It’s a white substance, we can become addicted to it, it gets us high but also gives us crashing lows and it’s poisonous and harmful to our health! I’m not referring to the powder supermodels are sometimes linked to taking in nightclubs…I’m talking about something that children, and us adults, are consuming in high quantities on daily basis. It’s something we knowingly, and often unknowingly, ingest as part of our day to day routine to power though our busy lives. I am talking about sugar!
But is it really that bad!? I recently had a very honest and open discussion with a colleague over lunch about the direction in which “clean eating” is going in. There are so many “fitspirations”, “clean eating”, “gluten free”, “raw vegan”, “sugar free” and “healthy lifestyle” bloggers (perhaps you may include me in this category!) and articles out there today that makes for an interesting debate over the question “when does this “clean eating” cross the line into dangerous territory and may even become an obsession with food that leads to eating disorders, specifically orthorexia. One comment that was made was particularly prominent; “with all these different warnings and concerns about food, is the only thing we can safely eat or consume be water?” (or words to this effect.)
Is my colleague right? Are we evolving into a species that will claim that there is something wrong with every type of food group available to us to the point at which we are left to believe that the only safe thing to consume is plain old H2O (and only purified water, clear of fluorine and chlorine and any other nasties we may fear to be flowing through our taps!?).
My theory is that the way we perceive food is almost becoming like how we perceive (or don’t perceive) God, religion or spiritual beliefs. The way we think about food and the way in which we choose to feed our bodies is almost developing and stemming into a variety of cultures as religions have become. It’s a lifestyle which we feel best fits our beliefs and even our identity.
I can relate to this is massive way. I chose to be a vegetarian from a young age so as not to eat animals. I strayed from this for a few years but later decided to go back for more than my original beliefs and did it to reduce my carbon footprint, improve my health and of course be kinder to animals. This belief I had to become vegetarian was further fuelled when I studied my level one in Reiki practice. After reading many books on chakras, energy flow, simplifying life and mindfulness (I would like to direct you to Louise Hay at this point as she was a major influence at this time on my life journey) I felt that in order to achieve a feeling of balance and fulfilment I could do this by adapting the way I eat and what I ate. Since 2009, when I made this decision, I have embarked on a remarkable journey with my relationship with food. I have learned about new ways to cook and back and discovered amazing and exciting new recipes and ingredients along the way. I think the important message here is that we need to respectful of what people choose to eat for whatever reasons they believe is right for them as part of their belief and lifestyle, once they are not causing any harm or danger to their physical/metal health or any harm to others.
I am a foodie and I love to eat. I believe in balance and enjoyment as well as prioritising nourishment. I have been diagnosed with IBS which I believe is a result from years on medication for a horse-riding related injury in my right scapula, high levels of stress and anxiety following the death of my father and doing a Master’s degree (I am a natural worrier and I work hard on supporting this!). As a consequence I find it hard to digest egg and wheat which often leads to unpleasant bloating, cramps and many worse (“ah-hem”) endings. So I have adapted my ways and found fantastic alternatives to eating cake, pancakes, biscuits, bread and pasta! (I am slowing getting to grips with egg alternative like scrambled tofu!) I love my carbs just as much as the next girl and who is not on a crazy Atkins diet. I eat my rice and potatoes, as well as my corn and oats on a daily basis.
So back to the sugar… to be refined or unrefined? That was the main question of our lunchtime chat at work that day. To be honest, at the time I didn’t really know the answer so like any regular Joe I went home and Googled it! And what did I find out? To simplify the mystery in a nutshell; refined sugar generally means chemically processed, stripped of any nutritional benefits and just plain sugar highs (e.g. sourced from sugar beet)… and unrefined means less likely to be processed, higher in minerals and vitamins with still the rush or high we seek from sugar but with added nutritional benefit (e.g. honey, agave or fruit). And on a side note I also learned that brown sugar is just refined white sugar with molasses added to it to create a mellow, caramel flavour (but still has been stripped of any possible goodness).
So where do we go from here? I believe it’s about choice and balance. Most of the time, at least 70-80% of the time, I will strive to nourish my body with the best food I can, keeping it simple and wholesome. If I fancy something sweet but still want to be healthy I will choose the healthy version of sugar and reach for fruit or honey. But there are times where I know that I want a treat, and a treat is a treat, so occasionally I will have a bit of chocolate, ice-cream, sweets, a biscuit or a bit of cake (that is wheat free of course to keep my tummy happy!) and a tipple of gin or wine at the weekend, which are all made with the white stuff, unrefined sugar. As my wonderful mum always told me, a little bit of something you fancy is good for you!
Choose wisely my friends and follow a lifestyle you feel is best for you!
Emma (aka The Wholesome Bride) xxxx