Are you still shaking a pink packet into your coffee like it’s 1989? With studies linking artificial sweeteners to increased sugar cravings and weight gain, it may be time to detox your diet from the fake stuff once and for all. Due to many unpleasant side affects (headaches and bloating are never a good look!); artificial sweeteners may be a habit that is relatively easy to kick so long as you know where they may be lingering in your diet. These nasty sugar alcohols that make up common brands like Splenda, Equal and Sweet N Low are easy to spot in the ingredient list of other diet or light foods as they tend to end in same, familiar ‘TOL. So what do I add to my coffee to keep it tasty but keep my waistline slim? The key is to use natural, unprocessed sugars (yup, the white table sugar needs to go too!) and in a controlled amount. Think 1-2 tsp once or twice a day, whether in a cup of coffee, an afternoon snack like non-fat Greek yogurt or on a slice of whole wheat French toast in the morning. Below you will find a few of my favorite natural sweeteners:
Stevia: A natural, zero calorie sweetener “extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana”. I find the taste to be a tad bitter, but others I have spoken to find it to be a fine substitute in their morning java or tea.
Maple Syrup: Straight from the tap (sorta), this natural sweetener adds a complex flavor to your morning steel cut oats or can be used as a substitute for refined sugar in recipes.
1 tbsp.=52 calories
Date sugar: Made by grinding dried dates, this is a natural sugar you can make right in your own kitchen. Date sugar is best used in recipes to replace refined sugar or can even be used sprinkled on top of your morning toast.
1 tsp.=15 calories
Honey: This may be my most favorite sweetener because of how versatile it is….not to mention the bear bottle is just too cute! I use honey in my latte, drizzled on my whole grain French toast and even in some marinades. There are some rumors that honey may be beneficial in providing some seasonal allergy relief, but there has not been enough evidence as of yet to support this…fingers crossed!
1 tsp.=21 calories
Agave: This Mexican nectar is best used as a vegan alternative to honey or to sweeten cold beverages like ice tea, or a skinny margarita! There was some thought that agave nectar, aside from its delicious benefits, may have a lower glycemic index and may be a wise choice for people who are insulin resistant, however, like the honey rumor mill, there has not been enough evidence to fully support these findings.
1 tsp.= 21 calories
I said it once, and I will say it again (and again!), we really do need to be mindful of the sugar in our diet, but there is always a time and place for something naturally sweet.