How to sweeten up life without sugar
I think we all know the damaging effects of sugar by now. If not, then I suggest you dive into one of the many documentaries out there, for example 'That sugar film' or just throw in a little Google. The more knowledge you have, the more powerful choices you can make.
"Our health - and indeed our entire lives - can be seen as the sum of all our moment-to-moment decisions. This includes how we choose to eat and drink, think and feel, act and react, and move and rest on any given day." - Radical Remission, Kelly A.Turner, Ph. D. -
It is clear that sugar should be a rare treat in our diet, but how can we sweeten life a little bit
while avoiding sugar? Because we all enjoy it and I do believe life is to be enjoyed and lived fully with the most delicious experiences (food and all else). This doesn't mean life has to be sugar loaded, actually your taste buds will change as you eliminate sugar and something that might have tasted not sweet at all before all of the sudden becomes the sweetest treat ever.
But that's another story! Today is about giving you options that will not pike your glucose levels (too much). First get clear on what sugar forms are out there. Companies are very creative in there labeling, so when you look at ingredients, don't just look for 'sugar', but also for: sucrose, fructose, any syrup, dextrose, maltodextrose and so on.
For cancer patients (but really anyone) it is even more important to avoid sugar as cancer cells feed of them. We are still not sure yet whether sugar causes cancer, but we do know that once you have cancer, cancer cells avoid 10-50 times more glucose than normal cells do. Cancer cells get their energy from breaking down large amounts of glucose, so in order to 'starve' them it makes sense to avoid as much glucose spiking sugary foods.
So what can you use then? There is a few levels you can play at here. Firstly you could replace all not natural sugars (basically anything other than fruit) by honey, preferably raw, organic and locally sourced by responsible imkers. Or swap for agave syrup, but be mindful as the fructose in here is much higher than in sucrose. These options still make your blood sugar rise, so it's always a case of using any sweetener mindfully and not more than a teaspoon at a time.
Taking it a step further, you can give up the above mentioned alternatives and go for xylitol, stevia or lakanto. You probably think: 'hold on, what!?'. I get it, these ingredients don't even look like normal words. To be honest, I haven't worked with these much yet and I am going to dive into them over the next few weeks to experiment, I will give you an update soon! I've personally never liked the taste of stevia, but again that's personal.
For now let's stick to some easier and more known options to sweeten up life. I use some tricks for if I do crave something a bit more treat-like or sweeter, but want to keep it as low sugar as possible. It's all about adding flavor and taste! My go-to's are:
Cinnamon - it even stabilizes your blood sugar, so you have a double win here
Raw cacao - for example adding it to porridge, smoothies, making a hot chocolate with almond milk.. get creative!
99% dark chocolate - a little square melted in my coffee.. yum! Or on it's own, savored mindfully. If you're used to milk chocolate and horror with the thought of dark chocolate, start with upping the % one little bit at a time. Your taste buds will adapt, I promise. The higher the cacao content, the lower the sugar.
Berries - full of amazing nutrients and low in sugar levels. They are my go to fruit, preferably from frozen and organic, also because of their anti-inflammatory benefits. Puree them with chiaseeds for a jam-like pudding, top them on pancakes or porridge or use them in smoothies.
Maca - this powder stabilizes your hormones and has an sweet like earthy flavor. Use no more than a teaspoon!
Fennel or camomile tea - for in the evening, preparing for a good night sleep and improving digestion as well as tasting sweet.
Banana (very little) - higher in glucose, but the best sweetener out there without reaching outside of fruit.
Of course you can use any type of fruit and fruit has amazing nutrients in there. If you research the glycemic index of fruits, you can see which ones are higher/lower in sugar levels. I just wanted to give you some options that might feel unknown as 'sweeteners' for you and inspire you to get more creative with flavoring. Dried fruit is always an option too, but the sugar levels in here are actually really high, much higher than you would think! Medjool dates are gorgeous for example, but only used vary sparingly in baking.
I would love to hear from you if you have any other tips or tricks that you use, especially recipes using xylitol, stevia or lakanto!