Sugar melts in your mouth, and it makes desserts taste divine. We’re wired to want it. Sugar supplies quick energy for the brain to function and for muscles to move. But too much of a good thing can definitely make our health go south. Excess sugar – particularly simple cane sugar or corn syrup – can contribute to obesity, heart disease, lowered immunity, diabetes and even cancer.
If you find yourself on the sugar-train – craving sweet treats and drinks every day – it may be time to make some changes. The good news is that there are healthy sugar substitutes you can use while you’re in transition from a high-sugar to a low-sugar diet.
Stevia – Derived from a plant (a shrub native to South America), stevia is an all-natural sweetener that’s sweeter than sugar but doesn’t have any of its negative effects. Stevia has no calories or fat, and it comes in powder or liquid form so it can be mixed easily into anything. Stir it into smoothies, tea, oatmeal or batters for baked goods. You can even add it to homemade salad dressings that call for a sweet touch to buffer bitter flavors.
Xylitol – Xylitol, a naturally occurring sugar alcohol, comes from the fibrous parts of plants, fruits and vegetables. Bananas, plums and raspberries, for example, are rich in xylitol; but it’s most often derived from birch trees or corncobs. You’ll often find xylitol used as a sweetener in gum, candy and even toothpaste—in part because it has a unique bacteria-blasting effect that helps fight cavities. In fact, it’s recommended by the American Dental Association as an ideal alternative to sugar. In powdered form, it can be used the same way as stevia—a little pinch goes a long way.
When cravings come on strong
When you’re eating a high-sugar diet, your body tends to be on a hormonal rollercoaster of insulin and cortisol. To help with sugar cravings, try taking chromium, an essential trace mineral that contributes to normal carbohydrate metabolism, and assists in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.* As a bonus, chromium helps promote a healthy appetite.*
When you stop eating sugary sweets, you may crave them for a week or more, and this is when the real test of discipline comes in. Ask yourself: “Am I ready to become more conscious about my diet and in turn become a healthier, more vital version of myself?” If the answer is yes, then know that you can do it; you can let go of sugary foods and change your eating habits for the rest of your life.
Remember, having sugar once in a while, for instance on a holiday or your birthday, is OK—your body can handle that level of exposure. The problems arise when you’re eating simple sugar every day, or multiple times a day.
You’ll never regret letting go of sugar in your daily diet. Not only will you be preventing long-term problems, but you’ll also be gaining more energy, better mental focus, a trimmer waistline, and a much healthier, more spirited YOU!