catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 5, Num 21 :: 2006.11.17 — 2006.12.01


The dark side of white

The topic of “just desserts” is a provocative one for me, since I am
trying to minimize white sugar and bleached white flour in my diet.
It’s not easy!

I grew up knowing that refined sugar and white
flour weren’t good for me, but I suppose I unthinkingly concluded that
they were neutral. Sometimes these refined carbohydrates are referred
to as “empty” calories. But perhaps they ought to be looked at in
another way. In their book Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon
and Mary G. Enig point out that “’negative’ calories is a more
appropriate term because consumption of refined calories depletes the
body’s precious reserves [of vitamins and minerals, used to detoxify
and eliminate them]. Consumption of sugar and white flour may be
likened to drawing on a savings account. If continued withdrawals are
made faster than new funds are put in, the account will eventually
become depleted.”

Changing my thinking about the role food plays
in our bodies has helped me. Food is much more than just fuel to stoke
the furnace inside us, producing energy, though it also does that. Food
is also the source of the materials that our bodies use to build and
reinforce these temples of ours. If we are eating only energy foods,
the building will suffer.

I’ve been reading lately about the
dangerous effects of ingesting white sugar and white flour. Here is a
list of problems that can occur over time as a result of eating them
(the two work similarly once they are inside your body):

  1. Tooth decay. Most of us are aware of this.
  2. Type 2 diabetes. The incidence of this disease is on the rise,
    and many in North America have diabetes but aren’t aware of it. Sugar
    and white flour cause a rapid increase in blood sugar, which triggers a
    release of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Over time the
    process breaks down, and the body is no longer able to produce enough
  3. Extra, unwanted weight. This is more commonly attributed to
    eating too much fat, but sugar is more likely the culprit. In addition
    to regulating blood sugar, insulin is a key factor in fat deposition.
  4. Heart disease. Does that seem like a stretch, when products that
    contain cholesterol (like eggs and butter) are normally vilified? Yet
    several key studies show a positive correlation between sugar
    consumption and heart disease.
  5. Recurrent yeast infections (the yeast feeds on the sugar).
  6. Hyperactivity and behavior problems.
  7. Bone loss, because eating sugar causes phosphorus levels to fall
    and calcium levels to rise. The two need to be in a proper ratio (four
    parts phosphorus to ten parts calcium) in order for blood calcium to be
    used properly.
  8. Other diseases, including kidney disease and liver disease.

Here is more indicting information from Nourishing Traditions (I love this book!):

As the consumption of sugar has increased, so have all the
“civilized” diseases. In 1821, the average sugar intake in America was
10 pounds per person per year; today it is 170 pounds per person,
representing over one-fourth the average caloric intake. Another large
portion of total calories comes from white flour and refined vegetable
oils. This means that less than half the diet must provide all the
nutrients to a body that is under constant stress from its intake of
sugar, white flour and rancid and hydrogenated vegetable oils. Herein
lies the root cause of the vast increase in degenerative diseases that
plague modern America.

Recently I read another quote as blunt as any you’ll find, that left me feeling punched in the gut. When it comes to sugar,

it’s almost as if the devil sat down and listed all the criteria
of a substance man could use to destroy himself. It would have to be
pleasing to the eye and taste. It would have to be pure white and
easily available. It would have to appeal to all the people of this
world. The destroying effects would have to be subtle and take such a
long time that very few would realize what was happening until it was
too late. The cruelest criteria of all is it would have to be supported
and distributed by the kindest, most well-meaning people to the most
innocent people.

