Is Sugar Your Drug of Choice?

I have been quite impressed with the emails I’ve received from BBC Good Food recently. A few months ago they sent an email containing a link to the vegan section of their website. I think it’s great that they are specifically calling out and drawing attention to their vegan recipes. Not only to make vegans aware that they cater for us too, but also great that it might create some new recruits, even if only for a meal or two.

I am equally as impressed with the email I received from them last night, discussing the problems with sugar and how it can be worse for our bodies than fat. It is incredible just how many of our foods unnecessarily have sugar added to them. Since becoming vegan, reading the ingredients lists of pre-packaged foods is intrinsically part of any trip to the supermarket and I continue to be shocked by the amount of things that contain added sugar. When I first became vegan I tried to steer clear of these products, most of which can be made at home without the added sugar – guacamole, salsa, bread, porridge to name but a few. Also as vegans we need to be careful of sugar, as the cheap refined stuff is sometimes bleached using bone char from cattle. While this is less common in the UK, who knows what sugar is in these foods, so as I said, I try to put these items back on the shelf as soon I see “sugar” in the ingredients list.

The below is an extract taken directly from the BBC Good Food email and contains links to some great articles, including how to bake sugar-free using natural substitutes like xylitol, stevia, fruit and my personal favourite agave nectar. Have a read, it’s really quite interesting to see just how many other ways there are out there to sweeten our foods, baking in particular.

“Having a sweet tooth while wanting to cut back on added sugar presents an intrinsic problem – but our clever swaps and natural sugar substitutes can drastically reduce your intake. If you want to experiment with alternatives like xylitol and stevia, read our guide to sugar-free baking or try one of our new desserts that are naturally lower in sugar, like strawberry choux buns or grapefruit & mint jellies. If you want to reduce your intake in all of your cooking, our lower-sugar recipe collection will help, plus we have lots of advice in our sugar hub, including information on daily amounts and Davina McCall’s tips for cutting out refined sugars…”

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I was talking to the boyfriend this morning about adding sugar to things and how your taste buds become accustomed to the sweetness. We were discussing how if you remove the sweetness, you’ll become accustomed to that too and then things that are naturally sweet, fruit for example, begin to taste even sweeter and you’ll no longer experience sugar cravings.

The longer I’ve been vegan (and it’s only been 8 months so far…), the more aware I’ve become of “naughty” vegan friendly treats and snacks. Recently I was read a post by The Vegan Coconut entitled Hello Earthlings. She was trying to determine what kind of vegan she is – sometimes she’s “raw ‘til 4”, sometimes not, others are HCLF (high carb, low fat), but The Vegan Coconut still wasn’t sure exactly where she fitted in. Well I have become a lazy vegan. I started off so well, mostly eating only fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains – hardly any “processed” foods at all. However as the months have passed, my vegan knowledge has grown – I know I can get vegan treats in most supermarkets – and unfortunately I have become an unhealthy vegan. So now I am pledging to cut out added sugars, along with processed and packaged foods. As I mentioned above, it’s so easy to make healthy versions at home and this was one of the things I loved when I became vegan. You can expect to see me taking my own advice and follow along if you like. I’ll keep you up to date with my progress and of course I’ll share my recipes with you!

I’m interested to know thoughts on sugar? Are you an addict? Or are you the opposite and cut it out altogether? Let me know your thoughts and maybe we can go cold turkey together!

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