Most of us love sweet things. It seems to be an inclination we come out of the womb with, and, indeed, there is some evidence it is a survival instinct based on the assumption that sweet tasting things are less likely to be toxic to us.
Unfortunately, we now know that sugar is very bad for us. It used to be we thought it was just a problem for diabetics, or those at risk for diabetes. But now we know that it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and obesity too!
Now, I am not talking about the sugar you get from whole foods like fruit, I am focusing on added sugars and sweeteners. A big misconception is that if it is ‘natural’ its okay. This is not the case. Sure, white sugar and high fructose corn syrup are pure junk, but the unfortunate reality is that the link with chronic illness is due to insulin and blood sugar spikes and you still get this from organic sugar, sucanat, agave, honey, maple syrup. brown rice syrup and evaporated cane syrup. Don’t fall victim to sneaky marketing strategies. Giving sugar a fancy name doesn’t make it any healthier!
The good news is that there are healthier sweeteners out there such as coconut sugar, xylitol, erythritol, stevia and monk fruit.
Health experts suggest the best thing is for all of us to get used to the natural sweetness of foods and stop using sweeteners altogether. I agree…but I’m not there yet! I do need something in my coffee and its not going to be pureed mango or dates! Nevertheless, sometimes a sweet craving can be satisfied simply, and here are some of my favorite ways to do it:
– Apple slices (sample different varieties to find your favorite!).
– Roasted, sautéed or stewed fruit (peaches, pears, plums, etc.) with cinnamon and/or other spices.
– Add fresh or chopped dried fruit to salads, quinoa dishes, curries, etc.
– Sprinkle cinnamon, ginger and/or other sweet/warm spices on food.
– Replace some or all of the butter/oil in baked goods with mashed banana, pureed mango, pineapple or apple sauce.
– Skip pop, juice and sweetened beverages and drink water. If a slice of lemon or orange isn’t enough, add a few drops of flavoured stevia liquid.
If I have to ‘up the ante’ and make something truly indulgent, I always use one of the sweeteners I mentioned above. Powdered erythritol makes amazing frostings. Coconut sugar has an incredible, indulgent, caramel flavour. Make any of the jams or spreads on the site for a low calorie, sugar-free treat.
Just remember, there are so many reasons to give up sugar (and refined flour, which has the same negative health effects!), we should all be looking at ways to cut down. Give yourself time to try different alternatives, and even different brands of each type of sweetener, before you decide if you like it. It can take up to 10 weeks for our taste buds to adjust to a new taste.