Stay sweet… without the belly bulge.

14 09 16 sweetener

If you have a sweet tooth, sometimes a piece of fruit isn’t  enough to get rid of that craving for a tasty treat.  But since sugar has such a harmful effect  on our bodies, on days where you find yourself craving something sweet it may be better to try an alternative natural sweetener (and no, we don’t mean aspartame-derived options as they are just as harmful) in your tea and baking recipes. But remember  to always check with a naturopath or health practitioner when making big changes in your diet. Here’s the lowdown on two natural sweeteners to start adopting.

Xylitol

Available most readily under the brand name Xyla, this natural sweetener is derived from North American hardwood (other brands use corn as the source) and is a complete one-to-one sugar substitute that is vegan and gluten- and wheat- free while also being safe for diabetics. When beginning the changeover from sugar, the digestive system needs time to adjust to xylitol, so start using the sweetener gradually to avoid stomach discomfort. The brand Xyla has a variety of products, including bulk sweeteners to tasty lollipops to jams for the entire family, that are available for purchase at most supermarkets across Canada, including Loblaws and Whole Foods Market or online at xylitolcanada.com. Our favourite Xyla product: the Xyla Lollipops ($19.99), which are a big hit with young children. 

Stevia

Derived from the plant Stevia rebaudiana, this sweetener is a smarter choice as smaller amounts are needed in comparison to sugar. Due to its negligible effect on blood sugar, try it  when embracing a low-carbohydrate diet. Stevia is available under a variety of brand names at health food stores and some supermarkets in both a powdered form and drops, but since the powder is more processed, the drops are more holistic. Remember, if taking blood thinners or blood pressure medications, Stevia is not suitable for you.

TIP: Regardless of how healthy these natural sweeteners are, it’s healthier to avoid tempting cravings altogether. Foods that help us skip sugars but still satisfy our cravings include dark chocolate with 85 per cent  cocoa (it’s so rich, one square does the trick), poached pears and a Greek yogurt parfait topped with raspberries, natural honey and seeds, such as cacao nibs and pumpkin seeds.