Sugar is itself not poisonous or antinutritious. In fact, our brain normally needs glucose to be able to function. But glucose can be made in your body so there’s no need to eat big loads of it.
The problem with sugar is that eating it sets off a series of hormonal reactions, the most important of which is the production of insulin to help your body process the extra sugar input.
If you eat a balanced diet, this is fine. Sometimes you eat a bit more sugar and starch and your insulin level rises. Then your body digests it and it goes down again. But in an unbalanced diet (such as our Western diet), we eat so much sugar and starch that our insulin levels are always high. This can lead to insulin resistance, which can eventually lead to diabetes and worse. Short term, our high insulin levels lead to erratic energy levels, post lunch and dinner dips and an almost constant craving for more sugar.
Because the problem with sugar is mainly to do with quantity, we do allow some added sugars to be used during cooking. But stay away from pastries, candy, chocolate, soft drinks and other “empty” sweet foods. They are the main reason you are not feeling as great as you could feel.
And don’t let yourself be fooled that trendy sugar substitutes are better. Honey or agave nectar may be a bit more natural, but to your body it’s all sugar. There is some debate over natural sweeteners like stevia, which may be a healthier substitute to sugar. Our recommendation is to train yourself to like your food and snacks a little less sweet. If you constantly sneak in sweet things, you will never leave your old cravings behind.