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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sugar Addiction & Scary Things!

Vegan Pudding

Oh My Dearies! I have to ask a favor of you, and that is to please read this entire post!? Please? It's important. I promise I will never ask you to do more than look at pictures and key words ever again (smile)...

This post is about sugar addiction just as the title states, but I'm not going to broach the typical realm of how bad refined sugars are for you. Everyone knows that, and we either choose to consume them anyway or not. This post is about sugar in all of its forms, and the addiction that a disturbing percentage of the Western World has to this substance.

First, I'm going to address what happens when we eat even a somewhat healthful meal that has the one downfall of too many sugars or carbs. Let's use something common like an 7 oz. piece of grilled rosemary chicken with a 1/2 cup of organic mashed potatoes and a serving of asparagus. There is also some bread on the table in case we'd like some. Sounds good and healthful, right? But, realistically, this meal will probably also be accompanied by a glass of wine or two, a soda, or some sweet tea. Ooh, and what about dessert? Most people like something sweet at the end of a meal. For good show, let's keep it healthfully sweet and say organic peach cobbler with a crumb topping. We'll even forget the ice cream that would most likely be on top of a cobbler at most tables.

The aforementioned meal has potatoes, which hit the average person's bloodstream almost like a blow from a candy bar. Then there is the glass of wine or soda, which is another pretty good blow. Ooh, and what about that piece of baguette we ate? This is not necessarily a blow, but it is a carbohydrate that will soon be converted in the system to even more sugar. And now we're going to have some cobbler, which has natural sugar in the peaches, added sugar to the peaches for dessert like goodness, and the topping has both sugar and a bit of A.P. flour in it. Sugar, sugar, sugar! Hey, and some people go back for seconds!

So what's the big deal about all this sugar in an otherwise healthful meal that has redeeming qualities like organic potatoes, lean meat, and vitamin rich asparagus and peaches? Well, to understand this you must understand the following:

When sugar, especially refined sugar, hits the bloodstream in large amounts, the body has to borrow from its stores of nutrients in order to process it. Insulin also begins to spike at high levels in order to help convert such a large dose of sugar into energy, as this is insulin's function. This sounds good, unless you know that large amounts of insulin trigger hunger. So this individual that has just consumed too many different forms of sugar by eating the above meal now feels hungry again! Eating resumes to satisfy the hunger and more sugars enter the bloodstream, but there is a big problem this time. The body's insulin was used up on the first sugar & carb laden meal. Hence this second load of sugar is immediately stored as fat!

Yes, we run out of gas or insulin. So not only are our cells struggling with high sugar and the damage it causes (see below), but nutrients are taken from our stores & insulin spikes causing us to be hungry again. So we eat a second time while our body is low on insulin, and we don't get the good effect of sugar being converted to energy this time. Instead, it is stored as fat & we gain weight! And all because our first meal had too many forms of sugar! Oh, and this constant spiking of insulin creates that condition we all know as insulin resistance. Our cells get so accustomed to insulin spikes that they stop responding to it, causing for sugar build up in the blood too.

If overeating, gaining weight, and eventually entering into a state called Type II diabetes doesn't bother you, how about the destruction of your skin? Did you lovelies know that the type of high sugar intake described above destroys both elastin and collagen? To blame is a natural process known as glycation, which happens when sugar in your blood stream attaches to proteins forming harmful new molecules called 'advanced glycation end products or AGEs'. The more sugar we eat, the more AGEs we develop. As AGE's accumulate, they damage proteins in a domino like fashion. Collagen and elastin are some of the most vulnerable proteins to this damage. Hence springy, resilient skin becomes a thing of the past! Of course, this is just one type of damage. I could go on and on...

So what's the answer to this sugar dilemma? Well, there are a lot of lines of thought on this subject. Some say we should avoid refined sugar and sugary foods at all costs, as eating them only makes us want more. Sugar is, indeed, addictive. Others will tell us to stay away from refined sugars, flours and things like white rice/white bread while also being careful with natural sugars. I personally am trying to cut refined sugars and flours out altogether while also being aware of how many natural sugars I eat at each meal. I mean, if I eat a handful of dates, I'm just not going to be able to have a glass of wine that day and vice versa.

