Don’t be duped into thinking a life without sugar is misery.
I understand we all love a sweet treat now and then—some more than others. Sugar lifts our moods, gives us energy, and makes us feel alive, but then almost immediately it does the opposite. Its feel-good affects are fleeting, leaving us with more problems than satisfaction: sluggishness, skin problems, weight issues, chronic diseases, more cravings, irritability and short tempers ...
I strongly believe that it would do us all some good to cut back on the refined sugar (and flour). But, this doesn’t mean we have to deprive ourselves—there are plenty of alternatives these days.
First and foremost, cultivate some sweetness in your life. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we should and should NOT eat that we can forget who we are. I mean this in the large expansive sense of who we are as human beings: love and truth (if you believe that sort of thing). When we find fulfillment in non-food ways by tending to our relationships, managing our stress, and doing what we love, it’s possible to cultivate enough nourishment in our world that food becomes a non-issue.
Sometimes we're so concerned with what we put into our mouths, that we become rigid and inflexible, which is the antithesis of joy and wellbeing—what we're trying to achieve in the first place. Just think of any healthy tree; it needs flexibility in its branches and trunk to survive the winds and harsh weather.
So take time out each day and each week to tend to your heart. The more you feed it, the less you'll depend on sugar, and the better you'll feel about yourself and the life you're living.
Second, the simplest advice I can give to minimize sugar is to eliminate it from all your non-dessert foods. This will require you to read labels, and be conscious and mindful of what you are eating, but it’s doable.
Third, cut the sugar in half or by a third in your favorite recipes. If you still need extra sweetness, buffer it with sweet spices and flavorings (cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, nutmeg...) or one of the alternative sweeteners listed below.
And fourth, start experimenting with alternative sweeteners:
- Stevia. If you’ve tasted stevia before and didn’t like it, I encourage you to try a different brand or form (liquid, extract, whole leaf...). Stevia’s taste, sweetness, and aftertaste varies greatly from brand to brand and method of processing.
- Luo han guo. This sweetener has been used in China for centuries. It’s claim to fame is that it doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste and retains its sweetness when heated.
- Xylitol and erythritol. These two alcohol sugars do not have an aftertaste, also retain their sweetness when heated, and are not associated with all the digestive issues that come with other alcohol sugars.
By simply reducing sugar you can improve your mood, help to slow down aging (fewer wrinkles over time!), improve cardiovascular health, increase your overall energy, lose weight, and sport clearer skin. I’ll say it again: don’t be duped into thinking a life without sugar (or flour) is misery. If that’s all you’re hearing from others, it’s time to get a second opinion!
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