Hungry Haley

it's more than food

The Sugar Experiment: Update

Haley HansenComment

Hello! If you didn't read my last post, here's a little summary: 

I'm testing out my own version of a sugar-detox. Why? Because I want to see how processed sugars - agave, coconut sugar, turbinado sugar, cane sugar, etc. - affect my body. Just about every sugar-detox article I found told me to cut out all fruits, veggies, and starches (including grains and beans) and replace them with meat, dairy, fish, etc. NOPE. Why would I do that? Sure, sugar (I'm speaking generally here) isn't the best for you, but aren't animal products loaded with fat and cholesterol worse? YEPP. 

That being said, it's been two days since I began this and I'm coming to some realizations...

  1. This experiment really sounds more like a transition to whole, plant-based foods - a transition I've half-way completed - than a sugar-detox, though I'm still eating some slightly refined grains like Ezekiel bread/tortillas, whole-grain sourdough bread, and whole-grain pasta. I LOVE sourdough bread and have never felt adverse side effects after eating it. If you're curious about what makes sourdough bread and the Ezekiel stuff so special click on those words.
  2. Manufacturers add sugar to so many foods - sweet chili sauce, almond milk, some rice cakes and bread, and the list goes on. I just bought five boxes some of the healthiest cereals I could find, and even Weetabix has a tiny bit of cane sugar. My favorite weeknight dessert - Clif Bars - are relatively healthy, as they're made with all organic ingredients like brown rice crisps, soy protein, and rolled oats, but the company still adds brown rice syrup in addition to the date paste to keep the bars sweet. Ugh. 
  3. When it came to cravings, I found that I sometimes no longer craved dessert at all when I remembered that my go-to's have added sugar. For example, I'd look forward to a late-night Clif Bar or scoop of Ben & Jerry's almond milk pints, remind myself of the sugar content and think of alternatives, and then feel my appetite disappear when the only thing I had on hand was plain dates. Additionally, I noticed that, on days when I hadn't gotten enough sleep the night before, I thought about sugary foods more often and had a bigger appetite in general. Read more here about how sleep and the hunger hormone, leptin, work together to control appetite.

As each day passes, especially today, I consider cutting this experiment down to one week instead of two. Why? Because, as I and a few of my followers have pointed out, this is basically more of a focus on whole foods than a sugar cleanse, which is fine, but I don't eat much processed sugar anyway. I considered more about what could come from this experiment - what I could learn and what I could demonstrate for others - and, if anything, I just want this to prove (as many other vegans already have) that eating natural sugars/starches, like those from whole fruits, veggies, beans, and grains, doesn't adversely affect health. 

Bottom line: not all sugar acts the same in our bodies! Think about it - how could the untouched fructose (not to mention loads of other macro- and micronutrients) in bananas, sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans, and apples (among others) work identical to highly refined white powdered sugar sprinkled on brownies and cakes and lemon bars in our bodies if they look nothing alike outside of it? 

Calories are NOT created equally, and that includes sugar. I'm listening to an interview with Dr. Mark Hyman as he speaks about all things health, and noticing again that few people of influence in the health field make clear distinctions when it comes to sugar. Dr. Hyman condemned sweet breakfast cereals, and rightfully so, but didn't remind us that sugar from whole, plant-based foods - I'll say that again: whole, plant-based foods - is different. It's okay. It's HEALTHY, with a capital H E A L T H Y. 

Again, if you have any questions, opposing or agreeing comments, links to articles, etc. leave them below! This can be a learning experience for so many of us. See you in a few days! Until then, keep up with me on Instagram - @hungryhaley - and tag #hungryhaley to show me any of your re-creations :)