I have had many questions about the sweeteners I use and those I refuse to use so I have FINALLY (sorry its taken so long!) written a post for all those who have been patiently waiting to hear my thoughts on all the health "stuff" out there.
Hope you can glean something from the choices I have made in my life to benefit your own!
For those of us who have struggled with our weight on and off for most of our lives we know all to well that losing weight is never easy and always requires work. Choosing the right program that you know will help you stick with it in the long haul can be a confusing one to say the least. One thing I've learned along the way is that fad diets never work and never, ever help in keeping the weight off for good. In my own personal battles with losing weight, I used many different programs along the way. But honestly in my own humble opinion, all programs can and do work, it just depends on if you are ready and willing to do what it takes or not.
The basic theme is always the same no matter what program you choose. In order to lose weight you must eat less and expend more calories than you are currently taking in or you would have already lost the weight you wanted to lose by now.
We can choose on a daily basis certain types of foods and ingredients that either help promote our overall goals or detract from them. My experience has shown me eating foods with refined sugar and flours, as well as artificial sweeteners, have greatly contributed to binges, overeating, acne, PMS and other menstrual issues, ravenous hunger and cravings, sluggishness, and sleep problems.
I share my top 3 best sweeteners with you so that you can make informed decisions about what products you decide will either help or hinder your weight loss efforts. Some that are fairly new on the market I prefer to use the" wait and see" approach with. I am currently avoiding coconut palm sugar as I haven't read enough articles to support it as a healthy alternative personally for myself. Here's one article if you are interested in reading more about it. Is Coconut Palm Sugar A Healthy Sugar Substitute?
There's quite a bit of controversy over using agave and whether or not it is a healthy refined sugar free substitute. I've read enough articles at this point to decide that it isn't any better than using white table sugar because it is highly processed. If you are interested in reading more about it, check out, "Agave: A Triumph Over Marketing Truth" , "Is Agave Nectar A healthy Sweetener?" and "Shocking! This 'Tequila' Sweetener is Far Worse than High Fructose Corn Syrup".
This is what I have found through researching agave:
- Sap is removed from the plant itself and chemically processed at high temperatures to produce the syrup.
- Depending on how much heat is used, the syrup may be made up of 55-90% fructose. What's fructose? Essentially high fructose corn syrup! That's what anyone who is trying to lose weight should avoid at all costs!
- The higher the percentage of fructose the higher your blood sugar will spike just as it would consuming white table sugar.
- The FDA has stopped shipments of agave due to excessive pesticide residue.
Some of you have asked about brown sugar and why I don't use it as well. It is completely refined white table sugar crystals that have been added with molasses to produce the brown color. So to me it is not any better for you than white sugar.
If you are interested in why Splenda and other artificial sweeteners are not listed, you can read about it in my post, " 3 Splenda Myths Busted" to learn more.
This list is my choice of sweeteners that works for myself and my family. I am able to cook, bake and enjoy foods made with any of these sweeteners without problems. No longer having issues with cravings, ravenous hunger and other symptoms I felt were directly related to using white table sugar and flour. Except for the first sweetener listed, the other refined sugar-free sweeteners are still a form of sugar and I choose to eat foods with these ingredients in moderation. But the one exception to everything in moderation is consuming refined sugar and flour products. They just don't offer me anything positive in return so I choose to abstain and my life is better for it.
- Completely sugar-free plant based sweetener
- Calorie Free so it doesn't raise blood sugar
- Up to 300x sweeter than sugar so you can use much less
- 2 drops of liquid stevia = 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of liquid stevia = 1 cup of sugar
2. Raw, unfiltered honey
- natural and pure
- minimally processed and retains nutrients
- sometimes called evaporated cane juice
- contains less sucrose than white table sugar
- not commercially processed, hand-paddled to dry it
- minimally processed so less likely to spike blood sugar
- ranks as one of the highest in nutritional value because it retains vitamins and minerals found in the sugar cane plant
- 1 teaspoon contains 15 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 sodium, 10mg potassium, 6mg calcium, 4 g complex carbohydrates
I choose to cook and bake with these top 3 sweeteners above.
The following sweeteners are ones I would ingest if found within processed and packaged foods but I do so very rarely. I have not cooked or baked with these sweeteners below although I am not opposed to doing so. I just really love using the top 3 I have already shared.
- date sugar, brown rice syrup, black strap molasses, barley malt and fruitsource- a natural sweetener made from kiwi fruit.
Hopefully this post will encourage you to try the sugar-free lifestyle gradually eliminating refined sugar from your life. Everyone is different and some products will not effect you as they do other people. Choosing to abstain from certain sugars has greatly helped me achieve a freedom in my life I never thought was possible before. No foods or sugars and products will ever hold me captive without the ability to say NO to them and YOU can do it too!
Have you tried to become sugar-free? Are you unable to say no to refined sugar products?
What products and ingredients effect you negatively? Are you successfully leading a sugar-free lifestyle? Please share your thoughts and comments!
PLEASE NOTE DISCLAIMER:
Brenda Bennett is not a medical professional or nutritionist. She does not have formal weight loss training. This blog is her own experience as examples and guidelines for healthy eating, exercise and weight loss strategies. Consult a medical professional before making exercise and dietary changes.