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Sugar Addiction and Rapadura: Have Your Cake and Eat it.

By The Nourisher

“The difference between sugar addiction and narcotic addiction is largely one of degree.” - William Dufty, Sugar Blues.

For years I struggled with the sugar habit from hell, so I empathize with the vast majority of the population struggling with one now. Although most will deny their habit, one only needs to check the number of aisles in the local supermarket stacked with sugared foods - at least half - to know we have a problem.

My parents did not allow everyday sugar eating, so when we visited our grandparents at Christmas time, sugar and chemical laden ice-cream with packet custard was a real boon. However, the third “bon bon” lolly was always turned down with a groan, our tummies just couldn’t take that much sugar without complaining…painfully. I am ever grateful that my parents were strict with our sugar intake because it was not until puberty that I really began to eat sugared foods.

Expanding my experience with my new found freedom, I found all sorts of culinary wonders. I remember sucking instant coffee through a Tim Tam straw or four - shudder - during those all night study sessions at university. By 18, I had a full blown sugar addiction which lead into all sorts of other addictions (another story).

Next was the ultimate exploration of dietary boundaries, the quest into vegetarianism and veganism. Originally, this was a political decision, as it is for many people, based on my newfound (and half-baked) understanding of ecology and animal rights. Pretty soon I had also convinced myself this was the healthy way to go. Even when my Chinese medicine professor warned me my “spleen” needed meat, I was too stubborn to listen, while I chugged down cappuccinos and scoffed chocolate mud cake almost daily.

Of course, the more I avoided animal protein and fat, the more I craved sugar, and the more I ate sugary foods, the more I damaged my digestion and the more I needed protein and fat to repair it. Sound familiar?

I was to suffer much more before I came to my senses: a pregnancy filled with unexplainable pain, tiredness, depression and horrific Candida symptoms followed by a disastrous two day labour and my body refusing to repair a perineal tear. eeeww! I started the Candida diet vegetarian style. I was a conscientious vegetarian, rigorously dedicated to food combining and proper preparation of grains and nuts. It was just not enough, no matter how much plant based protein I packed away, I couldn’t keep up with the demands of pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Protein deficiency leads to cravings especially for sweet foods so I struggled for a year or so with food addictions. Bread always led to sugar as did caffeine, and Candida infestations recurred over and over again. Finding it virtually impossible to enjoy a vegetarian diet without sugar and bread, I finally began to eat more animal foods to abate my cravings - and heal my “spleen” (Chinese medicine speak for digestion).

I found raw milk products and bought organic meat. Every time I felt a desire for refined carbohydrates, I ate a spoonful of raw cream or a chunk of organic ham (with lots of fat) or cheese. Eventually I had replaced all refined carbohydrates with small amounts of unrefined honey, maple syrup, buckwheat and rice. I found I could consume home made sweet treats without addiction and I could easily let go of bread. These days you couldn’t persuade me to let refined sugar pass my lips and I very rarely eat bread.

There are many alternatives to refined sugar, one of which is Rapadura (a trademarked term for Dehydrated Sugar Cane Juice).

The Story of Sugar?

Historically, sugar was made by pressing the juice from the cane and boiling away the water. The product retained its critical vitamins, minerals and trace nutrients.

With industrialisation came new ways to employ less people, the new sugar technology was born. Now sugar was made by dividing the cane juice into two substances; ultra-refined, 99.6% pure sucrose and nutrient-dense molasses which was fed to animals. The sucrose portion is easily dried, stores for longer, pours easier and transports easier, making it more economical in terms of human labour and wastage. Modern manufacture of sugar from cane juice also employs a potpourri of chemicals such as sulphur dioxide, lime, phosphoric acid, bleaching agents & viscosity reducers.

housewife.jpgThis new type of sugar was marketed well. It was white, a very important colour to the growing western middle class mid-last century. To have white goods, white flour, white sliced bread, white gloves was the height of social success. By the mid 1950s it was considered shameful if your mother made her own brown bread or you had an old fashioned ice box.

