By Jackie Scrivanich, Contributing Writer
Being a mother has made me reevaluate the things we do in our home. One of those things is to really take a good look at the food we eat and the beverages we drink on a regular basis.
It was easy to rid our home of things like soda and candy, but it took me a while to realize that sugar was hiding in a lot more than just those obvious things. A few months ago I was at the deli ordering lunch meat and I happened to see the ingredients for the lunch meat. I would have never have guessed but there was sugar in the lunch meat! Can you believe that?! It is also in many of the baby snacks they have on the market.
After this, I became a better sugar detective. I learned how to read labels and identify the different names that sugar has. It is a tricky little substance and is hiding in most of our food.
Why is Sugar so Bad?
Sugar seems to be the newest food being victimized, but it is for good reason!
Sugar is Highly Addictive
Your body craves sugar the more you feed it. I definitely find this is true for me! When I give into my sugar cravings, I just have another one within a few hours. A recent study shows that sugar is as addictive as drugs like cocaine, possibly more so. Even just the process of detoxing from sugar causes irritability, cravings, and headaches.
Excess Sugar is the Cause of Many Ailments Like Obesity, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Cancer, and More
Our culture consumes more sugar in one day then they did in an entire year only a few hundred years ago. Sugar is not beneficial for our bodies and yet it is in just about everything.
Sugar Makes Your Brain Feel Good As it Mimics “Feel Good” Chemicals in Your Brain, but it Actually Causes You to Lose Energy
The energy perks are short-lived and come with a crash. My toddler, on the occasion that he gets sugar, tends to crash hard. He makes poor choices, cannot concentrate or focus regularly, and is all around uncooperative.
What Should I Use Instead
There are many alternatives to the normal white cane sugar we are all used to. Some of these alternatives may actually be more harmful than sugar itself!
Alternatives like sucralose (Splenda) and aspertame (Equal) are dangerous. They are known as artificial sweeteners. They are a chemical cocktail that may harm you over time. Products that claim to be sugar-free or low in sugar often have these substitutes in them. Also, many diet soda products will have them as well. Look at the labels so you know what you are putting in your body.
Image by Moyan Brenn
Are There Natural Sugar Alternatives?
Of course there are! There are many different options out there. They all taste different and many people prefer certain ones over others.
Six Natural Sugar Alternatives
This is a healthy alternative to sugar. Xylitol is naturally found in fibrous fruits and vegetables, corn cobs, and some hardwood trees.
This is made from the leaves of the stevia plant. This substitute has no carbs and no calories. Easily usable for day to day things like tea.
This substitute is made from dehydrated, ground dates. This is a great substitute for brown sugar.
When the sap from the coconut is heated it, the water in it evaporates leaving useable sugar granules. Coconut sugar is an easy substitute for cane sugar.
Often you can buy this locally. Honey is a fantastic substitute for sugar in things like tea and even in baking.
Get this one locally as well, if you can. Maple Syrup has many benefits as well as being a good sugar substitute.
Using these natural sugar alternatives is simple really. For example, one of the favorite breakfast options is plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, like strawberries, and a little bit of stevia.
Take the time to look at what is in your food so you can make better decisions for your health. Also, find a few natural sugar alternatives that you enjoy and keep them readily available in your home. I often keep a few packets of stevia in my purse for when I am out and someone wants to grab a tea. This way I can still enjoy myself, but in a healthy way.
Which of These Natural Sugar Alternatives is Your Favorite? Which Would You Add to This List?