If you’ve been with me for a while you know that I have a history of sugar addiction — deep, dark, scary, sugar addiction. For years, this wrecked havoc on my digestion, weight, skin, self-esteem and overall quality of life. I felt like a failure for not being able to curb my cravings and hypocrite for being labeled as one of the “healthiest” people my friends knew while in fact I was secretly dealing with my own demons around food and self-love.
It’s not new news that sugar is bad for us.
The recommended average per day is 9 teaspoons (approximately 36 grams) but the actual current national average is 88 grams for adults and 128 grams for children – nearly 3x’s as much as we should be having.
This overconsumption is showing up in our waistlines, in our mood, in our skin, and in our health.
Here’s the thing about white, processed sugar — there is absolutely no nutritional value to it. It is full of calories but of no benefits to your body.
If there was JUST ONE major culprit for the health crisis in America right now, sugar would be it. No questions asked.
When we were foraging, hunting, gathering, and trying to search for fruit and things in our environment we needed to be highly tuned into what sweetness there was because we really needed the calories.
However, we still have that ancient lust for sugar and the desire to find even small amounts, but now, in modern day 2016, we have too much. The system, in evolutionary terms, isn’t set up to deal with this sudden abundance of highly refined sugar.
So knowing that your body needs some sugar and that your brain is configured to search and find it, what healthier alternatives do you have?
Here are my top 3 favorite natural sugar substitutes & why:
1. Organic Maple Syrup
When I say maple syrup, I’m not talking about Aunt Jemima or even maple flavored syrup. I’m talking about the real, organic, dark colored maple syrup from trees.
It often is found in a glass bottle and will be “Grade A” or “Grade B.” Here is a helpful visual.
This maple syrup has minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and manganese so there are some helpful nutritional properties. Maple syrup also has a lower glycemic index so it raises blood sugar levels slower than regular sugar. This is really important because it helps prevent the high and crashes from sugar consumption.
2. Raw, Local Honey
Honey isn’t just a sugar substitute but it is a food, meaning that is has beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help make it an even more valuable choice for you.
The benefits of buying raw & local honey is that the pollen will assist with any allergies you may have. A study done at Texas A&M showed that about 80% of the honey found on supermarket shelves doesn’t have any pollen at all because it has been heated so much. So make sure you look for “raw” on the label to get all of the many benefits of this natural sweetener.
About 1 tablespoon a day is a good amount to shoot for.
You can put it in some tea in the afternoon for a sweet treat or use it as a sweetener while baking. It’s not enough just to say honey is a great alternative to sugar because the source and quality makes all the difference — make sure you go for raw & organic!
3. Organic Green Leaf Stevia
If you are someone who has severe blood sugar dysregulation, is overweight, or has diabetes, this may be the sweetener for you. Stevia is often found as a white powder extract but the good stuff, the real stuff, is actually green.
Stevia is a plant native to South America that is naturally, intensely sweet. When ground, it is the perfect whole food sweetener. I have looked high & low for the best quality stevia out there and I just found it — I purchased a 1 lb. bag of 100% ground stevia leaf from www.rawlife.com just last week.
A little bit goes a long way so not only will using this sweetener boost your health as opposed to eating processed sugar but you will save some money since it lasts for so long.
Stevia has zero calories and contains certain vitamins (A, B, C), minerals (iron, zinc, calcium), and electrolytes (sodium, potassium).
Do you have a favorite natural sweetener not mentioned here?
What is it & why? Share with us in the comments!