Christmas is less than a week away, and many stores across Toronto have stocked their shelves with tempting, sugary goods.
Sophie Takas, manager of Serano Bakery at 830 Pape Ave., is very familiar with the annual spike in supply and demand over her 25 years at the store.
“Christmas and New Year’s are the busiest time of the year,” she said, adding that her daily sales around December have gone up by 30 per cent.
Takas offered an easy alternative.
“Less [sugar] in sugar cookies is just as tasty as regular cookies,” she said. “We bake ginger, orange and sesame-seed cookies.”
Sarah Dobec, marketing manager and nutritionist at The Big Carrot, says her industry does a lot to educate clients about sugar.
“The natural-food industry promotes a diet of real, whole foods and recommends that people avoid processed foods and refined sugar,” she said.
“There is a strong community of nutritionists who work with people one-on-one and offer useful information about health and wellness through social media, websites and workshops.”
As an experienced nutritionist, Dobec has strong views about the amount of sugar we should be consuming.
“I think many nutritionists would argue none, especially if it is refined sugar. The natural-health community promotes the consumption of sugar through natural sources such as fruit, dates, honey and molasses,” she said.
“Refined sugar has very little nutritional benefit and can contribute to many health conditions, including diabetes, obesity, candida and inflammation.”
For those with a sweet tooth, there are many whole foods that are both sweet and good for you. Alternatives to white sugar include honey, molasses, dates, date sugar, coconut sugar, stevia and even applesauce.
It is also important to read labels before purchasing any product with sugar.
“Food labels help us understand the macronutrient content of a food (protein, carbohydrates and fat), calorie count, and the levels of some vitamins and minerals,” Dobec said.
“They list the ingredients in order of quantity, so we know what the product is made of.”
Lastly, she recommends that consumers make their own treats. That way they have control over their sugar consumption.
“There are also so many great companies with products that use healthier ingredients, including Live Organics, Sweets From The Earth, Shockingly Healthy and Made Good,” Dobec said.
Rachell Davis, a resident of East York, once had a sweet tooth, but as she got older, she realized the importance of healthier approaches.
” Sugar is great, but good sugar,” she said. “Whenever I crave sugar, I eat red grapefruit, which is known to cut fat and cut sugar cravings.”