Guest post from Debra Worth
Photo by by davidpacey via flickr cc
January is one of the most health conscious months out there. It is a the beginning of a new year and that includes many choices of healthier living for the next twelve months.
Do you have some health goals for 2014? I think one of the best things most people can do is to cut back on sugar. I think sugar is a grand food, especially in natural forms such as honey, molasses, and fruit. But, I think it should be kept as special treats.
Last year I decided to cut out sugar, with the exception of honey, for the year. There were some mistakes, but I largely stuck with it until we discovered many foods my daughters could not have, then getting some sucanant (a more natural sugar) helped me enough it was worth it.
Through the 6 months we did this, as well as doing alternative sweetening options for several years now, I have learned a thing or two. Today I am going to share my top tips with you.
7 Ways to Cut the Sugar!
1. Eat (healthy) savory snacks. Being a nursing Mama with a toddler and preschooler around, I am a big believer in snacks. Keeping snacks (even evening ones) savory is a great way to eat less sugar. Here are my favorite savory snack choices:
Hummus with veggies, homemade crackers, or pitas
Roasted Chickpeas Peanut butter and celery
Carrots (or other vegetables) and Homemade Ranch Cubed Cheeses
Crispy Nuts Crispy Ranch Zucchini Spears
Avocado slices sprinkled with a little salt and lime
Nick-Sticks (healthy beef or turkey snack sticks) (affiliate link)
2. Go for naturally sweet foods. Fruit really satisfies a sweet tooth naturally. I know I eat much less (added) sugar when we have fruits around. Here are some ways to use fruit to satisfy a sweet tooth:
Banana ice cream (I love this)
Sweeten with date paste (such as for these cookies or this pudding)
Using ripe bananas or soaked dates to sweeten smoothies.
Just snack on fruit itself. Mmm . . . cherries beat just about any candy out there.
3. Drink unsweetened drinks.
Sweetened drinks are a huge part of most peoples sugar consumption. Here are some ways to cut back on sweet drinks:
Fall in love with water.
Try flavored waters. I usually use parts of the fruit I do not eat such as the peel of pineapple, tops of strawberries, and apple cores. It definitely does not look as cool, but it is less wasteful. I also occasionally flavor water with fresh mint leaves, lemon slices, and my latest flavor, vanilla extract. They are all quite refreshing.
Unsweetened tea/infusions: I actually grew up with sweet tea and now prefer (some) teas unsweetened. I LOVE unsweetened peppermint infusion! It is simply delicious and so healthy.
My favorite hot drink is actually homemade chicken stock with some real salt. Homemade chicken stock is very healthy for you!
4. Bring on the complimentary flavors. I find that some flavors lesson the need for sugar, they add their own sweetness to a treat allowing you to cut back on the sugar. For example, I find that ginger cookies, with all of it’s spices, takes about half of the sugar other cookies.
Some of my favorite flavors to add to treats are:
Cinnamon – I usually up the cinnamon and cut the sugar.
Vanilla – I frequently triple the vanilla in a recipe and cut back on the sugar.
Coconut oil – I use virgin coconut oil for baking, and that has a natural sweetness to it.
I find chocolate and lemon call for more sugar, so keep those to more rare occasions.
5. Let treats be treats. In other words, don’t have special treats (cookies, cake, candies, chocolate) a few times a day, or even daily.
6. Reach for something else first.
Most of the time I think I MUST have something sweet it is probably because of this scenario- I was hungry after dinner and saw something on Pinterest or Instagram. If I get something other than that single-serve brownie, all of a sudden that “need” for a single serve brownie is not nearly as strong.
7. Eat less sugar. As you eat less sugar, you crave lest sugar and you taste the natural sweetness of foods far better.
Have you ever cut back on sugar for an extended period? What are some tips you have?
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