If you have been following The Real Food Experience 2015, you know we have made it to Week 4. We started out our Real Food Experience adding in more fruits and vegetables to our diet. Week 2 we made the switch from highly processed white flours and rice to eating whole grains. We even had fun trying some new grains. Week 3 brought us to our first cuts from our diet and the start of our discussion about harmful food additives and avoiding artificial food dyes. The first two weeks we were just adding to our nutrition base. I would not be surprised if this week may be the biggest challenge yet for many of you. This week we are making the switch to natural sweeteners.
If you are new to our challenges, you can start with us at the beginning of the challenge weeks or join us at this point. There are lots of great conversations and friendships forming in our Real Food Experience Facebook group so come on over and join us there.
Why switch to natural sweeteners?
Two reasons really………..
1. Sugar is everywhere. It is in all sorts of places that we would never really expect. Sugar in processed foods is one of the reasons folks keep gaining weight even when they are dieting. Sugar is thought to be highly addictive. Do we really stand a chance of kicking the habit when it is in everything? Think I’m exaggerating? Check out your salad dressing, some canned vegetables, frozen fruit, your yogurt…………you know items that you would think of as healthy. I know plenty of families who are concerned about their family’s growing waistlines and are confused about why they are not able to get them under control. Hidden sugar may be partly to blame. Part 1 of our switch to natural sweeteners is simply to reduce our overall sugar consumption. I’ve got to tell you………..it’s really hard to find processed foods that only use natural sweeteners. It is more likely that they will include the trifecta which is what my husband calls the common combination of sugar, corn syrup, and high-fructose corn syrup that you find in lots of processed foods. If you are counting……. that’s three different sugars in one food item.
2. Making the switch to natural sweeteners is a great way to make sure you are feeding your family the most nutrient dense and least processed foods possible. I don’t have all of the scientific answers as to which chemicals cause the most harm and although I have done extensive reading on the subject, I know that opinions seem to be in constant change. However, the one thing that I do know is that if I avoid highly processed foods and sugar…..I am avoiding a lot of potentially harmful additives. To me…….it’s just that simple.
OK………that all makes sense, but what are natural sweeteners?
There is a lot of debate about what is natural sugar among real food experts. I dare say, even amongst the Real Food Experience writers. However, for the purposes of this challenge you are to eat only foods that are sweetened with honey or 100% pure maple syrup. This challenge will likely have you remaking many of your favorite recipes.
A few notes to get you started for the week…………I said to use only maple syrup and honey. That does not include artificial sweeteners. I am fully aware of the dilemma this may present for many of you. Caffeine addictions run deep. I remember the days when I couldn’t survive the day without a diet soda. I was bad. Please know it IS possible. Additional sweeteners to consider are ripe bananas, applesauce, and Medjool dates. All three are excellent sweeteners for smoothies, pancakes, and baking.
OK…time to get started. I’ll be back later this week with additional tips and information about natural sweeteners to help.
What do you think will be the toughest part about switching to natural sweeteners? Do you think you can make the switch in one week or is it going to take more time than that? Do you have easy access to honey and maple syrup or is it difficult to find?
I promise to keep bringing you the best and most accurate information on nutrition I can find……….and hopefully with a little bit of humor along the way as well. You can find lots of great information on this blog (check out the tabs above and the archives). You can follow what others are doing for the Real Food Experience using #RealFoodExperience. Make sure to subscribe by email so you don’t miss anything. You can also find lots of great tips, tricks, advice, and fun on my Facebook page and my other social media. Please join us and share us with your friends!