I hope you will all consider your own diets and the damage you may be unknowingly doing to yourself. People who break sugar addiction usually rave about the positive effects even saying things like it was the best thing they've ever done for their health and life. I believe Michelle over at Find Your Balance stated something along these lines and knows quite a bit about how to assess and break bad habits like this.

No matter what you do though, Dearies, please don't turn against whole grain, unrefined carbs. Instead, eat them in moderation/small amounts and make good choices like brown rice instead of white while also noticing how many sugary type foods you're eating and drinking at each meal or snack.

In the meantime, here is a sweet that has no refined sugars. It's basic and quite nice.

Vegan Chocolate Pudding
1/2 Package Plain, Organic Silken Tofu
1/4 Cup Organic Cocoa (Green & Black's is excellent)*
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
1/3 Cup Plain, Sugar Free Soy Milk**
1 3/4 Tbsp. Corn Starch or Arrowroot
1/4 Tsp. Real Vanilla Extract

*A quality cocoa powder is imperative for good results here!
**If you use a sweetened soy milk, you may want to lower the maple.

Place all of the ingredients except the vanilla in a food processor. Blend until smooth-about 30 seconds. Pour the ingredients into a pan on low heat. Bring the heat up just enough to allow the mixture to bubble and thicken while stirring regularly. Allow to bubble for about 3 minutes or until it's a bit thick. Remember it will thicken more in the fridge, so don't over do it. Mix in the vanilla & pour into ramekins. Chill for at least an hour and half-the colder the better!

Enjoy your refined sugar free treat!

To my Rick at Bittersweet, I hope this post doesn't cause any dragon like fury. You know you're my favorite sugar loving elf 'round this here town that is the blogosphere!

*Info on AGE's taken from Prevention (10/2007), Author: Karyn Repinski


  1. Great post! This is a topic I feel passionately about. I quit added sugars cold turkey (sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, cane syrup, high fructose corn syrup, etc) almost six months ago now. It has been completely eye-opening and life-changing, like you say. My favorite part: fruit tastes like candy now!

  2. This is so true. I read something about sugar being addicting..same with cheese..also addicting and it makes so much sense to me. I agree with it 100%...I am trying to cut back on the sugar I've been eating..no more high-fructose and I gave up coffee ( I know, that's a whole nothing post about the effects of too much caffeine ) but I still do my tea with agave. I need to start using less and I am sure I will feel a lot better. Thank you for posting such an educational/informative post!

  3. Thank you Stella, for this information. I totally agree with you! I've "shared" this post in my Google reader so that all my friends can take a look at it also.

  4. hey Stella!

    great post! this comes at a perfect time as i've just tried to rid my addiction to pop. i've always been able to go cold turkey on anything except pop. pop is my one krytonite. put a chocolate bar in front of me and i can turn and walk away and never look back. but put a glass of pop in front of me and i turn into Homer Simpson drooling over a doughnut. i got so desperate once that i even tried just drinking club soda. sadly, it didn't work. so i'm quite proud to say that it's been a week and i haven't drank even a drip of pop. it DOES feel good! hubby and i don't eat dessert after dinner. we eat a lot of fruits instead and he likes to drink water with his meals, but honestly, we need to cut back on white rice. i love your suggestion on switching to brown rice!thank you for all this information on sugar and how it affects our bodies. great post and wonderful recipe as always Stella!

  5. I do a fair amount of baking with refined sugar but I really try to limit my intake of those goods to once a week because I know how damaging sugar can be. I love this post! So informative.

  6. I was like... reading stuff about health (I approve your opinion btw). Then... kahzoom! Choc-puds! Hahaha...

    Not to sound like a hippie or something, I think my best general healthy advise is to listen to our own body. Treat it like your favourite collections or charm. Cravings for sugar should be satisfied appropriately. Not satisfying these can ultimately trigger an overshoot of sugar-cravings... Binge! :)

    I think people should related refine sugar to black carbon on the corner of every commercial kitchen. They are practically close cousins, yet no one eat carbons?!?! Why?

