A simple guide to making healthy swaps in your everyday diet that can help you lower the amount of sugar you eat. All natural and lower sugar containing foods are great, healthier choices to their traditional sugar filled alternatives.
I was reading a magazine recently and saw and Ad that exclaimed “SWEET SWAPS!”. I thought how great that a company is promoting healthy alternatives to sugar and sugary foods. Unfortunately, I soon realized this Ad was for Splenda. Womp, womp. ?
I am not a fan of artificial sweeteners at all and can honestly say I’ve never (and probably will never) use Splenda in my life. Honestly, give me the real thing or a natural alternative any day!
I know for some people this isn’t an option, however. Whether someone is diabetic, trying to lose weight, or simply trying to reduce sugar intake, I know that artificial sweeteners are viable options. But before you go replacing all sugar in your diet with the fake stuff, hear me out. I think there are healthier ways to go about reducing sugar (added sugar) in your diet.
So instead of swapping out sugar for Splenda (aspartame) as the Ad suggested, what if you could just make a few simple swaps in your everyday diet that would reduce the amount of added sugar you consume? I try to avoid added sugar (and sweeteners in general) whenever possible and I’ve found that it’s helped me in so many areas of my nutrition and wellness.
It’s crazy how your taste buds change when you stop using artificial sugars and start eating natural ones. Your palate becomes much more sensitive to sweet tastes and can really appreciate the true flavor of fresh foods. Fruits and veggies are plenty sweet all on their own! And did you know that using artificial sweeteners, like Splenda, actually makes your CRAVE sugar more? Totally defeats the purpose!
So instead of resorting to those chemical-filled alternatives, I’ve come up with a simple list of things that I use in my daily life to limit added sugars. Sugar from natural sources is healthy and necessary for our bodies to run optimally! So it’s not about eliminating it completely, but just making sure we’re getting it from the right sources. These are my kind of “Sweet Swaps”….
Regular jam—> No added sugar fruit spread/butter
Go for brands like Polaner All Fruit Spread (only sweetened with fruit juice), Smucker’s Simply Fruit, or Kaufman’s Unsweetened Fruit Butters. They are plenty sweet without any added sweeteners or sugars!
Flavored yogurt—> Plain greek yogurt blended or mixed with fruit
Flavored yogurts can have as much sugar in them as a candy bar. Talk about blood sugar spikes from something that’s supposed to be a healthy snack! It might be a little hard to transition at first, but soon you’ll grow to love the tangy flavor of plain yogurt. And since you’re starting with a blank slate, you have the option to add all sorts of fun ingredients and toppings.
Non-dairy creamer—> Non-fat dry milk powder
I actually discovered this ‘food hack’ for my dad! He was an avid non-dairy creamer user, but that stuff is pretty much powdered HEART ATTACK. It’s made from hydrogenated oils, full of trans-fats, with the second ingredient being high fructose corn syrup solids. To still get that creamy texture in your coffee, use non-fat dry milk powder! It blends into coffee the same way and is simply made from non-fat milk. Vegan? Try coconut milk powder!
Pop/Soda—> Sparkling water with ACV
You all know my love of Apple Cider Vinegar and seltzer cocktails! The ACV enhances the taste of the seltzer and actually makes it taste like pop. I am a big fan of all the flavors offered by La Croix…all are zero calories and have no added sugars.
Ketchup—> Salsa, tomato paste, or unsweetened ketchup
This one may seem hard since ketchup is such a staple condiment, but I promise these alternatives are just as tasty. Tomato paste is such a great option for spreading on toast, tortillas, and even homemade pizzas. It’s got a rich tomato flavor and it’s thickness makes it perfect for spreading or dipping. Make sure you look for salsas with no added sugar and low-sodium. As for unsweetened ketchup, I like Primal Kitchen and Westbrae Naturals.
Pancake syrup—> Warmed frozen fruit
100% pure maple syrup is one thing…but traditional pancake syrup that you get in the store is something totally different. It’s often made with high fructose corn syrup and has no real health benefits aside from being a sugar bomb on your breakfast. Instead, simply microwave a serving of your favorite frozen fruit for about a minute or so and you’ll be left with a warm fruit topping made from only one ingredient and with no added sugar! Or opt for 100% pure maple syrup when available.
Energy gels—> Dates or fruit purees
This is for my athletes and runners out there. Forget those sugar laden energy chews, gels, and jelly beans. Instead opt for dates (even peanut butter stuffed ones!), or your other favorite dried fruit, for a quick source of simple carbs and sugars! Fruit purees (yes the ones that come in the squeeze packs in the baby aisle) are also a great option for intra-workout nutrition.
Instant oatmeal—> Old fashioned rolled oats
Same with the yogurt, going for flavored instant oatmeal packets means you’re getting a cool variety at the expense of a ton of sugar. Instead, go for whole grain old-fashioned or quick cook rolled oats! They’re higher in fiber and nutrients anyway and their plainness allows you to customize them in any way you choose. I’m a big fan of pumpkin oats.
Bottled salad dressings—> Homemade dressing
This is a money saver as well as a sugar reducer! Most bottled salad dressings have added sugar (even in the form of HFCS sometimes). Even if the salad dressing seems savory, chances are it has added sugar. So instead, make a simple vinaigrette from staple ingredients you have on hand at home. I like a mix of oil, dijon, white balsamic vinegar, and lots of herbs and spices. Alternatively you can mix humus and tomato sauce or salsa together for a creamy dressing!
Sugar in recipes—> Fruit/fruit puree/freeze-dried
This swap is something I live by. I rarely use sugar or sweeteners in my baked goods (unless I’m going the more traditional route) and always opt for fruit to do the sweetening. Dates, bananas, apple sauce, and even freeze-dried fruit works awesome in nearly every sort of baked good. Sometimes you just have to adjust the level of liquid used, but overall, fruit adds great sweetness, little calories, and usually makes your food super moist!
Hopefully these simple swaps give you some ideas on how to eat a bit healthier without having to add artificial or zero-calorie sweeteners into your diet. Of course, everything is okay in moderation, but why go for the fake stuff made in a lab when you can choose real food instead? I for one am a FOOD FAN. 😉
Do you use Splenda or other artificial sweeteners?
What’s your favorite sweetener to bake with?
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