When I was growing up in France, sugar came in the form of small rectangles or squares for use in coffee or tea. You would buy a kilo of sugar all wrapped up in a cardboard box which would, in turn, fit snuggly in a metal sugar box. This effectively kept the moisture at bay. As a teenager, I would come home from school and prepare a substantial snack to eat, along with a dozen of those sugar lumps that I would slowly let dissolve in my mouth. Heaven!...
It's a wonder I didn't become diabetic.
But I am hypoglycemic. For me, that translated into heavy sweating, tremors in the hands and general unease. It would come unexpectedly, I had to sit and endure the symptoms which generally lasted from 15 to 30 minutes until I ate something. I didn't know what it was. Just something weird that happened to me fairly regularly.
It was my future husband who finally told me I was hypoglycemic after I described the symptoms to him. We reduced and finally erased this (I can't remember the last time I had a hypoglycemic crisis) with a more balanced diet, but it took time and patience as I wasn't ready to give up my cakes, cookies and pastries.
Overtime, however, I was able to reduce the sugar in my diet.
First, I slowly decreased the amount of sugar in my baking (I am down to 1/4 to 1/3 cup of sugar in any recipe). Frankly, I am appalled at the amount of sugar called for in most recipes. Two cups of sugar. Really? Are “they” insane?
Then, I cut back on the amount of pastries and cookies I ate.
Then we discovered xylitol.
There are many forms of sweeteners and, unfortunately, none are a panacea really.
Some cooks try and bake a healthier version of sweets, but mostly, it means replacing sugar with the same amount of a so-called healthier sweetener, such as substitute 3/4 cup of sugar with 3/4 of agave syrup. Agave syrup might be better for you as its glycemic index is much lower than that of sugar, but it is still 3/4 cup. Other will substitute honey instead. Honey has indeed many beneficial aspects to it, but cooking does to honey what pasteurization does to milk, i.e. void it of all its nutrition. Honey is a no-no when it comes to cooking. Honey should only be eaten raw, and certainly not in terms of cups.
As for artificial sweeteners, I won’t even go there except to say that you might as well use rat poison in your baking. It might taste good, but it will kill you.
So what’s left? Xylitol is a viable alternative as long as you buy the one made from North American Birch and not from Chinese GMO corn. Again, quantities matter. Use less. Example: why put 1 cup of sugar in an apple pie? And yet, most recipes call for it. Apples are naturally sweet especially when cooked. Start halving the amount of sugar in your recipes in two, and then slowly decrease it. You will get used to it.
So, I still love my sweets, but I now bake everything from scratch. No mixes. And I use my good sense. I select recipes with fresh fruit or unsulphured dried fruit.
There is an excellent nutrition video available regarding sugar that talks about the very negative effects of sugar in the diet, especially if you are battling weight problems.
THE BIGGEST OFFENDER is, hands down, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. I’d like to say it was invented by the Nazis when they were trying to eradicate the rest of the world, but no, it came to us courtesy of the Japanese. High fructose corn syrup has made it in such a wide range of products that it takes a dedicated shopper to stay clear of it. And of course, it means you have to read all the labels.
It’s in everything. I won’t even start listing them, but sodas are on top of the list. It’s cheap. It’s effective. It’s deadly. As in: it-will-kill-you.
I did a quick search on “high fructose corn syrup origins”, and came up with a lot of websites that clearly explains why it is so bad, so I don’t need to explain as others can do it much better than me.
I have tried to talk about nutrition with my girlfriends in France, but met with strong resistance and the general consensus that “we must all die of something”.
I’d like to die of old age, past 100 years, and not succumb to cancer. I would prefer to avoid chemotherapy - not an option really, considering what I know about medical “care”, and all the misery and pain associated with cancer. Any cancer. But mostly, I intend to avoid donating my life savings, my house and all my belongings to the medical industry.
I will not die from eating crap every day of my life because “food is food”. Food as the majority of Americans know it is not food. It’s poison.