    Love the choc puds btw. Perfect for avo snacks.

  7. Oh Stella,

    This post did make me raise my eyebrows a few times. But it is always fascinating to learn the biological processes of sugar. Lucky for me, I have low blood sugar. My dentist just explained to me how certain cells can attack your bone if plaque builds up. But yes, everything needs balance. And for the pudding, I must try this. I hate to admit it, but I LOVE vegan desserts!

  8. Hi Stella
    Thanks for your information, great post very informative.
    I always try to reduce the amount of sugar and fat intake. One should be aware of the consequences of a bad diet.
    Many thanks again.
    And of course not to forget, your chocolate pudding sounds delicious.
    Wishing you a great Sunday ♥

  9. Thank you, Stella, for looking out for us. :) Despite my sugar doused blog, I try to be very careful about how much of it I actually consume. I consider myself lucky to have had a french father who taught me how to appreciate rich foods without overindulging. Moderation is the key to living life to the fullest...running and pilates help too. :D

    Very informative post!

  10. Great post Stella, I guess this means I'm not getting any cookies in the mail? I know pudding doesn't do very well in the mail so I guess I'll have to make my own:-)

  11. So glad this knowledge is becoming more mainstream :) The more people spreading the word the better. I agree with you that grains (and carbs in general) are best eaten in small doses, they all trigger insulin release since once digested, carbs are glucose!

    Maple syrup has a low glycemic index compared to other sweeteners out there so great choice for your pudding.

    We've been cutting back for almost a year now, and it's been a lot easier than we expected. Hopefully your post will inspire more people to make healthy choices.

  12. I am addicted to sugar but havent had diabetes or anything from it yet! I do like chocolate immoderately; I must say your pudding is a great alternative though I would make it and eat it in a heartbeat!

  13. You definitely make me feel awfully guilty about the way I eat. I need to work on cutting down on certain foods including white rice (frown). Your self control is highly admirable.

  14. Stella

    so much great information, you really are making us think when we eat!! We have been cutting out sugars as much as we can, but you don't stop and think about everything else you eat too.....sigh
    hey and don't mind the key words...I'll be using them very soon!!

  15. Really great information. Its good to see this knowledge shared readily.

  16. What an excellent topic! I've drastically reduced my intake of refined sugars over the last couple of years and I certainly do feel better. But when it's somebody's birthday I do still like to bake a cake! Sorry for tempting you! ;)

  17. I do have a bit of a sugar/carb addiction, but mainly to fruit! I only ever add sweetener when I'm baking something, and I almost always reduce it if I'm following a recipe (and if it's my own, I try reducing it from what it was if I make it again). For the most part, the most sugar I get in in a day is from the tons and tons of fruit I eat. ;) And I'm definitely way better than I was before, but it was much more of a gradual process so I didn't really notice any immediate effect. But I do feel better than I used to so surely not consuming so much sugar had something to do with it! :)
    Thank you for all the information, and of course the delicious recipe!

    (As for the habibti thing - all I know is that my Arab friends spell it that way [habibi for males] so I'm assuming that's the right way to spell it. :P)

  18. Oh dear, you've certainly made me rethink my copious use of refined sugars (not a bad thing, but a bit of shock considering how much I use). Thanks for the suggestions, I think a small, gradual change in habits is on the cards.

  19. Very good post Stella. Lots of important information. My mother recently moved in with us and i struggle with her carb addiction DAILY! I cant seem to make her understand that she musn't eat potatoes, corn AND bread at the same meal..LOL I have at least managed to lower her carb load some by getting her starches switched to high fiber/lower net carb choices. According to her...I am the food police and a complete dictator because I succintly remove the CRAP she hides under the vegetables in my grocery cart!

  20. I thought I was doing a pretty good job avoiding sugar until I read this by not eating the "white" carbs, drinking soda nor adding plain sugar to foods. I also realized that sugar comes in many forms that still are sugar whether we call it honey, maple syrup or even fruit. Guess it is good to be aware of all the ways it sneaks into our foods so we can control how much we are actually eating. Good information. Thanks.

