Here in the new year, millions of Americans will try to cut back on sugar or drop it altogether. It’s a noble effort because sugar is devoid of nutrients, except for calories, which it has in spades.
Quick fact: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports each of us consumes 31 five-pound bags of sugar a year. That’s 267,840 empty calories from sugar alone. Still, people will be jonesing for something sweet to eat. Enter: monk fruit.
Traditionally, people used zero-calorie sweeteners to satisfy their sugar cravings at no caloric cost. Synthetic sugar substitutes, including aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda) and others, are added at the table but are mostly taken as carbonated diet drinks and low calorie foods. But consumption of those foods has taken a nosedive as of late as health conscious consumers flock to natural sweeteners. Stevia, the zero-calorie herb extract, is gaining appeal, but monk fruit is the real one to watch. (more…)
This month is National Honey Month and it just so happens that this week, we’re all about honey. Between the Jewish New Year, which includes a tradition of dipping apples in honey for a “sweet” New Year to First Lady Michelle Obama’s honey beehive at the white house, we just can’t get enough. Plus, there is just no denying that the sweet sugar alternative has some astounding health benefits.
According to the National Honey Board, Americans consume nearly 1.5 pounds of honey per year annually. While honey is certainly not new, it has recently gained popularity as a healthy alternative to sugar. At 60 calories per tablespoon, honey offers a number of advantages.
Gatorade is a well known beverage, served at sports events everywhere, from preschool sports games to professional events. It’s arguably the most served beverage at sporting events, but many parents are not fans of it. The traditional G Series is often thought to be high in sugar, and in answer to this, Gatorade created a lower sugar version, called G2. This beverage wasn’t a perfect fit for many families, however, in that it’s sweetened with sucralose. Many families desire natural foods and beverages and Gatorade has created a new line of performance beverages to please the most discerning of athletes.
Called G Series Natural, the beverage is part of the Perform level, designed to be enjoyed while exercising. G Series Natural replenishes lost fluids and electrolytes exactly the same as traditional Gatorade. Containing only sea salt, natural flavors and natural sweeteners, this beverage meets the needs of athletes who don’t want artificial colors or sweeteners. G Series Natural is sweetened with sucrose and dextrose and has 50 calories per serving. For a lower calorie, yet still natural choice, G2 Natural is sweetened with Stevia, and has 20 calories per serving. Each bottle contains 2 servings. (Always read the label!)
Another victory for proponents of moderation: A recent Harvard study has countered the assertion that diet soda and other artificially sweetened drinks can heighten one’s risk for developing diabetes.
I say a victory for moderation proponents because this means that most people should be able to have a modest amount of diet soda if they please. As is the case in most instances, food should not be demonized or considered “the bad guy.” Our problems with food generally come from within, either with unexamined psychological issues or just not managing one’s time well enough to organize a healthy plan of attack.
Now back to our study…
A large group of men were examined for 20 years. While those who drank regular soda or other sugary drinks were more likely to develop diabetes, the people who drank artificially-sweetened soft drinks, coffee or tea did not show a propensity for becoming diabetic. (more…)
Like all cravings, an urge for something sweet is best handled by practicing moderation. When you’re trying to satisfy your craving, remember to eat slowly and enjoy every bite. Step away from other distractions so that you can focus on your treat.
Make an effort to identify why and when you crave sweets. Focus on new ways to achieve the same pleasure you receive from satisfying your craving. Eliminate your triggers (such as eating before a party or not keeping sweets in your pantry) and allow yourself small, healthy rewards.
Small amounts of fruit-based desserts are often enough to satisfy a sweet tooth. If you crave something sweeter than a bowl full of berries, then use a limited amount of sugar or other sweetener.