Another week of The Real Food Experience Challenge has come and gone. These weeks are flying by! This week is a real challenge for me and many of the people I know. I struggle with sugar……….bad. I cook and bake with natural sweeteners all of the time. In fact, I don’t even keep white sugar in my house. However, it still seems to creep into my house with way too much frequency. Candy comes home from school, cookies are handed out after sports practice……..sweets are everywhere. When I have a craving, it is usually for something sweet. Why can’t I beat this sugar addiction? I hear from many of you that you are also fighting the sugar battle. Let’s see if we can grab some control of all of the sugar in our lives this week.
Why switch to natural sweeteners?
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. Some say even more addicting than cocaine. 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. Many have even more than 3 different sugars. Uggh!!
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.
What are Natural Sweeteners?
There is a lot of debate about what is natural sugar among real food experts. However, for the purposes of this challenge you are to eat only foods that are sweetened with honey or 100% pure maple syrup. “Pancake syrup” made by companies like Aunt Jemima is not maple syrup. I’m talking about the stuff that actually comes out of a maple tree. This challenge will likely have you remaking many of your favorite recipes this week. This challenge will also force you to limit overall sugar consumption. As you are reading labels, you will notice all sorts of hidden sugars in your foods. You will not use those foods this week if they are not sweetened with maple syrup or honey.
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. Not easy, but certainly possible. Additional sweeteners to consider for your recipes this week are ripe bananas, applesauce, and Medjool dates. All three are excellent sweeteners for smoothies, pancakes, and baking. Think outside of the traditional sugar bowl for the sweetness that you crave.
OK…time to get started. 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 #RFEChallenge. 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, the Real Food Experience Facebook group, and my other social media. Please join us and share us with your friends!
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