Unfortunately white sugar - any refined sugar - creates havoc within our bodies and like anything refined, it is highly addictive. Once refined, sugar is no longer a food, it is a drug. And today, most of the western world is addicted. (One wonders if the supermarket chains would stay in business without pushing it.)

Rapadura along with a traditional Indian medicine called Jaggery, are the only sweeteners made from sugar cane that are not refined. They are squeezed, dried, and ground, that’s it. The juice is not separated, dried and then reunited with its more nutritious counterpart (molasses) in artificial proportions as are raw, brown and black sugar, demerara and sucanat.

Rapadura delivers vitamins, minerals and other trace elements as well as the sweet taste that all humans desire, and need. We have sweet taste buds for good reason. Sweet foods in nature provide us with high quality vitamins and minerals, especially magnesium. As long as we balance the sweet taste with the other four (sour, bitter, salty and pungent), according to Chinese medicine, we will maintain good health.

Using unrefined sweeteners like honey, dehydrated cane juice, agave, maple syrup and palm sugar will help bring your sugar addiction under control as they don’t behave like drugs in the body. However, you’ll still need a little help from your mind to rebalance your body’s innate desires. It helps me to imagine the amount of effort needed to grow, harvest and process the sweeteners I eat. Living in tribal or even semi agrarian society, how much time would be allocated for providing this food? I’ve estimated that sweeteners should be eaten around 3 times a week at most to replicate ancient food ways and I’m guessing that’d be best for my body too. What do you think?

Rapadura is made from organically grown sugar cane from Colombia and Brazil through fair trade programs. For this reason it is more expensive than other sugars which degrade our soils, our water, and our bodies not to mention the standard of living of the 3rd world farmers who grow the stuff. It’s worth it to buy Rapadura from your local health food shop. You can buy it in bulk or packaged, in chocolate (Rapunzel) or drinks (Santa Cruz soft drinks), even the Ozganics range of sauces have dried cane juice.

Use it by substituting 1 for 1 with raw sugar in recipes using whole foods such as eggs, butter, cream and other whole milk products, nuts, coconut, arrowroot, fruit and eat the result knowing you are eating a whole food. It tastes mildly like toffee due to the molasses content.

You can order Rapadura in bulk from Santos Trading. As far as I know, Jaggery is not yet available in Australia.

A Super Hero and one of many who have realised their true calling as saviors of humanity, healers of our connection with Nature and creators of Heaven on Earth. The Nourisher's gift is the re-spiritualisation of the 'process of recreation' we call eating. Mother of three Super Heroes in training and wife to her God incarnate, The Nourisher hails from the place of feminine healing, Byron Bay, Australia. She gathers together Life Creators from all over the globe at

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COMMENTS - 15 Responses

  1. Just a note about the sucanat. On the WAPF website it says: “For a while Sucanat changed the way they made it and were using white sugar, so we stopped recommending the product. But they are now making Sucanat the old fashioned way, so we can recommend it again.”

  2. Great article. Jaggery is quite widely available (in Sydney at least) from Asian food stores and some supermarkets. Have you heard of a book recently released called Sweet Poison by David Gillespie? It explains the difference between the different types of sugar and the evils of fructose. Interesting reading

  3. Joanne,
    Great article..interesting and to the point…sugar is a drug. When visiting Costa Rica, I saw the market vendors putting sugar cane through a grinder, rendering a sweet liquid, I’m assuming. I never tasted it, but it seemed to be popular.

    As far as the rest of it goes, including Agave and honey, rumor has it that there is artificial sweetner in some of these alternatives. I have to admit, I would be surprised, and I can’t vouch for the research, but it was mentioned at the last WP potluck.

    I say, if it doesn’t set off a craving, why not? Sorry I’ve been incommunicado lately, but it’s taken everything I have to ‘get off’ all forms of sugar including honey and agave, now only using Stevia, once or twice a week. Also, 6 months off flour too…which I’m informed turns to sugar in the body. As an aside, I’m down 31 pounds and move around a lot easier.