  21. Ahhh, you care about my health!!! The chocolate pudding looks fantastic--even without sugar!

    BTW-I'm THRILLED you dreamed about the chile pops! That gave me a good laugh!

  22. This is so true..and such an important thing for people to realize. Although I love baking sweet treats, I don't eat very many of them because I know that they aren't the best thing for my body. Naturally sweetened goods are much better!

  23. I didn't know the collagen info. Interesting! Well, this post makes me think of so many things. My mother and her husband just picked up 100 lbs of taters that a truck driver with a heavy load had to dump. Her husband is quite overweight, has diabetes, high blood pressure, yeast...the list goes on. They have been eating baked potatoes for dinner a lot lately. I was also feeling a tad guilty about my upcoming scone post. Normally I don't use white flour but this time I did. My son is super thin and a sugar fiend. I worry! I think I could cut out all sugar except for my wine. That would be a tough one. I don't eat dessert but I do like a glass of wine in the evening. Thanks for sharing this great info!

  24. Oops! BTW is love the pudding!! :)

  25. I recently spent 2 doctor-induced weeks detoxing from sugars & carbs (this included whole grains, fruit and any starchy vegetables, but I was allowed to eat non-starchy vegetables and beans/lentils if they were the protein source of the meal). This was one of the best things I have ever done. At day 4 it started sucking, but by day 8, I was fine. Now I have reintroduced whole grains and fruit in moderation (no more than 100 calories at a time), but still don't consume the sugars. I feel A LOT better and I find that I maybe crave something sweet once a week or so and usually fruit takes care of it.

    One thing you have to pay attention to when eating starches and sugars is what you eat them with. First, don't eat them with fatty foods. So if you want a piece of bread, do a lean chicken breast as opposed to beef. Second, always always eat them with a serving of protein and tons of non-starchy vegetables. This will slow down your rate of digestion, level out your insulin, and keep you full longer. And my general rule of thumb is not to eat them at breakfast unless it's a small piece of fruit--starting your day off with high insulin levels just screws everything up. Sometimes I miss my cereal, but that's okay.

  26. I think that it is fantastic you did this post - I had no idea about the second dose of sugar.. Makes you really think twice about what you eat. When my budget allows it, I definitely try to avoid anything that isn't, you know, "healthy" or whatever (basically I avoid pasta and stuff, unless it's just a small part of the dish). But I think it's fantastic to do this sort of informational post - it's good to have at least someone concerned about my health :D

  27. I'm glad I stumbled onto this post. I totally agree with what you're saying. However, are there any healthier alternatives for 'sugar' when we're making some dessert? My bestfriend bakes, and most of the time I give her maple syrup or agave as a replacement for sugar. At the sametime, fructose is fructose. How do you guys deal with this in making your desserts?

  28. An interesting post! Yes, sugar is death if not consumed carefully. Thankfully, I only drink water, milk, tea or coffee and have sweet treats only once a week. I always eat fruits, vegetables and control my starch intake.

    Lovely puds!



  29. Sugar is sugar is sugar. I was aware of the addiction but was also told by a nutritionist that all forms of sugar are just that sugar, and that some sugars have gone through more processing like granulated bleached sugar. So I think it's to say everything in moderation including moderation itself.

  30. Stella...I've been a sweet tooth from a very early age...and most of it came from great baked goodies my Mom made for us. The refeined sugars were always kept in minimal dosage.
    Now, that I'm in charge of the kitchen...I've managed to minimize even more the sweetness aspect. There are some sugars that are more dangerous than others...and with that said...I don't hesitate to moderately use maple syrup, organic honey (no added sugars) and agave nectar.

    All this said and an applause for you to have put out such a topic of reflection...I still highly believe that due to all the dangers that surround us on a daily basis...sugar is as big a monster as so many other things around us are. We are not immune and we are not perfect. A little moderation does go a long way.

    All we can hope for is that we make small important changes that permit us to eat better as we learn to do better for ourselves.

    Always interesting and thought provoking!

