Wow, this is the fourth week on healthy habits and this is a tough one! Reducing your sugar consumption.
Now although, my title says switch over to natural alternatives, the rules are the same. We should strive to reduce sugar in our diets, regardless of the source.
This was a real challenge for me, as I didn't realize how much sugar I was consuming as this stuff is lurking in LOTS of foods.
Why should you be concerned with reducing your sugar consumption?
Well, there are a host of reasons, but a few that will get your attention is that it can cause weight gain, can spike your blood sugar and insulin levels, which can cause you to lack energy.
Also if you are experiencing joint pain, (as I was) it can worsen your symptoms.
If you remember from a previous blog post, my recommendation is to reduce consuming highly processed food. One of the other reasons is because hidden sugars are in certain products such as granola bars, crackers, breakfast cereals, (yep it's there, even with so-called healthy cereals.) chips and processed meat and even BREAD!
I'm keeping in mind, some of you may be in different levels of sugar addiction from low to high, but here are a few suggestions for reducing sugar consumption as painless as possible.
If you are a soda drinker, switch over to sparkling flavored water with a splash of 100 percent natural fruit juice. Try doing this with half and half in portion. (You will get a hint of sugar, but you can easily cut your sugar consumption in half with this habit.) Eventually, your taste buds will adjust and you should be able to consume just the sparkling water without the need for the fruit juice.
If you eat oatmeal but tend to have a heavy hand with maple syrup or brown sugar, (I was guilty of this.) try using a reduced amount of only a tablespoon. If it is still not sweet enough for you at first, try adding natural sweeteners of using frozen or fresh berries such as blueberries & strawberries or roasted apple, which has sweetness but also the benefits of added fiber and vitamins.
My final tip is to switch over from highly processed white sugar to natural alternatives. Although these suggestions are still sugar, they are less processed and have a few health benefits.
Try switching over in limited amounts for natural sugar such as honey, maple syrup, date sugar (has fiber) and coconut sugar.
Remember, this healthy habit can take a while, so be patient with yourself.
Eat Good, Look Good, Feel Good!
Vanessa LaBranche/Chef Instructor-Culinary Educator