You can’t eat this, or that, or that or that or that….
You know how traditional nutrition goes. As I wave my finger at you and forbid you to ever look at a piece of chocolate again, let alone have a slice of cake.
The good news is, I’ve clearly laid out what sugar substitutes you should and can use, without guilt, and maybe some that you should leave in the dust.
If you’re short on time, I’ve put together a free guide on the best sugar substitutes, along with a few of my favorite bloggers healthy baking tips, sugar conversions and my favorite holiday cookie recipe (exclusive recipe ALERT). Click below to download it now.
In a hurry? Get my free download sent to your inbox
the ultimate healthy sugar guide
THE TRUTH ABOUT SUGAR
The reality is that we live in real life and sometimes real life means having something sweet. The problem is, we have put such a negative association on sugar that people have come to fear it, try their best to avoid it and end up binging on it. We’ve created our own internal monster from sugar which has created a true and scientific cascade that, in some cases, puts on the pounds simply by looking at it.
The morbid truth, we’ve put such a high emotion on food that it is killing us, or at least making us more unhealthy than we’d like. You know the mentality, “but I deserve it”, “just once”, “everyone else is doing it”, “I’ll just do it and nobody will have to know”, “today was just so stressful”, “but it’s my birthday”. On and on the list goes. We’ve created a mental monster that makes us giddy – nervous like right before your first kiss all the way back in middle school which releases excess cortisol and insulin in preparation for your big binge, only leaving you in fat-storing mode.
This all creates the perfect storm.
So instead of living in awful fear, deprivation and overwhelm deciding if you should eat this or not that, lets just cut to the chase and get the down and dirty on sugar.
Yes, by all means our society eats WAY TOO much sugar. That is a proven fact. Yes, sugar is more addictive than some hard drugs. Yes, sugar seems to be in everything. Yes, it is hard to avoid. Yes, it can be the root of almost all disease processes. Yes, sugar can and does cause fat production.
But sugar is not the devil, we’ve just made it that.
In reality, a little sugar isn’t going to kill us. Especially if we let go of the emotion and do it out of pure enjoyment and in small doses. Hence why we generally call them a treat, which has turned into needing treats constantly throughout the day. A treat by definition is a once-in-a-while occurrence.
If you can do that, cut the emotion and enjoy good food I think you could have a winning combination of a life long journey of satiety, happiness and darn good food.
IS IT ALL CREATED EQUAL?
Now that we just broke down that door and got real with one another, lets cut to the science. Technically sugar is sugar, buuuuut not all sugar is created equal. I think some are superior to others and as always, real food wins every time.
So lets just break up with the abusive boyfriend right now.
Artificial sugar is NOT your friend, and as recent studies show, it seriously could be killing you. This includes sugars like aspartame and sucralose which are most commonly used. That my friends means that you should absolutely get rid of the artificial sugar binge, thinking that it isn’t that harmful considering it has zero calories (stop lying to yourself) and own up to the fact that studies are showing negative association after negative association.
I’m going out on a limb, not to tell you that pop or soda is okay but that regular is DEFINITELY better than diet.
Go ahead cry, sob whatever you need to do and move on. The other side is better.
Now that we got that out of the way you may be wondering what in the world you should be using.
WHAT SUGAR SUBSTITUTES TO USE
There are those sweeteners that I highly prefer over others. Some of them even having some health benefits, although I don’t ever think I’d consider them super-foods, but sure enough some sugars do have nutrients.
You can check out my full guide on what sugar substitutes to use, what kinds to buy and the perfect conversions for any recipe by clicking the image below to download now. There is even a cheat sheet that you can print and keep on hand for all the deetz on swapping sugars in recipes.
Get my best tips for swapping healthy sugars with my
ultimate healthy sugar guide
Once you download that, you can keep reading to get even more of the nerdy science.
- HONEY – Closest to being the super-sweet superfood we’ve all been longing for. Honey actually contains quite a few nutritious properties including; containing enzymes, other proteins, trace minerals, flavonoids and other polyphenols. Some even say that honey is a functional food with uniquely beneficial physiological effects. Take note, you want to make sure and buy local, raw honey if possible and the darker the color the more nutrient rich it is.
- MAPLE SYRUP – Natures tree candy coming from the sweet maples, this sugar too has been found to contain certain enzymes, trace minerals and other nutrients. Although none have been found to have a substantial impact on overall nutrient profile. Make sure you are buying 100% pure maple syrup that is either grade A or B.
- BLACKSTRAP MOLASSES – This is the thick byproduct that is left over from the processing of sugarcane into sugar. It is slightly bitter in flavor and is dark and syrupy but just as maple syrup has been found to have some nutritional benefits such as a manganese, copper, and iron. It is often found replacing brown sugar in recipes.
- SORGHUM – Probably the most unusual of sugars, it is also one of my favorites. Similar to molasses yet richer in flavor and less bitter, sorghum comes from the sorghum plant. It is the juice from the plant boiled into syrupy consistency. It contains sources of minerals like manganese, B-vitamins as well as iron, calcium and potassium. You can check out more information from a previous post and my favorite sweet recipe here.
