Are you eating sugar free to overcome a health issue, like diabetes? Or to improve your health in general? More people are eating sugar free, but is this truly a healthy trend?
Is eating sugar free really a life changer?
Sugar tastes sooo good.
Chocolate, candy, gum, soda, juice, dessert, snack bars, cereal, cured meats and so much more. Most likely anything packaged. So…much…sugar.
Sugar adds to acne while diminishing your teeth.
It could be more addicting than cocaine.
Sugar can lead to obesity, which increases your risk for diabetes and other serious health issues.
It sabotages concentration. (The only reason marshmallows should be allowed in schools is for launching them into a trashcan from student-made catapults!)
And most sugars are refined, which means more genetically modified organisms (GMOs) going into our body.
When I eat too much sugar, whether occurring naturally or added, I tend to get worse allergies, dry skin, acne, constipation and female issues – ugh!
Sugar can cause a boatload of other symptoms, too, as noted in my book, Digested – eating healthier made easier 3 ways.
So yes, eating sugar free could drastically change your life. It depends on how much you eat now, and how you define “eating sugar free”.
What does eating sugar free mean?
“Eating sugar free” seems to be used more loosely these days. It could mean:
- looking for “sugar free” on food labels.
- giving up every source of added sugar, including honey and maple syrup.
- avoiding all naturally occurring sugars (in many fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains and dairy products).
- avoiding processed foods, as well as white flours, breads and rice.
- any combination or all of the above.
So be very clear when communicating about dietary preferences, whether you’re on the giving or receiving end.
What’s more crucial than eating sugar free, is reading food labels. Take these cookies as an example. They are sugar free, so that may seem great at first.
But turn the package over and read the ingredients.
The first ingredient is a sugar alcohol. Polydextrose, milk, dextrose, chocolate, cream, sucralose, acesulfame potassium – these may all contain forms of sweetener and/or sugar. And plenty of GMOs too, without doubt. Never mind all the other ingredients in the cookies – not a good one in sight. They may meet the requirements to be labeled “sugar free”, but they are not a good choice.
If you are thinking about eating sugar free as a healthier lifestyle choice, consider avoiding these ingredients:
- white and brown sugar
- high fructose and low fructose corn syrup
- malto-dextrin, dextrose, sucrose, maltose, glucose
- evaporated cane juice, fruit juice
- caramel and carob syrup
- artificial sweeteners such as acesulfame potassium, saccharin, neotame, sucralose (Splenda), galactose, aspartame
- sugar alcohols including sorbitol, maltitol and xylitol.
When you do consume sugar in moderation, consider using ingredients without GMOs:
- raw, organic sugar or coconut sugar;
- organic versions of stevia, raw honey or dates;
- organic maple syrup instead of pancake syrups with high fructose corn syrup;
- canned fruits in fruit juices or water instead of syrup.
Read “Eating healthier: Is paleo the way to go?” for more insight about how to eat sugar in moderation.
For more specific information about types of sugars and sweeteners, check out this article from Mayo Clinic.
Also, if you haven’t already, stop giving sugary treats as rewards for your kids. This only strengthens the love of unhealthy foods. Give them something natural and sweet, like fresh fruit if it must be food. Or reward them with an extra book, extra playtime or a family silly dance session instead. Save the sweets as an occasional “just for fun” thing.
How do-able eating sugar free is depends on the extreme you choose to take it. Eating less sugar and sugar without GMOs can certainly give your health an overhaul. Figure out what’s do-able for you now, give yourself time to adapt and then aim for even less sugar next go-around!
*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.