Most of us will put our hands up and say it: we have a sweet tooth. Not only does sugar taste good, but there are evolutionary and psychological reasons that we crave the sweet stuff too! On a basic instinctual level, the ripest fruits have the highest energy content levels, meaning that they are preferable in terms of fuel. Sugar also stimulates the release of dopamine (a “feel good” chemical) in our brains, meaning that we feel rewarded when we consume it. However, nowadays we are much more aware of the negative effects that excessive sugar consumption can have on our health. In a bid to, well… have our cake and eat it, companies have started producing artificial sweeteners. These products claim to give you the taste of sugar without the negative health effects. But as with everything in our diet, it’s best to keep things natural where possible. Here’s everything you need to know about artificial sweeteners and why you should throw them to the curb in favour of more natural alternatives.
Identifying Artificial Sweeteners
There are four major groups of FDA approved artificial sweeteners currently on the market: aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and acesulfame potassium. You will be able to find if what you’re eating contains any by simply looking at the listed ingredients. They’re most commonly present in fizzy drinks and artificial sweetener powders or tablets.
Sure, anything sweet is going to have negative effects on your health if you consume it excessively. However, there are options that are natural and sweet while containing less sugar than refined white sugar. So how about a little compromise. Perhaps it’s time for you to try out the maple syrup diet. Now, when you think of maple syrup, you may think that it’s the most sugar-packed, unhealthy food product out there. You may be surprised to find out that it contains 34% less sugar than refined white sugar! What’s more? It’s an incredibly versatile ingredient. While it is most commonly seen drizzled over a stack of pancakes, it also goes incredibly well with cakes, strawberries or even as a glaze on camembert. Mix it into porridges and smoothies. Use it as a dressing on your salad. The possibilities are pretty much endless!
Sticking with the Savoury
If you want to cut as much sugar out of your diet as possible, the sad truth is that you might have to learn to control your sweet tooth. The good news? There are plenty of delicious savoury snacks and treats out there. You may just have to condition yourself to them a little. After a little while, sugar cravings will be a thing of the past, and instead, you’ll be reaching for cheese and crackers, crisps, olives, stuffed sweet peppers, and hummus.
So, there you have it. These simple steps can help you to keep your diet as natural as possible. Keep things varied and remember that the best way to eat is to keep everything in moderation.