The Sugar Dilemma: Good, Bad, & How to Decide

Did you know our bodies need glucose to feed our cells? Without it, we die. Naturally occurring sugars found in whole fruit provide fiber for the slow release of sugar in the body as well as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

However, added sugars, refined sugars, processed sugars, or sugar substitutes are not the same thing. We all know these are bad, but the misconception is that all sugar is bad. We cannot attribute the same definition to sugar found in whole fruits, which are good, vs sugars found in processed, empty calorie, snacks and sodas which are devoid of nutrients.

Although most people know that fruit is good for them, they are still cautious, believing fruit servings should be limited due to sugar content. This is where sugar-free foods have seemingly come to the rescue. The reality is, “sugar-free” comes with a whole new set of problem causing reactions in the body. They are also connected to cancer, obesity, and diabetes.

We are trying to avoid a perceived evil while embracing a real evil. If this weren’t true, we wouldn’t see diet sodas lining supermarket shelves and fountain drink stations. Go to the baking aisle and find at least half a dozen sugar substitutes. Even “healthy” snack options highlight their sugar-free or sugar substitute ingredients.

As a raw vegan, I know the difference a high fruit and veggie diet makes on the body. I live it every day. I compare it to the way I used to feel when I was not raw vegan. Empty calories from snacks and processed foods may have tasted good but they left me craving more and feeling sick. Meat and dairy used to be my staples but they came with cholesterol, digestive problems, and allergic reactions.

Today my meals revolve around whole foods. Fruits and vegetables are real fuel without the negative impacts of sugar crashes or unending cravings. I have sustained energy, mental focus and clarity throughout the day and I don’t have to rely on caffeine or energy shots.

My morning smoothies are made with whole fruits and vegetables, complete with vitamins, minerals and fiber. My body recognizes these whole food ingredients and knows what to do with them. Eating this way is nourishing for my cells which translates to feeling healthy, vibrant and satisfied.

The raw vegan lifestyle, when done right, is healthy, easy, and sustainable. It is important to understand that a variety of foods must be consumed, and although calories are not the main focus, you must eat enough to sustain energy and function.  Everyone should include as many fresh fruits and vegetables in to their diets as possible, whether you go Raw Vegan like me or not. The best way to start is to talk to your health care provider and dietician to make sure you plan for success.

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