — but it isn’t always easy to know where they’re hiding.
In the grocery store, you’ll notice statements printed onto packaged food that say things like, “No high fructose corn syrup!” and “Trans-fats free!” Keep in mind that marketing professionals looking to sell products wrote those labels. While those statements may in fact be true, it doesn’t mean there isn’t anything else unhealthy lurking in those products. Make sure to read the actual ingredients listed on the package for potential health hazards. Any one of the substances on the list below will affect the body just like refined sugar or corn syrup would. And with over a hundred different names for sugar out there, and new ones being coined by marketing professionals all the time, this list is not complete!
Other words for “Sugar:”
- Crystal Dextrose
- Corn Sweetener
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Fruit Juice Concentrate
- Fruit Juice
- Invert Sugar
- Cane Sugar
- Cane Juice
- Evaporated Cane Juice
- Raw Cane Sugar
- Cane Crystals
- Brown Sugar
- Beet Sugar
- Palm Sugar
- Date Sugar
- Coconut Sugar
- Rice Malt
- Barley Malt
- Malt Syrup
- Rice Bran Syrup
- Glucose Solids
- Diastatic Malt
- Muscovado Sugar
- Turbinado Sugar
- Demerara Sugar
A “Sweeter” Alternative
We all need a little sweetness in our lives. The natural sugars found in whole fruit are much easier for your body to process than added sugars. But for those moments when you’re in the mood for something a little more indulgent, you can find a never-ending supply of wonderful recipes for candy, cakes, cookies and ice cream online that are simple to make and use raw honey, whole fruit or coconut milk for sweetening. With such an abundance of healthy recipes from which to choose, there is no reason to deprive yourself of dessert. Check out these sugar-free chocolate popsicles, these almond cookies, or this paleo-approved peach cobbler. Take a look on Pinterest for healthy dessert recipes, or type “desserts and candy made with honey” into Google, and see how many more wonderful ideas pop up!
No matter what sweet treat you choose (or if you do slip up and eat a candy bar), keep in mind that it is a good idea to consume sweet foods after meals so that your full stomach can dilute the sugar, slowing down its absorption into the bloodstream. This will help to lessen the roller coaster effect that can happen during sugar absorption; the rush that then leads to a crash, causing swings mood and changes in behavior. It’s especially helpful to save sweet foods for the right time if you have children who need good attention spans and proper focus on school days. So start the day off with a proper breakfast, and save the sweet treats for dessert!
Setting your kids up for success
So many children are diagnosed with ADD and ADHD each year, and only 5% of these diagnoses are actually neurological in origin. When children consume too much sugar, especially early in the day, their attention spans can dip significantly soon after. Eating high protein, healthy fat, and a minimum of refined food products for breakfast will help keep blood sugar levels (and behavior) stable until lunch. Bacon, eggs, waffles, pancakes made with nut flour, and even these Secret-Ingredient brownies all are good balanced options.
Another wonderful breakfast option is steel cut organic oatmeal, to which you can add fruit, nuts, coconut oil, honey or smashed soft dates.
To prepare a batch of steel-cut oatmeal for the entire week:
(1) Measure the amount of oats you will need for the week, allowing approximately 4 servings of oatmeal per 1 cup of oats, set aside. Then measure the amount of water you will need into a pot, allowing 3 to 3.5 cups of water for each cup of oats.
(2) Bring the water to a boil, then remove from heat. Add the measured amount of oats, cover the pot and leave on the cool stovetop or counter for 12 hours. (During this time, the enzymes in the oats will digest the compounds we cannot digest ourselves, such as gluten, stachyose and raffinose.)
(3) Place the pot back on the burner and bring the oats to a boil over low to medium heat, stirring often, until the oatmeal has the consistency you like.
(4) Cool and refrigerate.
(5) When ready to serve, dish oatmeal into bowls and heat in the oven while you’re getting the kids ready and setting the table. Add whatever else you like to the oatmeal, stir until cool enough to eat, and enjoy!
By starting your day with healthy, high-protein foods designed to keep you and your kids feeling full and satisfied, your cravings for toxic candy will vanish, and your brain will thank you for it.
Martha Lindsay MS, CNE, Certified GAPS practitioner is a member of Dr. Diane Roberts Stoler’s integrative team of brain health experts with a Master’s degree in Microbiology and Public Health from Michigan State University and certifications in Whole Health Nutrition Education, and GAPS diet. She helps clients develop a nutrition plan that optimizes both brain health and overall health. She holds an advanced clinical certification in Nutrition Response TestingSM, a muscle testing technique which is used to choose the most appropriate specific nutrition products for each individual. The specific nutritional program she develops for each client enhances that individual’s immune system function which then helps their brain and body to function more efficiently.
Whether you are recovering from a concussion or brain injury, getting your brain optimized to function at its peak level, or optimizing your overall health, Martha can work with you to set individualized nutrition plans to help you achieve your goals through diet.
To feel and perform better, schedule an appointment with Martha today! Please call 800-500-9971 or submit an online contact form.
TAGS: sugar, high fructose corn syrup, candy, brain health diet
Gut and Psychology Syndrome, by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, revised 2013.
Lick the Sugar Habit, by Nancy Appleton, 1996.
Grain Brain, by Dr. David Perlmutter, 2013.
Cure Your Child With Food, by Kelly Dorfman, 2011, 2013.
The 21 Day Sugar Detox, by Diane Sanfilippo, 2013.