- COCONUT SUGAR – One of the newest “natural” sugars on the market, coconut sugar is also the lowest on the glycemic index, meaning it has the least interaction with insulin. Surprisingly it too contains nutrients which puts it a few steps ahead of white or brown table sugar. One of my most common sugars in baking with a sweet caramel flavor.
- DATES – Given that dates are truly a fruit, of course they contain a great amount of nutrients. They are perfect for giving the slightly sweet flavor you are going for, all while adding a touch of nutrient value.
My love for these sweeteners comes from the fact that they are all real, grown from the earth foods that aren’t just “empty.” They can in the correct doses contain life giving properties and a lot of satiety. Not to mention the bold flavors and water content (of some) make them more concentrated, in the end allowing you to consume less with the same big flavor.
Things are looking pretty good!
Now that you have my list of go-to sugar substitutes in my house there are a couple of other “acceptable” sweeteners that could be used, so lets get into that.
WHAT ABOUT STEVIA?
Aside from full calorie sweeteners as mentioned above, the question still begs the question, what about those zero calories sweeteners? First of all, they all have calories just insignificant amounts. These sweeteners include stevia and our sugar alcohols.
All are generally recognized as safe and most even calling stevia a “real food” sweetener (although that depends on brand, quality, etc just like all of the others). Some research even goes as far to say that these can have therapeutic effects such as regulating blood sugar in diabetics.
I too think these can be perfectly acceptable but in the end it boils down to your own preference. Personally I don’t like the flavor as well (some can have a cooling effect in your mouth) and it just takes the fun out of it. Plus to caution you, there are some negative effects to stevia and sugar alcohols. You can read more about our family’s experience with stevia here.
While I do still consume stevia on occasion, I don’t depend on it. But again, with all of this it is more about being in-tune with your body and how it is reacting, so pay close attention when introducing something new.
HOW AND WHEN TO USE SUGAR
Moderation, boy I hate that word, but in the end use sugars sparingly and don’t depend on them. If you depend on them and even full on crave them daily you should check out my course on overcoming cravings. Not to make this a sales pitch but the proven three-step method will help you overcome cravings in less than two weeks. It’s easy, quick and inexpensive way to ditch the guilt and develop a healthy relationship with sugar.
There of course are times to use sugars. From sauces, to marinades, condiments, and of course baked goods. A small amount of “natural” sugar (those listed above) can go a long way. Did you catch the part about a small amount? Yes, a little goes a long way and luckily the natural sweeteners are more sweet meaning you can use far less and still get the same great flavor. Make sure you download my free guide to get all of the proper conversions when replacing sugar in recipes.
WHY YOU NEED IT
While most of the time you can exclude or greatly limit the sugar concentration, there are given reasons why you need sugar in cooking . In baking and cooking, sugars have a valuable effect on the end result. They are primarily responsible for:
- Moistening – sugar is hygroscopic, which means water loves it. When used in baking, sugars attraction to water interferes with structure builders creating a more tender and moist product.
- Prevents crystal formation in frozen goods – Because of its structure, it prevents large ice crystals from forming.
- Browns and promotes the delicious caramelization we look for – NOTE syrups brown quicker than crystalline sugars.
- Assists in leavening making things rise. This introduces one of my favorite baking tips, which is creaming the (non-melted) fat such as butter or coconut oil with sugar. This incorporates air into the product leading to a lighter end result.
- Stabilizes whipped egg foams. Always important in meringues, mouses and this amazing marshmallow cream found in the free guide. Essentially sugar binds with the eggs and prevents it from leaking out of the foam.
Phew, feeling a little better about life?
HOW TO SURVIVE
My sweet sugar substitute tips to you are:
- STOP fearing it and start embracing good food made healthy. The more you restrict and deprive the more likely you are to binge. Developing a good relationship with food and overcoming your cravings in a positive and easy fashion will help you to control your sweet tooth without even trying.
- Use the right sugar substitutes – By picking out your go-to sugars and becoming comfortable with those, you will start to understand how valuable they can be in small quantities in the food you make.
- Stop fearing it….
- Stop fearing it…
- Enjoy the parties and get-togethers, even if that means a cookie or two. Just have enough trust and respect and put all of your focus on what you value about your body that a cookie or two is good enough.
NEED A LITTLE EXTRA HELP?
Still trying to sort this out and what sugar substitutes you should use and what you should lose? If you haven’t already, download my free guide which will show you:
- What sugars to use
- How to replace sugars
- The correct conversions
- What types to buy
- An EXCLUSIVE recipe for Chai Spiced Cookies with Marshmallow Cream
- An EXTRA SPECIAL BONUS – Five Healthy Holiday Baking Tips from some of my very respected blogging friends (->Make sure you click on their bios in the guide to find all of their mouth-watering good recipes)
Get my best tips for swapping healthy sugars with
the ultimate healthy sugar guide
If you want to develop a healthy relationship with sugar and are doubting if you really can ever come to terms with this moderation idea, check out The Craving Cure. It is one of my most popular courses that has helped hundreds overcome cravings in a matter of weeks without starvation or deprivations. The better news, most of the tips don’t even require changing what you eat. It’s a proven, simple and strategic plan with meal and recipe ideas, cheat sheets and lots more. It’s a great gift to yourself.