Looking for an alternative to sugar and not sure about the choices?
If you are reading this, I probably don't have to convince you that sugar is evil. Research has proven that if you cut out sugar you will reduce your risks for (among many other things):
- Heart disease
If you are currently consuming sugars daily, you will probably lose weight by replacing them and eventually eliminating them. A question I get asked a lot is, “how does one give up sugar without giving up enjoying a few sweets on special occasions?”
I like to replace not erase (a phrase coined by the fabulous Tana Amen in her book The Omni Diet, see end of post for book recommendations). So,what do I replace sugar with? My top three choices are stevia, xylitol and erythritol. However, be very choosy when you go shopping! Not all “stevia” is safe, and labels make it very hard to determine which ones to use! I have been using stevia products for about 12 years now, and I think I have tried them all!
For a minute, I got duped by the food company giant Coca-Cola when they started manufacturing Truvia … A friend of mine had made some dessert with it and I was impressed! She was an avid researcher so I trusted her opinion without doing my own research. I actually used this product for a while, then one day I actually LOOKED into it; when I went back and did my own research, I felt sick. I avoid anything with “natural flavors” so how did I not see this before? I found out that Truvia wasn't completely Stevia, but an extract of the plant called Rebana an overly processed (42 steps from start to finish) product that I would not knowingly use at all!
Stevia can actually be grown in your own garden. It is a plant with green leaves that you can add to your tea. You can buy green powdered stevia as well. Don't think that PepsiCo has fixed the mistakes made by it's competitor and go out to buy PureVia either. They have a similar manufacturing process that actually is NOT healthy. If you are curious I recommend doing some more reading about that, but I want to focus on what is GOOD to use.
Using real whole stevia actually does eliminate the spike in blood sugar that is caused from other natural sw
eeteners like cane sugar, maple syrup, and honey. This is what I am looking for when I help someone break their sugar habit. I want to get them away from storing sugar in their fat cells; “when your blood sugar becomes elevated, insulin is released to direct the extra energy for storage. Leptin is responsible for the accuracy of insulin signaling and for your insulin resistance.
Leptin is a hormone produced in your fat cells. One of its primary roles is to regulate your appetite and body weight. It tells your brain when to eat, how much to eat, and when to stop eating, which is why it’s called the “satiety hormone.” It also tells your brain what to do with the energy it has.” (1)
My top choices for breaking the sugar habit are:
- NonGMO erythritol
- Date Sugar (this will probably still not help you lose weight, if that is your reason for cutting out sugars, but is a better choice than regular organic sugar with nutrients and other benefits)
- Coconut Sugar (I use this in baking for my children, but I still do not eat it myself, as it would not allow me to lose weight and I don't feed it to them if they are around people who have been sick, or it is the time of year when viruses are going around. I want to keep their immune systems up and this cannot be done while eating sweets)
The WORST sweeteners to use are:
- Sucralose (Splenda)
- Sugar (if that's what it says on the label, it is most likely from GMO sugar beets)
- Agave (I have been known to use a nonGMO agave for my children, but it's pretty rare)
- Pure Cane Sugar (while a better choice than GMO sugar, still doesn't do a body good)
Artificial sweeteners ARE worse than sugar. Do not be fooled, drinking “diet” sodas is not going to help your health or lead to weight loss. In the long run, artificial sweeteners will ruin your health. To read more about the dangers of artificial sweeteners I recommend reading Sweet Deception: Why Splenda, NutraSweet, and the FDA May Be Hazardous to Your Health written by Dr. Joseph Mercola, my mentor for the last 13 years.
Is Stevia safe to eat?
People in Japan have been using stevia as a sweetener since the early '70's. I believe it is. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Extract made from the leaves of the Stevia plant is undoubtedly the safest sweetener on the market. Unlike aspartame and other artificial sweeteners that have been cited for dangerous toxicities, regular Stevia is a safe, natural alternative that's ideal if you’re watching your weight.” (2) However, do what I do, research and see for yourself. (3) Choose your stevia wisely!
I mainly use stevia in teas and other drinks like smoothies or puddings, jams, and syrups I make to replace the sugar laden types available at the supermarket. For baking I prefer erythritol, you will see it in stores sometimes as Swerve or others, but always look for the non GMO variety. The bag of stevia lasts forever cause you only use a tiny amount.
Is erythritol safe to use?
Although erythritol has no calories it is not an artificial sweetener; though it has a taste 70% as sweet as sugar. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol which is fermented, non-glycemic and does not cause a spike in blood sugar. Studies show that erythritol does not promote tooth decay or feed the bacteria in the mouth, it is non carcinogenic and actually contains antioxidants. However, it can cause minor digestive issues in some people, but is said to be the easiest sugar alcohol to digest. It is best to start out with a small serving to test how well your body can tolerate it before incorporating it into your diet on a larger scale. From research I have seen, it seems that erythritol is safe to use. (4) I buy my erythritol here because I trust the source. You can also get a blend of organic stevia and nonGMO erythritol here.
Just remember to do your own research and choose your product wisely. I am just a passionate mom who cares about the health of my children, my family and friends. Is stevia and erythritol right for you? Only you can answer that question after you are well informed.
Books I recommend in this post:
The Omni Diet: The Revolutionary 70% PLANT + 30% PROTEIN Program to Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, Fight Inflammation, and Change Your Life Forever and I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook
My three favorite books for Weight Loss