So far the devil is winning. Did you ever go to a church cake sale
conducted in a grade school? (Bruce Pacetti, PPNF Health Journal,
quoted in Nourishing Traditions)

You may have heard reference to North Americans and their “carbohydrate addiction.”  Consider this:

When a junkie dies, known or unknown, is it ever from “metabolic
complications”? Of course not. Heroin is a killer. Junkies die of junk.
Even when a drunk dies, he dies of his sins. But when a person dies of
sugar blues, the mourners often serve sugar at the wake.
Sugar-poisoning is a word wedding that rarely appears in print.
(William Dufty, Sugar Blues, quoted in Nourishing Traditions)

Even if the nutritional evidence isn’t enough to make you want to
avoid white sugar, its history ought to. In “Napoleon’s Buttons: 17
molecules that changed history,” authors Penny Le Couteur and Jay
Burreson outline the connection between sugar cultivation and slavery.
They write,

It was sugar that fueled the slave trade, bringing millions of
black Africans to the New World, and it was profit from the sugar trade
that by the beginning of the eighteenth century helped spur economic
growth in Europe….  Sugar—the desire for its sweetness—shaped
human history. It was profit from the huge sugar market developing in
Europe that motivated the shipping of African slaves to the New World.
Without sugar there would have been a much-reduced slave trade; without
slaves there would have been a much-reduced sugar trade. Sugar started
the massive buildup of slavery, and sugar revenues sustained it. The
wealth of West African States—their people—was transferred to the New
World to build wealth for others.

Well, I’m convinced of the evils of white sugar and white flour. But
it’s not so easy to avoid them in this society, where the majority of
the food that is sold and prepared contains one or both substances. In
our household, we each, to differing extents, have a sweet tooth, and
we eat chocolate regularly.

Temptation aside, there’s something
else that comes to mind. I want to care faithfully for this temple that
is my body, and I want to act justly in the choices I make regarding
food. But Jesus summarized the commandments by telling us to love the
Lord above all, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew
22:37-40). To try to avoid white sugar and white flour completely would
mean to risk alienating those around me, and especially those I love
most dearly. So I find myself dealing with a tension.

acknowledging the need for compromise sometimes, it is gratifying to
realize that my family’s consumption of white sugar and white flour is
steadily dropping. My children enjoy eating porridge in the morning
(made from oats, or amaranth, or quinoa), sweetened with raw honey or
pure maple syrup, even though they follow that with a helping of “fake”
store-bought cereal. We keep a hive of bees, so have an ample supply of
honey. And we indulge in sweet treats that are unrefined. One of my
favorite snacks is half of a pecan tucked inside a pitted date. The
book in which I found this idea called it “Simple Pecan Pie.” Below is
another recipe we have enjoyed, that tastes great and that I feel good
about eating.

As I’ve made changes to my family’s diet, I’ve
begun to notice that I have more energy; I get fewer colds and
headaches than I used to; and I have fewer symptoms of low blood sugar.

Chocolate Pecan Pudding Pie with Nut Crust

Nut Crust:

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup pecans
  • ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • Fine sea salt
  • ½ cup dried unsweetened coconut
  • 8 large dates, pitted and chopped
  • ¼ cup coconut oil


  • ¾ cup milk (or soymilk)
  • ¼ cup arrowroot flour
  • ½ ripe banana
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 ¼ cup pecans, chopped
  • ½ cup dried unsweetened coconut


Preheat oven to 325 F. Combine almonds, pecans, flour, and 1/8 tsp
salt in food processor and grind to a fine meal. Transfer to a large
bowl and add coconut. Add dates and coconut oil to food processor and
process until dates form into a gooey mass, about 1 minute. Add dry
ingredients back to food processor and process until mixed and a ball
starts to form.

Transfer dough to a 9-inch pie tin. Knead dough for 1 minute.
Press dough into pan, covering bottom, sides and rim. With a fork,
prick several holes into the bottom of the crust. Set aside.


In blender, combine milk and arrowroot. Puree for 30 seconds. Add banana and puree for another 15 seconds. Set aside.

In small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate chips with coconut
oil. In large bowl, combine melted chips with soymilk mixture, maple
syrup, vanilla, coconut oil, pecans and coconut. Mix well. Scrape
filling onto crust and spread evenly.

Place pie on cookie sheet. Cover crust with foil and bake for 20
minutes, until filling is firm. Remove from oven, cool for 30 minutes,
then refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus