It's Day 2 of the 10-Day Clean Eating Quickstart, and I rolled out the big guns - eliminating sugar. It's no secret that sugar, in all its forms, is not good for you. What you may be surprised to hear is that sugar is in everything from ketchup to dry seasoning blends. (Check your labels for these 61 names for "sugar.")
Eliminating sugar from your diet will enhance your mental clarity, stabilize your blood sugar, boost metabolism, and so much more.
You might be thinking, "It will be IMPOSSIBLE to cut sweets completely!" Not so. All you have to do, is be smarter about your alternatives.
What about "sugar free" substitutes? Eating clean does not include processed chemical sweeteners. I know what you're thinking, but stick with me things will get better. Cutting sugar from your life will NOT suck!
What about honey or agave? Some in the clean eating community engage in these sweeteners. I do not, and I'll tell you why. Not all honey is created equal. In fact, about 75% of what you see on grocery store shelves is heavily processed with nearly all of it being made in China.
Honey has many healing and healthy attributes, when it is raw and unfiltered. However, it also contains a high amount of fructose which increases insulin resistance. If you're diabetic or overweight, honey should be avoided. If you're healthy, honey can be beneficial in moderation.
"Agave though! It's good for you, right?" Wrong. The research on agave has come full circle, and an ingredient which health pros used to tout is not as good as we thought. Although agave is low in glucose, it's alternately higher in fructose than any other sweetener, including high-fructose corn syrup. It not only increases insulin resistance, but also is converted to fat more rapidly.
What are my other options? You have lots of clean options! Xylitol is a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol that has a similar look and taste to that of sugar, but does not come with the harmful dental or blood sugar side effects. Some in the community are uneasy about the way it's made, and worry that it may carry heavy metals, but it's a personal choice. For some, xylitol alone can be rough on the gut. If it is, there are still other options. Xyla, Trim Healthy Mama, and Xylosweet are a few of the market options
Erythritol is also a sugar alcohol like xylitol that is both non-glycemic and non-caloric. That means is has zero affect on the blood sugar and carries no calories. It has a taste and texture similar to that of sugar, minus the harmful side effects. Erythritol is also the easiest sugar alcohol to digest. Truvia, Pyure, Trim Healthy Mama, and Swerve are good options to name a few. NOTE* You still must be a label reader - Truvia makes a "Baking Blend" which contains sugar.
Stevia is a sweetener from a plant that carries no calories. It's 200 times sweeter than sugar, so there is an adjustment to learning how much to use. With it being so sweet, it's sometimes surrounded by other additives like maltitol (Stevia in the Raw, lookin' at you!) which are not beneficial. It's best to buy stevia extract liquid or powder. Stevia is widely available in places like Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Whole Foods, Publix, and Walmart. Again, be a label reader - brands like PureVia and Stevia in the Raw both actually contain sugar. Just because the product contains stevia, doesn't mean it's ONLY stevia.
Just because you're cutting sugar doesn't mean sweets are off limits. You have choices, and sugar or chemicals do not have to be one of them.