BREAK YOUR SUGAR HABIT

 

As consumers we understand that less is more when it comes to sweeteners.  In fact, most of us are now reading labels and beginning to understand just how many different concentrated sweeteners we can consume in a given day.  But let’s go beyond just seeking out products labeled ‘low sugar’.  These three tips will help you tame that sweet tooth. 

 

First, read ingredient lists to eliminate sneaky sugar sources when you don’t taste, or need, the sweet.  Look for sugar and sugar aliases like cane juice, sorghum, or sucanat.  Also, keep an eye out for anything that ends in “ose” (maltose, dextrose, fructose) or “juice concentrate”. 

 

Second, because caffeine may make your taste buds perceive foods as less sweet than they truly are, mind your coffee habit.  Don’t ditch caffeine entirely, just be mindful.

 

Last, rein in stress.  People say they eat more sweets when they’re stressed.  Cortisol, the stress hormone, is likely the culprit.   Cortisol raises blood sugar, which causes a corresponding rise in insulin in the blood, lowering blood sugar.  When this happens it’s likely that you will crave something sweet to help stabilize your blood sugar.

 

Sugar Shakeout

 

Sugar is sugar: it’s all the same.  One is not any healthier than another, despite what you may have heard.   Here is the lowdown on eight commonly used sugars, natural and processed.

Granulated:  Regular sugar is relatively high (60-65) on the glycemic index, causing a big sugar high and a crash.

Brown sugar:  Molasses is what makes brown sugar brown.   Use light brown sugar in baking, condiments, and glazes; use dark brown for baked beans. 

Brown rice syrup:  Not as sweet as sugar, this syrup has butterscotch and nutty notes: as well as one of the highest glycemic indices (98).

Coconut sugar:  This sugar has no coconut flavor.  At 54 on the glycemic index, it’s metabolize more slowly than other sugars, tempering that sugar high.

Fructose:  As an added ingredient in foods, fructose should be avoided.  Fructose is shunted directly to the liver where it is converted to triglycerides, which are a dangerous type of blood fat.

Corn syrup:  Made from corn, this sweetener isn’t the same as high-fructose corn syrup.  HFCS is quickly metabolized and dramatically raises blood sugar, and should be avoided altogether.

Maple syrup:  With a glycemic index of 54, maple syrup is rising in popularity.  Though it boasts disease-fighting antioxidants, it’s still sugar.  Make sure your favorite syrup doesn’t contain added high-fructose corn syrup.  At last check, 11 of the 14 brands in my grocery store did!

Honey:  Also with antioxidant properties, although the glycemic index is much higher than maple syrup.

Agave:  This syrup is 25% sweeter than sugar.  The reason is that it’s 90% fructose and should be avoided altogether.  This is not a healthy alternative!