I think summer is the perfect time to wean yourself off refined sweeteners. There are so many lovely and naturally sweet options available. June begins berry season, and I already have plans to do some picking next week. For the U-Pick options in your area, peruse Pick Your Own.
Why kick sugar? Refined sugar is not a food, regardless of how much more "natural" it is than the packaged chemical substitutes. The process sugar cane is taken through to produce that white stuff we Americans are so addicted to is the same process that opium poppies are taken through to produce heroine. This is not a food; it is a drug.
Like all drugs, when you ingest sugar it has profound effects on your body. The moment your body registers that you've eaten sugar, it tells your body to fuel itself on the sugar and carbs rather than burn fat for energy (want to loose a couple pounds for the summer? Cut white sugar and white flour!). Here are some other interesting links on removing sugar from your diet.
Sugar picks you up and lets you down ("sugar blues"). It interferes with clear mental processing, natural energy, and normal body rhythms. It is unquestionably linked as a cause of diabetes (along with refined flour). It is addictive! The more you eat, the more you crave. Further, it does nothing to satisfy. Your body registers fullness on fat content and nutrient-density. Sugary snacks will only leave you hungry for more as your body will not recognize that you gave it something to feed itself. Before you reach for that sweet snack, opt for a big glass of raw milk first, or some buttered toast with honey.
William Dufty's "Sugar Blues" converted me nearly overnight. I literally went through my cupboards and threw away anything with any form of sugar or high fructose corn syrup on the label (ketchup, mayo, cereal, bread, you name it!).
However, I know for many people cold turkey is rarely an option. I had also just discovered I was pregnant with my second child, which was a large motivator for me. As with any drug addiction, it is the first few days that are the most difficult. For me, this is why removing everything from my house was a good first step. You will also need something to replace the sugar. Even if you are still eating far too many natural sweeteners while you transition, they will not give you the same addiction problems as they are actually foods. After you transition you will naturally wean yourself down to healthy levels of natural sweets.
For those not interested in cold-turkey sugar abandonment, this article provides great baby-steps towards transitioning sugar out of your life.
Challenge Level One:
Pay close attention to what your actual sugar intake is for this month. Write it down. 100 years ago the average American ate roughly 5 pounds of refined sugar per person per year. Now, the average American consumes 175 pounds of sugar per year. That is alarming! Read labels on EVERYTHING and make a list of all the places sugar is hiding in your diet (remember, look at the ingredient list, not the grams listed on the "nutrition" panel).
Challenge Level Two:
Purchase William Dufty's "Sugar Blues" or check it out from the library and put it on your early summer reading list. It might change your life. OR Read the above mentioned article on transitioning sugar out of your life and see how many of the steps you can implement in June. Let me know!
Challenge Level Three:
See if you can go the whole month sugar free. Gorge on fresh berries, substitute with raw honey, pure maple syrup, stevia powder, Rapadura, and Molasses. There are candies and chocolates you can buy - but still read the ingredients! Some of the alternate flavors use different sweeteners.
In order to help you this month, I will try to post a dessert recipe each week (or more often!). I will be catering a graduation reception mid-month and will be crafting several desserts for the celebration so it should be easy to share some of that goodness here (though it is likely I will also provide some sugared pies since it is for such a large group and I have not been asked to cater it in the Weston A. Price style).