I really like honey. Like, a lot. I buy the stuff by the pail. No kidding I actually have a 5kg pail of Golden Rod honey from Clovermed Aparies in my pantry right now. Admittedly I do have a sweet tooth. As I kid I was the type to find my Easter chocolate and skulk off into some corner, hiding from my parents, and eat as much as I could until I felt sick haha. Fortunately I outgrew that behaviour, but my sweet tooth has remained, albeit to a lesser degree.
As my awareness of the implications of proper nutrition on both physical and mental health have grown over the years I’ve sought to educate myself on these topics. In doing so I have gained greater awareness of the detriments of sugar, particularly highly processed sugars. I decided to take action and began cutting items high in processed sugars out of my diet. If you’ve read food labels and paid attention to how much sugar is in many food items we eat, it’s pretty scary!
By cutting food items that are highly processed and packed with sugar out of my diet I noticed some incredible things: I had more energy and felt much less lethargic. And much to my delight, the levels of anxiety and feelings of depression I had felt on a daily basis for years began to subside. Perhaps you’re wondering if I miss those sugary items because, lets be honest, sweet stuff is pretty tasty. Truthfully though, I don’t miss it at all!
Not only do I physically feel better and have noticed positive effects in my cognitive function and emotional valence, but my taste preferences appear to have adjusted too. Now if I eat something really sweet I find it over powering and it makes me feel a bit ill if I consume too much. Further, I notice that if I start to eat sweets consistently (eg. over the holidays) I begin to feel lethargic and my mood is negatively influenced.
Please note that these changes do take time though. So if you decide to cut down or try to eliminate processed sugar in your diet be patient, as seeing and feeling the effects and noticing a difference doesn’t happen overnight.
Although my “sweet tooth” has changed, I do still like a little sweetness here and there. I was faced with the challenge of how to find a balance between enjoying some sweetness in my food and making health conscious dietary decisions. What did I do? Well, I did what the researcher in me loves and I hit the books, databases, and internet search engines to find the information I needed to make competent, informed dietary choices.
What I learned in doing my research is that there are many natural substitutes that can be used for sweeteners, including raw unpasteurized honey. That’s the key here: the unpasteurized factor means that the nutrients in the honey have not been degraded. Most honey you pick up in the grocery store has been pasteurized. So while it still tastes yummy, the health benefits of it have been significantly reduced or eliminated through processing. That’s not very good either! Thus if you’re looking for honey, try to find that which is unpasteurized in order to obtain the greatest benefits from it. Also please be aware that it is not recommended for children under the age of 1 year to consume unpasteurized honey, the reasons for which are explained here.
What are some of the benefits of raw honey? For more detailed discussion I’ll direct you to these two resources that do a great job of summarizing the relevant information. “Health Benefits of Honey” by Organic Facts goes into great detail on this subject. While “Is Honey Bad for You, or Good? The Sweet Truth Revealed” by Authority Nutrition provides a brief and concise explanation of relevant information that has been supported by scientific research.
In a nutshell, honey is a better option than processed sugars. It does contains some important nutrients, but more importantly it has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties which may aid in health restoration and maintenance. It is now well established that inflammation is likely at the root of many pathological conditions including cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and mental health challenges such as depression.
Thus, if consuming honey in moderation can not only provide the sweetness to food that I enjoy, but also help reduce inflammatory mechanisms within my body and improve my overall health, than logically it makes sense for me to do so. I will leave you to make your own decisions, but I can say that based on the evidence I’ve reviewed and my own experience, I am confident in honey’s efficacy.
If you’ve made it this far you’re probably wondering when I’m going to get to the good part (ie. the food). Okay, okay.. as much as I love talking science and nutrition, here’s a tasty and easy Honey Banana Oatmeal recipe that makes the perfect nutritious and filling breakfast…
For Oatmeal (1 serving):
- 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup plain oats (such as these)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp walnuts or pecans (optional)
- 1 Tbsp raw honey
For Honey-Banana Sauce:
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp raw honey
- 1 banana, sliced (approx. 1/4″ slices)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Optional topping ideas: chia seeds, shredded unsweetened coconut, natural peanut butter, cashew nut butter, etc.
- For oatmeal: Combine all ingredients except honey in a small pot over medium heat. Cover and cook approximately 5 minutes, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (note: if mixture starts to get too thick, just add a bit more water)
- Once cooked turn off heat and stir in honey
- For bananas: in a small pan add coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add in honey, then sliced bananas. Try to lay them all flat. Sprinkle with cinnamon
- Reduce heat to medium and saute bananas for about 3 to 5 minutes, flipping half way through, until softened and golden brown
- Pour oatmeal into a bowl and top with honey-banana sauce
- Smile and enjoy! 🙂
Please let me know if you decide to give this tasty breakfast treat a try – I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! #genuinelyjulie
Wishing you good health and happiness!