    Ciao for now,

  31. Sorry for a late comment Stella! Weekend is my time off but I promise I will come here as soon as I can! Great info you provided here. I agree that almost everything has hidden sugar we didn't know it existed. However, it's hard to ignore sugar, tho. Once in a while I just played dumb and ate whatever I felt like hehe. I LOVE your pudding version! Not only is it healthy but also easy to make!

    On another note, yes you inspired me! in the way that you're concerned on what we intake and organic food. Don't feel bad if you think you didn't talk about it much. You do! You're one of a few people who care and talk about it and I noticed it. That's why I mentioned you! :D

  32. This sounds really good, like a thicken version of the chocolate soy milk that I let my boys have sometimes. Oooh...I like Green & Black.

    BTW, just to clarify - you should get tapioca FLOUR and not tapioca starch for the rice bread. Tapioca flour gives the bread "chew". Happy baking and do let me know how it turned out :)

  33. Hi Stella,
    wonderful, brilliant post. I've always wondered why I'm constantly hungry. Seriously. I may look "fit" (which is a word that surprises me), but I eat horribly horribly bad. Today, out of boredom at work: a bag of Munchos, a chocolate ice cream sandwich, Reese cups, yoghurt, blueberries... AIYA!! And then dinner, coleslaw, stirfy veggies, some pulled beef....
    Yikes... I'm definitely going to have to learn how to cut out refined sugars lest I continue my downward spiral. No joke. Thanks for the love and knowledge. Best! xoxo

  34. Great post my dear, I love the way you are able to break down information to us readers in a gentle non- judmental way, I have cut back on our sugar intake consedierably trying to sub with agave, but I still need to quit my bad habits, I love your pudding, perfect for adding tofu into my girls diet,
    ps I always read your entire posts, (smile like stella)

  35. Great post and thanks for sharing such a great recipe.

  36. Thanks for the wake-up call. I count myself lucky that I am not really into sweet foods other than fruits. Must be obvious from my blog (usually all savories). Even for sugar, guess we all have to choose wisely. No refined sugar!

  37. I never add sugar to my soya drink...I am happy with the natural sweetness and freshness of the soya beans. I used to refuse cane sugar and took only sugar from fruits and grains. It seems that can sugar now is hard to avoid since I enjoy the baking a lot...and substitutes many times just don't do the justice and taste bland.
    You might not even believe that I didn't touch any chocolate before because the local markets were loaded with the sweetened chocolates...after I moved to Germany, I have discovered lots of good and real chocolate with 72% coco content.
    Thank you Stella, for this thought-provoking entry.

    Good Day!

  38. Hi Stella,

    Feel free to link to my banana softserve post if you do give it a try. I'd love to hear what you think!



  39. You could link to me whenever you like! I always love having the powers of a good witch on my side.

  40. Lovely post. And I agree! Moderation is key and making small changes is key.

  41. Excellent post Stella! Balance and moderation, excellent choice :)

  42. We must be kindred spirits of some sort. Over the last week I've been trying to greatly reduce the amount of refined sugar in my diet. The thing is I was starting to feel tired all the time. Reducing the amount of refined sugar has helped a lot. I feel better already. I can't forgo sweets entirely so I found a recipe for date balls which are really yummy. Interestingly enough, I find one of those really satisfies that sweet tooth of mine. Darn the sweet tooth!!! Thanks for this post. It really supported the path I'm on!

  43. Great post! I agree that most of the stuff we are eating has way too much sugar. Therefore in my cooking at home, I try to cut down sugar in everything especially in baking recipes.

  44. My favorite topic. You did a great job getting some attention around sugar consumption!

  45. Great post Stella...I am one of those people who kicked her sugar addiction and I realized just how negatively the sugar had been affecting me! I really had no idea. But I finally managed to end my love affair with sugar last year and I feel 100 times better now.

    The great thing is that I don't even crave it anymore and dessert has little appeal for me. I never thought I could say that!

    Unfortunately I could never get up my potatoes though. But I think with no other sugar I am safe. :)

  46. Hey! I want to suggest the book "The Kind Diet" by Alicia Silverstone (yes, from Clueless, hehe)! You seem like the kind of person who would enjoy her book, given this post.

