How to live without sugar, but still eat dessert.
You know, that white granulated, sweet stuff.
All of us know it’s unhealthy.
Most (I won’t say ALL) of us still eat it.
I’m known to be a “health nut”, and to to be completely honest, I still eat sugar every once in a while.
But this isn’t about shaming anyone for their sugar consumption, or insisting that we all need to live sugar free lives.
I know that at some points in my life, I will eat it…but I’m not going to intentionally make it a part of my lifestyle. For me, living “sugar-free” is not a diet, short-term fix, or something I plan to be religious about. It’s a lifestyle choice I’m making, because I know the damage it can do, and don’t enjoy experiencing it’s negative effects on myself.
It’s hard to completely cut out sugar, and it’s hard to even start reducing how much you consume.
But if you’re someone trying to lose weight, clear up your skin, get mental focus (clear away brain fog), better your digestive system, or better care for your body in general, reducing your sugar intake is a very important step.
So whether you’re looking for ways to reduce sugar in your life, or you’re wanting to start getting rid of it for all intents and purposes, this post is for you!
And if you’re simply wondering, “how do you make dessert taste good without sugar?”…I’ll get to that too.
Why Is Sugar So Bad?
What I mean by sugar, is the processed, refined stuff. White sugar, brown sugar, “pure cane sugar”….For the purpose of this post, alternative sweeteners such as honey, are NOT what I’m referring to when I say sugar. Hopefully that clears up any confusion that may occur. 🙂
So why is sugar unhealthy? This article is a good look at where I stand on sugar, and does a pretty good job of explaining why I don’t even keep sugar in my pantry (I recently started making my own kombucha, and did buy organic sugar for that purpose. So, I guess you could say that I technically DO have it in my pantry now 😛 ).
And if you’re still not sure why sugar is bad, you can read this….
So, how do you even begin to back away from the sugar? After all, it’s EVERYWHERE. And it tastes so good!
What do you do when you want to make a dessert? Or, just a sweet treat? Is it possible to live without any refined sugar at all?
These are the burning questions…
Know Where Sugar is Hiding
To begin reducing how much sugar you consume, you have to start by knowing just how much you DO take in. As I said before, sugar is everywhere. Sometimes it goes by different names…but its all the same highly processed, nutrient-deficient SWEETNESS. On a packaged food, you might see it under names such as dextrose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, etc.
When you want to eliminate sugar from your diet, processed packaged foods is one of the first places to look. Things like granola bars, breakfast cereals, crackers, flavored chips, etc. Most of us are aware of this.
But who knew that spaghetti sauce and salsa contained added sugar?
Oh, I thought that all you needed to make a delicious pasta sauce was tomatoes, herbs, and salt. My bad.
If something is labeled as “sugar-free”, that’s a red flag right there. There’s a difference between “naturally sugar-free”, like unsweetened applesauce, and “sugar-free” gum, for instance. But, artificial sweeteners that won’t count as “sugar” in the nutrition info on the label, can be even worse for your health than refined cane sugar.
So, the word “sugar” is not always used on the label.
Be aware, and read your labels. And know the sneaky names sugar hides behind. Here’s a handy list.
Know The Effects of Sugar
I think to be effective in moving away from sugar in your diet, you have to realize how addictive refined sugar really is. Some sugar will make your body crave even more. Things like stress and bad bacteria in your gut can increase these cravings.
Whether you go “cold-turkey”, or slowly taper it off, it’s going to be harder in the beginning. This article gives a more scientific explanation of sugars addictive qualities: http://rense.com/general45/sguar.htm
I say all of this to say: craving and wanting sugar is totally understandable, but it gets easier. Don’t let withdrawal symptoms trick you into thinking you’re doomed to a life of high sugar consumption!
Enjoy Other Tastes
I’m a firm believer in other tastes aside from “sweetness”. There’s tangy, bitter, sour, spicy. We don’t need added sugar in everything from our spaghetti, to the condiments (ketchup, mayo, barbecue sauce) that get slathered on everything. Part of getting sugar out of your diet is learning to appreciate other flavors.
And then, learn to recognize and enjoy the natural sweetness of many whole foods. This includes the obvious one, fruit. But also, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, even tomatoes (especially when cooked down) and oats. It’s there, but if your tastebuds are used to pop-tarts and juice, it will be hard to appreciate.
Sweets and Treats Without Sugar
Then we come to the issue of dessert.
I love sweet things. I really do.
I used to always say I have such a big sweet tooth, but I’ve discovered that I can’t actually say that anymore. In the last couple of years, my sweet tooth has decreased significantly, and it comes and goes. I believe this is because I’ve been more careful and aware of the natural sugars I consume (even from fruit), and don’t regularly consume ANY refined processed sugar.
Don’t believe for a second that avoiding white processed sugar means you can never have dessert. There are so many options out there! I’ve lived without sugar in my pantry for about a year now, and don’t ever plan to go back.
I think the easiest step you can take to cut sugar out of your diet, is to replace it with something else that’s equally as sweet.
And while I don’t believe in cutting out all sweeteners, I do think that moderation is called for, and eventually you might need to cut back on your use of ALL sweeteners. Some, more so than others. And what moderation means to YOU is dependent on your current health condition and goals.
Making Dessert Healthier
Next week on the blog, I’ll be posting the first in my upcoming series on healthy sweeteners. In this series, I’ll outline the various sweeteners I’ve experimented with and LOVE. You’ll learn of their benefits, what to look for when buying, where to buy, possible cautions, and also how to use them in place of sugar! And, of course, I’ll be sharing some amazing recipes with you!
Looking ahead, here’s a list of the healthy sweeteners I’ll be featuring:
- Maple Syrup
- Date Paste
- Coconut Sugar
- Stevia extract
- Monkfruit extract
I can’t wait to share some of my favorite sugar alternatives with you!
Comment below, with any specific questions you’d like me to answer regarding sugar or these healthier alternatives!
If there’s a particular kind of sweet treat you’d like me to feature in this series, let me know, and I’ll do my best to include a recipe just for you!