Lent, WI & Gut Health

Following my talk & demo on Women’s Health (for International Women’s Month) at the local Lee Green Women’s Institute recently, I’d like to follow on with advice for those experiencing a sugar-craving concern.

In the Christian church, Lent is a time which invites us to observe our own unique habits and in response, challenges us to adapt our behaviour favourably for 40 days until Easter Sunday. Some, I know have given up alcohol (specifically, beer), others reducing their coffee and now for one of the first times, I hear about reducing meat and also, sugar (or specifically, chocolate).

Since much has been documented about sugar in recent times, including Gut Health (& related conditions eg. Candida Albicans) it now feels relevant to share my blog post from two years ago, for this time of year 🙂

It feels appropriate to write about sugar substitutes at this time, when, it appears in April, that at least half the population will gorge and double their average weekly Chocolate intake in a single day as we acknowledge Easter Sunday!

However, for the few  of us who have essued the dark stuff since before March (feels almost like 1989…ie a long time!) this is a time for presents in my family, over excessive gifts of sugary sweet confectionary.

We love to Celebrate Easter in my family but since some of them are unwell, diabetic, on medication or simply seeking to not become unwell\overweight etc, we have universally chosen to celebrate rather more demurely, with small Easter gifts to bring great joy instead. I now like my new Easter\Spring shoes and Tea (which I have since becoming less interested in cooked foods, discovered an interest for, later on in life! 😉 )

For those who ‘shouldn’t’ have sugar (inc.most if not all of us…) here is a run down of the chosen alternatives available on the shelves…

  1. Agave – ALERT! I have rarely ever used it as it is a highly refined product (not a ‘nectar!’); v.sweet syrup or powder. I have found it to be a strong stimulant. When I recently asked the Store Manager at Planet Organic in Westbourne Grove, he agreed “it is too much” he stated; “it is simply too much for our system to handle”. Which does he prefer, I enquired {Q} “Date Syrup, Coconut Palm Sugar and Syrup…” He replied
  2. Date Syrup
  3. Sweet Freedom (fruit blend mix) Syrup
  4. Stevia: Syrups and powders (though still processed & refined) pref. natural state ground green leaf. Huhis ndreds of times sweeter than sugar cane or beet. 🙂 My Brighton based colleague grows it in his flat…
  5. Xylitol: Birch Tree sap
  6. Jaggery (conscious foods): I’ve never tried this Indian\Asian sugar but I hear from the followers that it is v.good, with extra vitamins & minerals (so they’d say…)
  7. Coconut Sugar and Nectar \ Syrup: 2 of my all time current favourites: for sweetness and the effect isn’t overly stimulating at all 🙂
  8. My favourite is: Yacon Syrup: I watched these being planted out and sown down out in Monkton Wild Court in Dorset many years ago on a Wild Raw Food Retreat I held over a weekend. These are like the gold of the tuber world! 🙂 Very nice (yet v.expensive in comparison…)

So if you are baking or making sweet creations this weekend (or ever) care to think about the substitutes which can be used instead of the standard sugar, which overly stimulates the pancreas, adrenal glands and overly numbs us as a result (not least robbing us of our vital nutrients).

I am seeking a healthier world view on all these areas, since I quit eating sugar back in 2003 and have rarely eaten it and no chocolate in general since Lent began. I am seeking also to find the best options for alternatives and to utilise them in my own and commercial foods. Less is most definitely, more! 😉

Wishing you a Happy Easter from Kitchen Buddy friends & crew! 🙂 

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