    Best of luck with a processed sugar free life!

  47. What a great post Stella - while learning to eat healthy these last few years in my crusade to destroy the fatty monster, I have had to educate myself on this very issue.

    So reading about it here is wonderful because we really need to be reminded of this again and again so we always mindful of our food choices.

    I read the article from top to bottom :)


    Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  48. What lovely post is this Stella, I read with calm and is nice! and Im agree! I gtry to use only a bite of sugar in some recipes, and is really good, lovely recipe too. xx gloria

  49. Excellent post Stella! I had my 11 year old, sugar addicted daughter (who still loves the stars on your site!) read this. She has had a taste for all things sweet since she was little, and lately it has really gotten out of hand. Luckily, she is very trim, but she is becoming more aware that it is more than just a good weight that means you are healthy. I think it was good for her to hear it from someone else, other than me. Thanks so much for such an important, informative post!

  50. 2nd comment as I forgot to mention how much she likes the ribbons in the photo!!

  51. I love this post - the pudding looks awesome. I hope you will submit this to http://www.FindingVegan.com ~Kathy

  52. What an informative post this has been, I definitely have a sugar addiction. *siiigh* It's just so hard sometimes but this year i have really made a conscious effort to eat less of it. Though I know I should be eating even less than I am now, I plan on getting there. Thank you for the extra push!

  53. Another excellent and informative health focused post. I recall reading another similar while away. I enjoy the learning experience - and the pudding recipe is a bonus.

  54. Thank you so much for this information! I am working on changing my diet right now and can really use the info and the links! I came to look at your lavender post...and here I am still reading! ♥

  55. Thanks for all the information Stella - especially about hidden or naturally occuring sugars in what may seem like perfectly healthy foods.

    Fortunately, sugar has never been my problem - I prefer water above all other beverages, drink wine very moderately, and take very little sugar in my coffee. White bread has no place in my kitchen as I actually prefer the taste of wholegrain bread. I love making dessert but am happier to serve then indulge myself ;)

    My weakness will always be sodium *sigh* Still it is good to know the pitfalls so I can guide my family toward more healthful choices.

  56. Morning Stella! and kudos to you for this post! Yes.. sugar is one of biggest addictions as well as one of the 5 big no no's when working with an elimination diet. When I removed eggs, sugar, dairy, wheat and legumes from my diet, it was the best thing I could have done for our family.

    Now... I bake with naughty ingredients to serve others and enjoy a glass of wine a few times a week. No bread....not fun....lots of whole veggie goodness with fresh meats or fishes.... but I still do love to cook my fancy cakes and cookies -

    I also was just made aware that a fructose malabsorbption hits 1 in 3 people...... so many of us are unable to absorb fructose and we didn't even know it. Moodiness, depression all can be link to fructose malabsorption.

    foodie love from the north! xoxo megan

  57. This is a very informative post, and helpful encouragement for people to start moderating sugar intake. It truly is a slippery slope whenever one starts eating sugar, and a cycle that is more difficult than people think is to break. You did a great job in explaining this cycle.

  58. Oh boy! This is scary! Thanks for the very informative post! After spending hours in shops, reading the components of food items that I wanted to purchase,I am ending up making most things myself!

  59. I completely agree with your statements on sugar. I too have reduced the amount that I eat and try to go with the more healthful forms such as agave nectar that are kinder to our systems. Your pudding recipe sounds marvelous! It is very similar to one that I make :)!

  60. Stella, an excellent post. What about honey, unrefined sugar, maple syrup? Are they any better? What about whole grain flours? I'm avoiding wheat these days, and so I'm eating a lot of rye bread (easy to find in nearby Germany). Is that really any better?

    I visited a nutritionist recently who recommended that I not eat starches like bread and potatoes and rice in the same meal as meat. Vegetable protein--beans, etc--ok, but not with meat. Do you know why? Ok, I will ask her as well, but I won't see her again for a few weeks.

    Wonderful post. Thanks.


Please do comment, Dearies!