While discussing Fed Up, the well-lobbyed film on our sugar-laden food system and lack of education and awareness surrounding diet in the US, my boyfriend brought the whole big bag of organic sugar out onto the porch this morning for breakfast. He scoured while laughing. I addressed it as: I was considering taking it out of the house for good, so good. His response, ha: “I know my chickens”. I thought he said, “I know my kitchen”, and thankfully so I do… I thought it would resonate that in his Italian upbringing bearing kitchen, food and romance-centric approaches to life, they value their kitchen and so he understood from such a place. But I get it too, chickens, yes. Do you know your chickens? Or your kitchen? In terms, the fine line between having rules while eating and approaching food for health reasons. Healthy eating is as such: personal. It is not to be taken personally, however. One person’s chicken is another person’s roast.
We talk a lot about the differences in Italian versus American culture, and he has a pretty big aversion to the obesity problem in the US. His solution goes something like this: eat more cake, plenty of cheese, lots of fruits, some veggies, and bread, always include bread & espresso. Seen through his eyes it is pretty much of a cultural blunder we let things get out of control without establishing any semblance of food culture besides major hamburger and sir soda pop the size of a human head. While having fallen asleep watching Fed Up, as I feel like I learned so much on the food industry through my studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and I don’t consume sugar except on Sundays on our ritualized visit to the yummy vegetarian Indian cafe, I too see through the problem yet with a more refined lens. (Only saying because recovering from a lethal eating disorder through a highly restrictive diet and coming out on the other side, I have my own dietary ethics which are highly useful on a daily basis, yet not more or less so than what works for anyone else!) He thinks more so that energy in equals energy out, and that it does not really matter whether sugar or bread, but that you must do sport. The film says it’s all about the sugar, that the sugar is in everything and is what makes us fat. I am in between the two with this at the forefront of my well researched theory: sugar causes inflammation, strive for balance in diet and include as many whole foods as possibly to keep the body as a well functioning vessel, and the body will be more efficient and support your healing and health (as defined by you).
I used to teach an 8 Weeks to Radiant Health course and we talked about eating for the next segment of time and declaring how you would like to feel and that eating can support the body feeling well. While we cannot derive feelings from food (tricky territory, as in diet is determined by how we feel emotionally), we can feed ourselves well and expect to feel well as a result. A few weeks after having given up sugar, and I will say I feel tons better. More clear, less bloating, tons more present and uplifted inside. I get a lot of the sweet taste from fruits, natural sweeteners such as palm sugar and maple syrup and plenty of sweetness in the day through sharing meals and at work for an eco-friendly product company and co-workers I respect fully, a pup named Poppy who soaks up all of the nearly there’s about being, and a home I am coming to love more and more each day through it’s cleanliness and order. Sugar is for the, well, past I’ll say. There are plenty of reasons to cut it out for now.
A few I can think of, reasons to keep going sans-the-white-stuff:
1. Mental Clarity (Wooo!)
2. More Energy (yippeee! To walk outside in the cool fall air, oh my!)
3. To Feel Fabulous (yes, yes, yes, not YES, then oh no)
4. Emotional Balance (sugar can cause a bit of the up and down’s)
5. Yummy (better flavor out of foods! Not needing to saturate in things like soda or candy to not pay tribute to the planet and all of the natural beauty it provides such as honey or dates or figs or apples)
6. Radiance! Radiance comes when you feel better, your best, which is a byproduct of taking good care. This is relative, each of us does what is needed based on awareness of our wellbeing. I like to eat well to feel better, some people like working out more or sleeping less, whatever it is, going without sugar most certainly impacts the body’s ability to glow and detox in a happier way.
What does your kitchen need to be more naturally satisfying? Eating sweet foods grown in the earth, especially in the fall season, such as squashes, onions, carrots, apples and pears harvested, will calm cravings for sugary foods and keep the body in balance and the sweet taste satiated. Cooking with natural sweeteners to replace or instead of white sugar, such as palm sugar, maple syrup, brown rice syrup or molasses is a way to stay in tune and ecocentric in your foods, with more positive feedback from the body and less of a need to try to get rid of something. Think more about adding in ways to feel sweet, taste sweet and be sweet with sweet foods, beyond the sugar. Especially this Halloween, when temptings present and trends are revealed all around in the form of milk chocolatey, caramel-filled, candy corn things, a sustainable diet is challenged, only as much as thought has gone into what would be the best choice? How would something other than sugar be in the cookies and what else could work? What candy can work, and why not something like Pumpkin Pudding or Bread made with maple syrup and peanut butter? How can I help my kiddos be balanced as they amass candy this Halloween?
What can I do to be in balance this holiday season without expecting to fully give up on sugar? Are there any foods I eat much of which I am craving or is there an essential nutrient missing from my diet I need to know about? Such as with desserts, or sweets, protein is often the missing link, causing the amino acids in the brain to not relax, and dah-dah-dah-DAH, want something sweet. Try eating a bit more protein, even adding nuts and seeds to a meal or a snack for a bit more satiety and brain power.
One more thing is a resource for reading up on eating more close to the earth, or ecocentrically: THIS ARTICLE ON NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC! It features a tribe that I got to observe in the bush, while on a NOLS Leadership semester in Tanzania in 2000, we came upon this tribe, the Hadza of which there are only a few hundred of the last remaining true hunter gatherers on Earth, and we followed them on a hunt for a bush baby (baby primate as featured in the article) along with to climb a tree filled with killer bees (we had to stay beyond eye distance of the tree while they foraged!) for honey comb in which we passed around and feasted on both of. Read the article for more and what you can do to consider the impact food choices have on our evolution and the environment.
Much love, sweetness and blessings for your kitchen to be filled with wellness beyond sugar or in addition to,
Ideas for a savory but satisfying sweet food recipes:
My favorite and folks LOVE this….
Kabocha Squash Hummus
- 1 medium autumn squash (about 2 pounds)
- 1/2 cup tahini
- Juice of 1-2 lemons
- 1 clove garlic, very finely minced
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for roasting the squash
- Freshly grated nutmeg
• Preheat oven to 300°F. Line baking sheet with lightly oiled foil. Cut squash in half, then rub insides of squash with olive oil and lightly salt. Place squash, cut sides down, on the baking sheet. Roast squash for 45 minutes to an hour, or until you can squeeze squash and it is soft. Let cool for 20 minutes.
• Place the flesh in a blender or food processor. Add the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic if using. Puree the mixture until it is relatively smooth but there are still a few chunks. Season with a few pinches of salt, and then, with the machine running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube. After you have added the oil, stop the machine, scrape down the side, and taste the hummus; add more salt if needed. The mixture should be thick at this point, close to mayonnaise in texture. If it’s not, then add a little more olive oil until it reaches the right consistency.
• Spoon hummus into a large bowl. For best results, chill for about two hours. You can also serve it right away with pita bread or sliced vegetables. Before serving, garnish with a few gratings of nutmeg.