SUGAR SCHOOL LESSON 4: HOW TO SWAP SWEETS AND TREATS
Welcome back to ✨SUGAR SCHOOL.✨ Sugar School is a 4-week series where I am teaching you exactly how to break up with sugar. In our last lesson we learned how to be a sugar sleuth and find hidden sources of sugar as well as how to combat cravings. This is your final and most important lesson yet: How to swap sweets and treats, and class is back in session. The RETHINK YOUR DRINK CHALLENGE began August 1 and will end August 31. The challenge workbook/beverage glossary/ list of sugar synonyms/ YOUR BFF for decoding nutrition labels is attached to this blog post. 🙂 I know what you are thinking, if I am swapping all my favorite sugary foods what I am supposed to eat instead!?!? That is exactly what today’s lesson is all about. The most important tips I can give you not just in your breaking up with sugar but in life: FOCUS on what you are adding rather than what you are taking away. Rather than obsessing over all the foods you are missing out on, get excited about the new and exciting foods you will be adding or recipes you might be trying. Find new favorites without all the added sugar. The goal is not to just white knuckle it & force yourself to not eat sweets, but rather to find new things to ADD & enjoy. Implement SWEET TOOTH HELPERS. Fresh fruits have natural sugar and can help a sweet tooth while adding vitamins & minerals. A couple of my favorites are frozen grapes or air fried strawberries, apples or peaches. You can also try adding naturally sweet flavor foods such as cinnamon, cocoa powder, vanilla, and unsweetened coconut flakes. These foods have a sweet flavor on your taste buds, but don’t actually have sugar. Now its time to put everything you have learned to the test and make some product swaps! RETHINK YOUR DRINK First, I want you to start by RETHINKING YOUR DRINKS. There are so many amazing seltzers on the market now there is no reason for you to continue drinking sugar sweetened sodas. Bubly, AHA, ZEVIA, Lacroix are just a few really great options. You can also try infusing water or seltzer water with fresh fruit and herbs such as lemon and blueberries, Strawberries and basil, or cucumber and lime. Rather than reaching for that high sugar frappe or coffee save some coin by making your own at home using unsweetened almond milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Other high sugar beverages to swap include energy drinks, juice, and sports drinks such as Gatorade. Find No added Sugar Condiments Next, try restocking your favorite condiments such as ketchup, salad dressing, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, pasta sauce and steak sauce to the no added sugar versions. This does not mean artificially sweetened products, just ones with no added sugar. Read those labels! Primal Kitchen is an example of a brand at many grocery stores that sells condiments without any added sugars. The brand Bolthouse Farms also has some lower cal swaps for your favorite creamier dressings like ranch and Caesar Pasta sauce, ketchup and salad dressings are commonly overlooked categories. Swap Pre-packaged food items Next, begin looking at you pre-packaged goods such as yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, granola, plant milk & nut butter. Swap sweetened fruit on the bottom yogurt with unsweetened Greek yogurt and mashed fresh fruit. Make your own oatmeal using rolled oats, cinnamon, and apple slices rather the pre-packaged apple cinnamon oatmeal. Swap pre-made granola with build your own “trail mix” using nuts, seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes, and cocoa nibs. Certain peanut butter brands such as JIF contain added sugar in the ingredients list. Reach for the brands whose only ingredient is peanuts because that’s all that should be in there. Find or create recipes for your favorite foods that are not premade or sold in stores. Swap strawberry ice cream from the carton for banana nice cream made with frozen banana, almond milk, and strawberries. (or whatever other flavor you are craving) If you are obsessed with Reese’s cups – you can make a great alternative using coconut oil, peanut butter, and protein powder. If you are a cookie dough fanatic, you can make an excellent swap made from chickpeas. Peanut butter stuffed dates are also an amazing, sweet treat. Whatever you are looking for, I promise it is out there. ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS Now this brings me to the use of artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, Equal and Sweet'N'Low. Research has shown that the use of artificial sweeteners negatively impact gut microbiota, increase sugar cravings and decrease perception of sweetness over time. In addition, they are mistaken by the taste buds as sugar resulting in a release of insulin putting you at risk for decreased insulin sensitivity (diabetes type 2) over time. While I encourage you to limit use of artificial sweeteners there is an alternative. The only artificial sweeteners I recommend are stevia or monk fruit which are both zero-calorie, naturally based sweeteners. It is still important to use these in moderation since they can still alter your perception of natural sweetness. Breaking up with sugar does not mean the fun is over, you are just getting started. Remember: It is not just about avoidance. This is about being in control and enjoying sugar on your own terms. Here is your HOMEWORK: Find sugar-free swaps for your favorite sweets, treats and packaged items. ✨bonus points✨ if you find a recipe and create your own. Congratulations, you have officially completed the Sugar School series! You have graduated from Sugar School, and you are now a Certified Sugar Expert. Your diploma is below. Feel free to print it out, fill in your name and hang it proud from your desk or refrigerator. You earned this certificate of honor ! Do not forget to put all that you have learned to good use. Until next time, class is dismissed.