The world is finally waking up to the dangers of refined sugar. Once considered a harmless additive occasionally used to sweeten foods, it quickly morphed into something that was used as a cheap filler in highly processed foods and now we’re all paying the price, with increasing rates of diabetes, cancer and heart disease. In small amounts sugar is far more acceptable, but some people are turning against the white stuff altogether and trying to eliminate all refined sugars from their diet.
But considering it can trigger symptoms such as irritability and constant energy crashes, this process is not easy. In this guide we look at ways that you can effectively and easily detox from sugar, including alternatives that you can use.
Tips on Reducing Sugar
Just because you avoid adding refined sugar to drinks and food, doesn’t mean you’re not consuming any of it throughout the day. Refined sugars can be found in most processed foods, including savory foods. It is added to restore some of the flavor that is lost through the processing, and it’s very common in foods like bread, chips, and other starchy foods.
Make sure you read the packaging before you buy something and focus more on whole foods like vegetables and whole grains. Fruits are also great. They contain natural sugars, so you’re still getting a kick of sweetness, but it’s not processed or refined, and because it’s consumed in addition to the fruit juice and the fiber of the fruit, it is released slowly and does not spike your insulin.
You should avoid fruit juice though, because fruit presses and smoothies break down all of that fiber and give you a sugar hit that is similar to refined sugars.
Reducing Sugar in Tea and Coffee
If you drink a lot of tea and coffee throughout the day and you enjoy it with sugar, then this can be one of the biggest stumbling blocks. After all, not only will you be reducing the sugar, but without that coffee or tea you’ll be reducing the caffeine and the double-whammy withdrawals could be overpowering.
If you drink black tea, try adding red tea like honeybush to your black tea. It’s a naturally sweet red tea that is harvested from a shrub native to South Africa. It tastes a lot like black tea, but it is naturally sweet. It will reduce the strength of the tea while still giving you the antioxidants. If you’re used to drinking black tea with sugar, this will also be far more palatable.
As for coffee, the quality is key. Focus on high quality arabica beans that are delicately roasted and use a press or drip instead of instant coffee or a coffee machine. You can also try coffee that is topped with frothy milk, such as lattes and flat whites. They make this drink far more tolerable without sugar for the sweet-toothed drinkers amongst you.
Healthy Sugar Alternatives
Firstly, let’s make one thing clear, agave syrup is not a healthy sugar alternative. It’s nearly 90% fructose, which is even more than high-fructose corn syrup. It’s highly processed as well, so there are very few vitamins and minerals left in the end product. You’d be better off with HFCS, but really you should be avoiding that as well.
If you want something that is natural and sweet, something that tastes great and can be used as a replacement to help you withdraw from sugar, then try honey or maple syrup. These are very sweet and calorific, so you shouldn’t swap like-for-like. Instead, try 1 teaspoon of honey or maple syrup where you would usually have 3 or 4 teaspoons of sugar. That way, you can reduce your intake of sugar, eliminate your intake of refined sugar, and benefit from vitamins, minerals and anti-microbial effects too.
Are Chemical Sweeteners Safe?
Contrary to what those scaremongering Facebook posts want you to believe, there is nothing wrong with chemical sweeteners. Sure, they’re not natural, but that’s not an indicator of safety. If everything natural was safe we’d all be popping arsenic and cyanide pills and if everything manmade was unsafe we’d be dead from aspirin.
There is no proof that these sweeteners are unsafe, but there is a lot of proof that they are safe. There is a general consensus that says we don’t know if these chemical sweeteners are safe or not and that by consuming them we’re willingly becoming guinea pigs. This is just not true. Many studies have been done, countless research has been conducted and they are safe.
That’s true of all chemical sweeteners, but some have more reliable, promising research than others, including Sucralose and Stevia, which is actually sourced from a plant. The truth is, the only thing wrong with these sweeteners is that they can taste a little bitter and it can be hard to get the dose right.
There are also suggestions that consuming high levels of them could be making us fatter because we’re telling our bodies that they are getting something sweet, which our bodies assume will mean something calorific, only for that sweetness to occur without the calories. This research is true and it is worrying, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to grow cancers out of your eyeballs or whatever crazy scaremongering your insane friends are sharing on Facebook lately.
Sugar is not actually addictive and it doesn’t trigger the same sort of symptoms that you get from drugs and alcohol. It’s very unpleasant to have to wean yourself off of refined sugar and we’re not saying it’s easy, but comparing it to drugs would be massively underplaying the pain that drug addicts go through and over exaggerating how difficult it is to come off sugar.
Because while it can be unpleasant, it’s far from impossible and if you have a bit of willpower and the determination to kick your refined sugar addiction to the curb, then you should have all that you need to stop using so much of it and improve your health. If you stop telling yourself that you need it, that it’s harmless, then you’ll waken up to just how damaging it is and how desperatly you need to stop consuming so much of it.