It seems people are finally starting to understand that it is in fact sugar, not fat, that makes you gain weight. There are so many different resources on this subject so I won’t go into details on the why you shouldn’t eat sugar. My favourites resources on this subject is the Hungry for Change documentary and Sarah Wilson.
After being diagnosed with celiac and cutting out a lot of different types of foods, I was starting to notice very clearly the effect sugar was having on my body. Within 10 minutes of eating sugar, my heart would start pounding so fast that it felt like something was very wrong.
Some nights I would lay awake in bed, eyes wide open, with my heart thumping loudly. I knew the culprit.
So, the sugar had to go. I threw out all the sugar we had in the house. I got rid of any condiments that had sugar that only I ate (knowing that Ash would never give up the beloved ketchup). And I set out to recreate recipes that had sugar in them.
Now in my pantry I have 3 different types of natural sweeteners that I use regularly. For me, they seem to have no real effect on my body. I would suggest you to try these sweeteners and see how your body responds. The only way you will know what is good for you and your body is to get in touch with how your body reacts to things and really listen to it.
With that said, no sweetener (even natural ones) are really good for you. Use sparingly where needed.
Here we go…
My Top 3 Natural Sweeteners
I love me some medjool dates. When I have no dessert prepared, sometimes I just go for these little suckers straight from the fridge like I did last night. They taste like caramel candy.
Medjool dates are the only sweetener on this list that actually provide some nutritional value with them the form of fiber, some vitamins and protein.
I use them in dessert type smoothies, like my protein smoothie and my chocolate milkshake. They also work fab in raw desserts.
Medjool dates are better than other dried dates because they have a superior flavour, are soft and are usually naturally dried in the sun on the date palm tree (no chemicals added).
Growing up in Australia, I never tried maple syrup until a few years ago. We just don’t really eat here, it’s not part of the culture like it is in Northern America. But now I am hooked. Maple syrup works best in cookies, baked goods, and savory foods that need sweetening (eg. BBQ sauce). Be sure to buy real maple syrup and not “maple flavored syrup”, they might sound the same but one is the real deal and the other is sugar flavored and colored water.
Coconut sugar (aka coconut crystals) is a great alternative to brown sugar, and can even be used in baked goods instead. Coconut crystals don’t have a coconut flavor, but a rather deep, earthy, brown sugar flavor. This is my favorite brand of coconut sugar.
It’s low glycemic and a good choice for diabetics – although if you are diabetic please research this yourself and make sure it is a good fit for you and your situation.
Coconut sugar is actually sap from the coconut tree that has been evaporated at a low temperature to allow for crystallization.
High quality raw honey is another option if you are not vegan. I personally don’t like the taste very much.
Natural Sweeteners That Are Not So Sweet After All
This list is my opinion of the sweeteners I would never eat based on my own research. There are always two sides to every argument, but I take my health very seriously and if there is any chance that a product I am eating is not good for me, I would rather give it up than suffer the consequences. Any product that is highly processed, like agave and xylitol are, really aren’t good for you based on that alone. But theres more…
Agave has been really hyped up by people in the health community for several years now. I too was using it until I found out that is was in fact WORSE than the evil high fructose corn syrup. The hype around agave is nothing more than marketing genius – “a low glycemic sweetener that isn’t even a sugar at all”. According to Dr.Mercola in this article, “They use agave’s royal pedigree to cover the truth that what they’re selling you is a bottle of high-fructose syrup, so highly processed and refined that it bears NO resemblance to the plant of its namesake.”
“Most agave syrup has a higher fructose content than any commercial sweetener – ranging from 70 to 97 percent, depending on the brand, which is far higher than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which averages 55 percent.”
Xylitol is promoted by many in the health community still today. I for one have never gotten on the xylitol train, the fact that its a white as white can be powder made me a little suspicious. Then I came across this article, which delves into how xylitol is processed and where it comes from (spoiler: its corn):
“Xylitol is a processed sugar. After being hydrogenated and having toxic chemicals added to xylan from corn or other plant material, and then removed, you get xylitol.”
And lets not forget the bad boys of the fake sugar world… equal, splenda and aspartame These are not healthy, chemical man made substances. Jess from The Wellness Warrior covers this topic perfectly in this article.
Stevia: I am still on the fence about stevia, having heard arguments from both sides – do your research and use with caution.
What are your favorite sweeteners?
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