It goes without saying that sugar is bad for you. It’s not only high in calories which can lead to weight gain, high cholesterol and heart disease, but it can also cause tooth decay and cavities, which can result in you requiring dental work such as fillings or even root canals. Furthermore, sugar can also be problematic if you have certain pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes – and those are just some of the reasons why it’s recommended you stay away from sugar and make better food choices.
If you’re absolutely have to have something sweet (to the point where you are craving it), then there are healthier alternatives you can try. For example, if you prefer drinking soda, swap it for water mixed with lemon and lime or your favourite berries. Eliminating soda from your diet and switching it up with flavoured water not only decreases sugar from your diet, but still gives you that sweet taste you’re craving. The same goes for certain foods you eat – such as cakes, cookies and other pastries/baked goods. Fresh fruit not only makes a sweet after-meal dessert, but it’s also much healthier than eating those aforementioned unhealthy foods. In addition, fruit isn’t something that has to be limited to just one meal – it can be incorporated into your breakfast, lunch, dinner – and even makes for a good snack. Fruits are some of the healthiest foods you can eat as they are rich in antioxidants and high in essential nutrients such as vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, calcium, fibre, and more. Among some of the healthiest fruits you can include in your diet are apples, oranges, strawberries, peaches, melon, blackberries, blueberries, grapefruit, pineapple, pomegranate – and, surprisingly, avocado (which is often mistaken for a vegetable.) It is important to note that many of these fruits (and some not mentioned) do contain sugar, though the sugars found in fruits are natural.
There are also sugar alternatives on the market which have increased in popularity over the years. For example, artificial sweeteners. Sold under many different brand names, artificial sweeteners are something people turn to as they virtually have no calories, nor do they contribute to tooth decay or raise blood sugar levels. Many artificial sweeteners are also safe to use in things like coffee and tea, as well as baking, though you may need to make some modifications to your recipes as artificial sweeteners often taste much sweeter than sugar does. Just like you would with anything else you eat, it’s also important that artificial sweeteners are used in moderation, as it is possible for them to come with potential side-effects – and you may even find yourself craving sweet things more frequently.
Honey is also something that people will often use as an alternative to sugar, but it actually has a higher calorie count than sugar. Just one tablespoon of honey contains approximately 64 calories, while one tablespoon of sugar is approximately 49 calories. It also has the same effects that sugar would, such as impacting blood sugar levels, which can be problematic if you are diabetic. Aside from consumption, however, honey has been long-used as a natural remedy for many different ailments. Swallowing a spoonful of honey has been known to soothe a sore throat and ease a cough, and has also been used for wound healing purposes. When consumed in moderation, honey can have both anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects.
To make sure you’re reducing sugar from your diet, always make sure you’re purchasing sugar-free products (yogurt, for example) and unsweetened versions of things like nut butters and applesauce, as well as snacking on healthier foods (such as trail mix or raw fruits and vegetables instead of candy.)