I’ve been wanting to write about this or awhile now, because it’s one of the topics that comes up in my conversations almost daily. SUGAR!
I know you don’t like to hear it, but sugar is awful for you. Sugar consumption is an epidemic in our society that contributes to inflammation in the body (the cause of disease), weight gain, anxiety, depression, a weak immune system, skin issues, addiction, energy depletion/fatigue, PMS symptoms, digestive problems, and it disrupts your body’s absorption of nutrients, messes with your sleep…and maybe most importantly, it lowers your vibe significantly. It’s super toxic! I know. Waaaa.
Bottom line is that your body and mind are NOT functioning optimally when you’re consuming sugar. It might hurt but it’s just the truth. Don’t you want to feel good? I know you do, or why would you be reading this blog?
That being said, keeping sugar to a bare minimum is a really fabulous idea. When I say sugar I mean white sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, organic sugar, raw sugar, evaporated cane juice, etc – these are all sugar and they affect your body like sugar. Most processed foods are loaded with sugar from high fructose corn syrup or other crazy things, so if you avoid the processed stuff and eat whole foods, you’re off to a great start.
Even without all the research about how crappy and poisonous sugar is for you, I always trust my body. When I eat anything with sugar, I feel physical anxiety in my chest, and eventually my mood dips into the depths of shittiness. When I see “healthy” products that are sweetened with cane sugar, it makes me livid. Ok, maybe “livid” is a slightly strong word, but you’ll never (seriously, never) see me buying products with cane sugar. I don’t want to punish myself, and I know it’s rude to my body to eat that stuff. I remember reading something Alicia Silverstone wrote awhile back about cane sugar, and I was like, YES. Me too.
Here’s a super short blog I wrote back in 2008 after my first stint giving up sugar. Pretty funny.
Ok, now that my rant about sugar is done…what sweeteners ARE cool to use?
Here’s my take on the sweety sweets sitch. If there’s something you don’t agree with or if you have another sweetener to add to my list, by all means, leave a comment and enlighten us…
The truth is, in my opinion the best sweetener of all is using no sweetener. Gasp! I know it sounds like crazy talk, but the less I eat sugar and sweets at all, the less my body craves them – and the less I feel like I need sweet things. In fact, recently I tried a stint of a full week with absolutely zero sweetener of any kind (including fruit, just to see how it would feel) and I felt really good. Things like unsweetened almond butter even started to taste sweet to me, and when I had blueberries again it was like a sweetness explosion in the best way possible. Now, I actually enjoy 100% cacao chocolate bars with absolutely no sweetener. It’s super awesome because I don’t have to share my chocolate with anyone, because nobody else likes it. Our palates are so accustomed to everything being sweetened…
Cutting out everything sweet may not sound like the most sustainable (or exciting) thing for you, but in general, cutting down dramatically on the amount of sweet stuff you eat can help you feel better and appreciate the natural sweetness of foods like fruit.
If you want to continue to eat sweet things, in the healthiest way possible that won’t make your body hate you, this list is for you! When you use sweeteners, just use a little! Start to train your taste buds to enjoy less sweet things. It’s a good move.
Here are my favorite sweeteners that are going to be more natural for your body and provide some nutrients along the way.
Raw Honey: Raw honey is so awesome! It’s high in healing enzymes and nutrients. Go for raw, local wildflower honey if you can. My friend David Wolfe swears by the stuff. Just don’t eat too much or you’ll get cavities. I learned that the hard way – my dentist always seems to know when I’ve been on a raw honey kick…
Pure Maple Syrup: You want to make sure to get 100% pure maple syrup, not maple syrup that’s diluted with corn syrup. Grade B is higher in vitamins, minerals and nutrients than Grade A.
Dates: Dates are like nature’s candy! They are so naturally sweet it always leads me to believe we really weren’t meant to be eating any processed stuff. They are great to sweeten desserts with, or just to eat if you need a sweet treat.
Coconut Palm Sugar: I really enjoy coconut palm sugar because you can use it as a dry sugar, and replace it 1:1 for regular sugar in baking. Read another blog I wrote on it here. Here’s the thing about coconut sugar though. Some people say it might be “the next agave” because we’re all so obsessed with it right now, and it might turn out to not be as healthy as we all thought. I’m super into it, but my advice – just don’t overdo it. Sweets are sweets.
Fruit: Anytime you sweeten something with natural fruit like a banana, it’s going to treat your body better than a refined sweetener.
Brown Rice Syrup: Brown rice syrup is funny because you can’t really use it for a lot – it’s super thick and sticky. I use it in this rice crispy treat recipe as a replacement for marshmallows, but that’s about it. Sometimes I see granola bars that are sweetened with it (like macrobars), and I believe those are a better choice than other sugary bars.
Stevia: Honestly, I don’t usually love the taste of stevia, so I don’t purchase it often, but it is a zero-blood-sugar-spike option if you want to avoid the above sweeteners. If I do get stevia, I’ll use a liquid stevia and add just a drop or 2 to whatever I want to sweeten. Unless you’re using whole leaf stevia (it would be a green powder or a concentrated extract), your stevia is probably refined. Read all about stevia, in detail, from the Food Babe here.
Xylitol: This a sugar alcohol and more natural than artificial sweeteners – so once in awhile I’ll get mints or gum that are sweetened with it, if absolutely necessary for the situation at hand. I wouldn’t recommend it in large doses, but it seems relatively fine as an occasional thing. (Same goes for other sugar alcohols).
A word on AGAVE: No. It used to be all the rage until people realized it was highly refined, high in fructose and not cool. Are there some types of agave nectar that may be better than others? Probably, but it’s not really necessary so I generally avoid it as much as I can. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal to have it once in awhile.
OH, and don’t ever eat artificial sweeteners. I’m talking aspartame, splenda, sucralose, etc. They are incredibly disgusting. I’ve said it before here, and I’ll say it again. Nothing lowers your vibe more, or is more detrimental to your physical, mental and emotional health.
Are you addicted to sugar and trying to quit? An L-Glutamine supplement can be sooo helpful for sugar cravings. Trust me on that one.
Ok! I know that was a lot….let me know your thoughts/questions!
Cheers to living the (real) sweet life, and feeling amazing while we’re at it.