Hi all! I know it’s been a while since I’ve been on here, I’ve been in vacation-brain mode since I was away! I have a couple of full recap posts coming for ya soon, but they’re not quite ready yet. Since it’s been a little too long since my last post, I wanted to jump in today with these thoughts on diet and nutrition.
For the past few years on this blog, I’ve been fighting the good fight when it comes to dietary restrictions. I’ve put my foot down many times in the defense of fat, and even saturated fat and the necessity of these things in your diet. It’s been a very long time since I’ve jumped on the “low-fat” or “no-fat” train, as I’m very well aware that the research backs up the positives of including fats in your diet. Thankfully, it seems that the “no-fat” craze of the 90s has officially fizzled out, save for a few chemical monstrosities masquerading as food here and there.
As the media and general public finally catch on to the ideas that fat and cholesterol aren’t actually the devil, there has been another victim of fear mongering to replace these two. Sugar. I’m not here to break down research studies and tell you what exactly sugar is doing to every cell of your body, rather I just want to have kind of a philosophical conversation about all of this today. Now that fat and cholesterol are “okay”, is sugar really the poison that’s going to bring down the human race? Should we really be demonizing sugar and removing it completely from our diets, or looking at the bigger picture?
There have been a few articles that have come out over the past several months detailing the new food guidelines and the changes between fat, cholesterol, and sugar. I read this one a while ago, and although I’m very happy about the changes, I can’t help but wonder are we just going on another witch hunt?
Again, devil’s advocate here.
I agree that sugar needs to be controlled, I’m all about moderation — but is this really the singular key to a healthier society? Or should we be looking more at “bigger picture” — sedentary lifestyle, posture, time spent outdoors, working too much, etc. I just have a really hard time believing that sugar is everything that is wrong with our society’s health as a whole. I went completely sugar free last year, and stayed very low sugar up until my wedding in July. But do you want to know what happened when I became a little bit more lax with my sugar intake in the months following the wedding? I lost weight. In fact, I lost about 8 pounds which is pretty significant on my frame. And believe it or not, that weight is still off. I kid you not when I say that I even thought something was wrong with my health because I couldn’t figure out why weight was just falling off of me.
Do I think that eating more sugar than I had been previously is what made me lose this weight? Of course not– I think there were a lot of other factors at play– less stress, for example. But the point is, it was the bigger picture that lead to this, not my sugar intake.
Scientific research this is not, in fact it’s hardly even anecdotal evidence of anything at all, but my point is that when I stopped being the sugar police, I saw improvements in my body that I had been striving for until then– and failing. So yes, I agree that as a whole, our society consumes far too much sugar. From sodas to juices to sugary coffee drinks, it’s pretty out of control. But what I don’t want to happen is for people to place more value on sugar than is necessary, and miss the importance of other big changes that may be necessary.
Reducing sugar but still sitting hunched over at a desk for 8-10 hours a day is not going to make you that much healthier, in my opinion. Reducing sugar but remaining sedentary and spending 90% of your time indoors is not going to make that big of a difference in your health. Yes, reducing sugar from an extremely high level of consumption is important, but it’s just one small piece of the health puzzle. There is so much more that we need to focus on, so much more that we need to be conscious of in order to make true strides in our health.
So am I saying that we should all eat all of the sugar that we want? No, of course not, I just don’t think we need to become fanatical about eliminating sugar from our diets. A little sweetness in life is not a bad thing, and as long as sugar is treated as a treat, and not a constant component of your meals, it’s not something to stress about.
Besides, I like cupcakes, and a life without cupcakes is no life at all.
Readers: How do you treat sugar in your diet? Do you eat it without abandon? Do you limit it or restrict consumption completely? How do you feel about the newer dietary recommendations?