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Ask a Naturopathic Doctor: Great alternatives to white sugar!

by Katherine Willow ND

As we approach the holidays, lots of people ask about alternatives to sugar, that pesky additive which turns our best intentions to mush, leaches our energy, turns many kids (and adults) into moody maniacs, is the major cause of heart disease after stress, makes it very hard to lose weight, feeds cancer cells and stresses the pancreas.

Replace, replenish and resist!

If that sounds like a battle cry, it most certainly is. We need to decrease the cravings first and then we can avoid. Here’s a plan that helps most people:

Replace white sugar with unrefined options. Different people have markedly different responses to this list. Notice how you tolerate each and get tested if you’re not clear.

  1. Dried cane juice, marketed as Sucanat. It contains a lot of the vitamins that white sugar steals from the body. Brown sugars look similar, but aren’t as nutritious.
  2. Blackstrap molasses, full of minerals; not the fancy variety, which is sweeter.
  3. Maple syrup, which has as much calcium as mother’s milk!
  4. Agave syrup isn’t as good, too much fructose.
  5. Stevia is perfect if you like the taste — doesn’t react like sugar in the body at all, it has a totally different chemistry and a good safety record.
  6. Unpasteurized honey, as all the beneficial enzymes are maintained. Helps weight loss for some people.
  7. Aspartame is a poison and kills brain cells. Other artificial sweeteners have problems too.
  8. Xylitol is ok and available in health food stores and safer than sugar.
  9. Fructose is not good and leads directly to weight gain.

Replenish your body. Being tired and depleted leads to sugar cravings.

  1. Sleep 7-9 hours/night, with as many hours in the pre-midnight recharging time as possible.
  2. Regular breaks for corpse poses, just breathing, walking and napping.
  3. Break the stress habit. Easier said than done, but probably the biggest thing we can do for our health, overall potential and peace of mind
  4. Eat digestible proteins to balance blood sugar and rebuild tired organs. Examples: soft-cooked organic eggs, tender stews of grass-fed animals (with thanks!), organic yogurt or kefir, nut butters (easier to digest than nuts), small lentils and legumes with spices for easier digesting, protein powders in room temperature drinks/puddings.
  5. Supplements & remedies to strengthen weak internal organs that are related to sugar metabolism: pancreas, liver and adrenals.
  6. Slow down your exercise program to a stroll and add restorative yoga.
  7. Treat yourself well emotionally and put effort into healing relationships. Sometimes sugar cravings relate to lack of love…or old traumas.

Finally, resist.

  1. When you feel energetic and strong again, you will be able to let sugar and even excess sugar alternatives out of your diet, starting to enjoy the natural sweetness of foods, people, nature, breathing and LIFE!
  2. Once we are stable on very little sugar, we can undertake successful cleanses where we don’t rebound into sweets. With every gentle cleanse, our bodies become more resilient and it becomes even easier to pass on those sugar treats.
  3. The holidays are a great time to set a moderate limit on sweets in order to emerge on the other side without being plunged back into cravings!

Resources include the Mercola.com website, the ‘Nourishing Traditions’ cookbook, the old best-seller ‘Sugar Blues’ and many other books and websites via the internet.

Katherine Willow is a fourth generation naturopathic doctor — she directs Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre where people can come for realistic and fun healing programs.

Visit us at www.ecowellness.com