    I am most appreciative of the suggestions you make here to ‘get through’ the cravings. Everyone knows sugar isn’t good for us, but the marketeers have us convinced that “moderation” is the way to go. I vote it the biggest lie, next to “there is no global warming” that the USA perpetuates.

    Obama Rocks!
    Hugs and thanks for the well-written article!! It was needed!

  4. Thank you for such a fantastically written article.
    There are many whole food alternatives available for satisfying the sweet taste we have been created with. And sharing these with people interested in getting over their sugar addiction is so needed in this world.
    However, cane sugar derivatives are not the only sugar substitutes out there.
    A wise old dentist, dedicating his life to educating the world of the dangers of amalgam fillings, once shared with me his take on composite fillings. No matter how low the dose of mercury is, it is at the end of the day still Mercury.
    And this is the way I view sugar. No matter how you slice it, at the end of the day Sugar, is Sugar, is Sugar. Replacing Rapadura with sugar in daily life is simply substituting one addictive substance for another. The minerals and vitamins available in Rapadura can be readily found in a variety of other whole foods, that won’t affect the digestive system in a negative way.
    Sweet herbs like cinnamon and Stevia have been used throughout the ages to enhance flavour and satisfy that sweet taste- while nourishing the digestive system and contributing to creating health and balance in the body.
    I love that you recommended only eating Rapadura and other sweetners a maximum of 3 times per week, and using nutrient dense foods like cheese, cream and animal meats to satisfy a sweet craving when they do arise. In my own experience, keeping away fro all forms of sweeteners (except the herbs mentioned above) has been the best way to rid my body of fungus and parasite over growths and re-establish hormonal balance in my body.
    Thank you again :-)

  5. 5. Crystal Davis
    Dec 10th, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Great article! Thanks!

  6. I noticed the comment on the evils of Fructose, however, I can’t find anywhere in the article where it talks about Fructose … am I missing something. I am trying to radically reduce Frustose in my diet and am wanting to know the Fructose content of Rapadura and Xylitol as alternatives. I regularly use Rapadura but am not sure if it is helping my quest. Can anyone help?

  7. It is a little confusing for me as I have read Davids book, I think the best thing to do is just go totally wholesome, I just wonder about sugars all together. You can read so many different books.
    Davids book Sweet Poison correct in it he says you cant have any of the items you mention
    like honey, dehydrated cane juice, agave, maple syrup and palm sugar.
    I as a diabetic eat dont have sugar I have used dextrose though and now confused about that also.
    Definately no preservatives for me totally wholesome now
    Thanks for the read

  8. Is Muscovado & Red Sugar the same as Rapadura? I have my suspicions about Red Sugar.

  9. I am wondering if it is high on the glycemic index or not? What about the glycemic load? Lots of questions asked here and comments made as to whether or not it is a better choice. Processed wise or blood sugar wise… I want a “sugar” or alternative that keeps my blood sugars in the good range doesn’t spike my sugar… is Rapadura what I should use for that?

  10. I came across this article on searching for rapadura sugar. I was disappointed to see that you started eating “meat” again. Perhaps it helped your cravings, but that doesn’t help the animals that died for those cravings. I haven’t eaten “meat” for 30 years and don’t crave anything much, especially now having gone raw vegan and actually getting all the nutrients I need. It is easy to do and you don’t have to be responsible for the death of animals for your tastebuds.

  11. I enjoyed reading this. It’s good seeing others that agree with what I am discovering as being a healthful, well-rounded diet. Most do not, and you sure get looked at funny when you slather butter on grains and vegetables or cook with bone stock :-) Thank you!

  12. Can I replace xylipol with rapadura when cooking then:

  1. 1 Rapadura – Dried sugarcane juice « Eyes On Salvador (da Bahia) Pingback on Jun 22nd, 2009 at 9:06 am
  2. 2 Rapadura – Dried sugarcane juice « Eyes On Brazil Pingback on Nov 5th, 2009 at 8:02 pm
  3. 3 Rapadura sugar | Jdunplugged Pingback on Jun 15th, 2011 at 7:58 am

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