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How to Satisfy Sugar Cravings

We all know that eating sweets is not good for us. Sugar consumption is linked to the development of chronic diseases including obesity, metabolic disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, elevated blood pressure, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cancer, and cognitive decline. It can make you feel bad, too.

When I eat sugar, I eventually feel grouchy, too full, and it actually makes me want to eat more sugar, and more food, in general.

Unfortunately, the knowledge that sugar is bad for your health and makes you feel bad does not stop us wanting those sweet treats.

The occasional splurge is fine, but how many people can keep the occasional splurge occasional?

The trick then is to choose your sweet treats wisely.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a highly processed sweetener made up of about 80% fructose and 20% sucrose. Consumption of high fructose corn syrup has been on the rise since its introduction into the food market in the 1970s. It is difficult to find packaged foods without it. HFCS is not just in candy and soda. It is also found in many drinks, sauces, jams, nut butters, soups, breads, processed meats, and crackers.  High fructose corn syrup has been linked to such health problems as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney stones, gout, and aging.

Table sugar is about 50% fructose and 50% sucrose. It is now under the guise of many different names such as beet sugar, cane sugar, sucrose, and sucralose. Although the makeup of table sugar differs slightly from HFCS, wide debate exists over whether or not this makes a difference in how it is metabolized in the body. And the bottom line is that these sugars are just as destructive to your health as HFCS.

All sugar, whether HFCS or honey, raises the blood sugar and causes an increase in insulin. This simple act sets in motion a series of events that lead to inflammation, metabolic derangement, and damage to the proteins that make up your red blood cells, blood vessels, and nerve endings.  

So, what can you do when your sweet tooth just won’t be quiet?

Fruit is the ultimate dessert. Fruit is nature’s candy and is the perfect outlet for your sweet tooth. The sugar in fruit is fructose, so you still get that rise in blood sugar, but the fiber and other phytonutrients help to slow the absorption of sugar into your body and give you a burst of nutrition. Caution: fruit juice is NOT a health food. Eliminating the fiber from the fruit makes juice almost as bad for you as soda! What I like right now: in season organic peaches and nectarines. So good!

Sugar alcohols like Xylitol and Erythritol make a great 1:1 substitution for table sugar. They taste just like sugar and don’t raise your blood sugar or insulin. Caution: Xylitol can be hard on your stomach. Start out with small doses! What I like right now: A spoonful of Swerve in my coffee.

Stevia is a great herbal sweetener that does not affect the blood sugar or insulin in the body. Caution: it is REALLY sweet and a little bit goes a long way. Some brands have a bitter aftertaste. What I like right now: Zevia brand drinks are a fun replacement for soda. A few drops of Stevia glycerite in my tea is just right!