Sugar and Sugar Substitutes
When I develop the urge to locate a suitable alternative to a trigger food, I generally don’t stop until I find it. Remember my three month quest to find the perfect substitute to peanut butter? That lesson just goes to show that sometimes you can find satisfying surprises in the unlikeliest of foods. Who would have thought that a recipe using chickpeas would pass for the ever-present peanut butter urge? Many thanks to The Wannabe Chef for thinking up the original concoction.
For a while now I’ve been feeling the urge to change my current substitute for sugar, which is Splenda. And I can already tell that I’m going to have my work cut out for me.
For the past few years I’ve attributed a good part of my ability to lose and maintain my weight due to the fact that I paid close attention to how many calories I was consuming. If I were using a recipe that called for brown sugar I had no problem substituting brown sugar with Splenda in order to lower the calorie count. I thought I was doing myself a favor and acting responsibly by eliminating as much sugar as possible from my diet, since it was the main reason why I’d gained so much weight. Whether I’m eating it or not, my head is always wishing it was surrounded in a sugary blissful haze.
I’ve received many emails and comments since the launch of this blog regarding my choice of sweeteners. I always read the links that are sent and share some of your concerns on the effects of artificial sweeteners and any Google search will gladly provide articles as to how they can do more harm than good. No matter what I read though, I always end up with the same question: what is a woman to do when she has only two choices – either use real sugar and possibly become overweight (which is unhealthy) or use artificial sweeteners (which can be unhealthy, apparently) and keep her weight stable? If the outcome of bad health is the same, isn’t this a lose-lose situation?
I recently stumbled across an article about why artificial sweeteners are a bad choice. It only intensified my frustration. At the end of the article, the author shows what we can use as alternatives to artificial sweeteners. You can read the article in it’s entirety here.
Turn to natural sweeteners for your drinks and food alike. Honey, organic maple syrup, molasses, date sugar, brown rice syrup, and stevia are just a few natural sweeteners you can turn to. Not only will they wreak less havoc on your body, but your support of these sweeteners instead will, eventually, help to slow the production of toxic artificial sweeteners–which are significantly less delicious in my opinion anyway.
Aren’t the majority of people who use sweeteners trying to watch their weight? I assume this to be true. So, if I were to follow the advice of this article, then I should use pure organic maple syrup on my whole grain waffles instead of, say, sugar-free Aunt Jemima maple syrup. Except that the organic maple syrup is well over 200 calories for 1/4 cup compared to the sugar-free syrup which has 25 calories per 1/4 cup. Don’t get me wrong; if I were basing my choice solely as a mindful eater, I’d obviously choose the pure maple syrup (hello! ONE ingredient). But as a dieter? I’d never choose to add all of those unnecessary calories to my meal if I had a lower calorie alternative. Also, is there anyone that adds that little syrup to their waffles or pancakes? I see people in restaurants adding three times that much without thinking twice about it.
To those of you who have sent me articles on artificial sweeteners, don’t give up hope. The fact that I’m frustrated is a good thing. I actually want to incorporate less artificial ingredients into my diet. I’ve been attempting to make this transition for months now by trying to find an alternative to the Torani sugar-free syrups I use in my morning must-have tea lattes (all contain Splenda). Not an easy task, let me tell you. The problem is, I want it all. I want to have natural sweetness without the calories, but I’m not so sure it exists. I have tried Ideal sweetener, but to me it has too strong an aftertaste. I bought organic agave sweetener but the calories quickly add up as I drink tea throughout the day. My recent find was sugar/stevia packets made by Domino. Again, I noticed that aftertaste. Ugh.
What is your sweetener of choice? Are you able to incorporate natural sugars into your life while watching your weight? Does the perfect sweetener exist, or am I doomed to live an all or nothing existence (wow, how dramatic did that sound? Poor Me!!)
Pour forth your advice! I’m listening………