How to Eat Less Sugar

There are usually two reactions people have whenever we are offered sugary treats:

  1. “Indulge.” We decide that it’s better to ask our body for forgiveness than to deny ourselves of the sugary temptations that will be all around us for the next couple of months. We promise ourselves that we will begin to eat healthy “tomorrow.”

  2. “No.” We guilt trip ourselves into saying no to all the extra treats offered and work to resist any temptations.

Would you believe us if we said there was a way you could have the best of both worlds? Because you can. Here at Amaranth, not only are we committed to providing you and your loved ones with fresh whole foods for you to experience a better quality of life, but we are also dedicated to delivering healthy options for your favourite guilty pleasures.

That is what a “happy middle” is all about. Instead of either giving in to all the sugar and damaging your body in the process, or saying no to everything you want to say yes to and depriving yourself, you can create your favourite desserts, snacks and dishes with better ingredients and indulge guilt-free.

The effect sugar has on the body:

First, let’s back it up a little bit and have a quick overview of what a regular intake of processed sugar can do to your body. It has been linked with an increased risk of:

  • Insulin resistance

  • Type II diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • High triglycerides levels in the blood

  • Mood swings

  • Anxiety

  • Confusion

  • Adrenal fatigue

  • Candida

  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)

  • Leaky gut

On top of all these undesirable symptoms, sugar can be highly addictive, and not only because it tastes amazing to most people. Sugar stimulates the reward pathway in the brain. Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. licensed psychologist, and expert on mindful eating, health, eating disorders, and stress-management says “neuroscientists have shown, using fMRI to scan the brain‘s activity in real-time, that sugar leads to dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens – an area associated with motivation, novelty, and reward.”

The more sugar you eat, the more dopamine is released in the brain. The more dopamine is released in the brain, the higher the risk for desensitization to it causing cravings for more sugar to increase your dopamine levels once more. Once you’ve entered that vicious circle it can be very difficult to ween yourself off sugar as it can cause disagreeable withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Mood swings

  • Anxiety

  • Sweats and chills

  • Headaches

  • Weakness

  • Intense cravings

  • Flu like symptoms

Simple Sugars vs Complex Carbohydate

Now, it’s important to mention that there are “good” kinds of sugar. Sugar found in fruits or complex carbohydrates such as sweet potato, whole grain bread, oatmeal, brown rice, carrot, bananas, and squash does break down into glucose in the body, but also come with a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that contribute to good health. As opposed to simple sugars that are digested quickly giving you a spike and crash of energy as well as bring you zero nutritional content. Complex carbohydrate take longer to digest and absorb which can provide you with sustained energy.

So how do we get the best of both worlds?
The trick is to be creative, pro-active, and organized, even for those of us who have crazy schedules, are always eating on the run and don’t necessarily have time to bake and cook everyday.

Set out one full afternoon where you can get busy in the kitchen to cook, bake, and prepare on-the-go snacks that are healthy and easy to grab. Freeze most of it in glass jars or Tupperwares and make some space in your fridge for the rest to be presented in an organized manner so you know exactly where and what to grab what you need for the day.

This would demand about a day of organization for a week of peace of mind around what you are eating. You could also use this strategy to bake/ cook in advance for food to bring at gatherings with friends and family so you have better options and healthy sweets to munch on, guilt-free. It is also a fun activity to do with your spouse, children, family members, friends, and roommates!

We love Sweet Monk monkfruit sugar alternative sweetener. It’s 100% natural with zero calories. Try it in coffee, tea, and other beverages, yogurt, smoothies and shakes, and oatmeal. Available at all Amaranth locations.

We love Sweet Monk monkfruit sugar alternative sweetener. It’s 100% natural with zero calories. Try it in coffee, tea, and other beverages, yogurt, smoothies and shakes, and oatmeal. Available at all Amaranth locations.

When eating a snack that has a high sugar content, pair it with a healthy fat. This slows down digestion and prevents getting a spike and a crash of energy from the glucose.

For example: a banana with a handful of almonds, apple slices with a nut butter, grapes with hard cheese cubes, or carrot sticks with a boiled egg.

It is also good to know that there are tons of amazing cooking and recipe books for quick, easy and healthy recipes to support us. Plus, who doesn’t like spending an hour or two in Chapters with a warm beverage roaming exciting books?

Here are a few suggestions:

Simply put: make sure your sugary treats or snacks have nutrition in them! Go for sugars that also bring you some nutritional content such as: dates, bananas, dried fruits, candied ginger, dark chocolate, home-made granola bars, smoothies, oats and so on. And when baking, use sweetener substitutes instead of refined sugar.

Now Foods Better Stevia liquid sweeteners are natural vegan sweeteners with zero calories. They are easy to add to tea, coffee, smoothies, yogurt, and oatmeal for extra flavour, or mix into your favourite recipies. They’re also free of common allergens like gluten and dairy. Find them at our Arbour Lake and 130th Avenue stores in Calgary, and at the Enjoy Centre store in St. Albert.

Now Foods Better Stevia liquid sweeteners are natural vegan sweeteners with zero calories. They are easy to add to tea, coffee, smoothies, yogurt, and oatmeal for extra flavour, or mix into your favourite recipies. They’re also free of common allergens like gluten and dairy. Find them at our Arbour Lake and 130th Avenue stores in Calgary, and at the Enjoy Centre store in St. Albert.

No time to cook or prepare ahead of time? No problem.

If you don’t have time to prepare ahead of time whatsoever or if you simply just don’t want to and still want the best of both worlds, Amaranth’s got your back! Come in and ask one of our staff to point you in the right direction. Our stores are packed with healthy snack options, frozen desserts made from fresh, organic ingredients and even frozen healthy meals on the go. From granola bars and desserts to soups and salads to snacks with gluten free options, dairy free options, keto options, and paleo options to suit any dietary restriction or preferences you or your loved ones may have. See you soon!

Phat Fudge is a delicious on-the-go snack that is paleo, organic, gluten-free, and has only 2.5 g of sugar per pack. There is a vegan option, too. Available at all Amaranth locations.

Phat Fudge is a delicious on-the-go snack that is paleo, organic, gluten-free, and has only 2.5 g of sugar per pack. There is a vegan option, too. Available at all Amaranth locations.

- Nino, Wellness Lead Arbour Lake store