Beat your sugar cravings the natural way | Healthy Diet

Beat your sugar cravings the natural way

Take a look at some of the natural alternatives to sugar, and the benefits of using them


Healthy Diet

By Healthy Diet

Beat your sugar cravings the natural way

It is vital not to include too much sugar in our diets, but it can be difficult to cut it out because sugar is in so many ready meals and prepared sauces. There are also plenty of chocolate bars, cereal bars and snacks which are all too easy to grab wherever we shop. So, how can we can still get a little sweet fix without consuming refined sugar? And can this help to minimise our cravings? We take a look at five of the more natural alternatives that can be included in your diet, when you want to please your sweet tooth without using refined sugars.

Stevia is a sweetener and sugar alternative which is extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant. Although it is made into a sugar-like substance, it is still regarded as a natural sweetener, and it can be used instead of refined sugar in many different ways. It is very sweet to taste, so you don’t need to use much of it in your recipes and it has the added bonus of being totally calorie-free. It is also rich in antioxidants, so it can help to protect your body from free radicals.

Packed with antioxidants, vitamins and zinc, raw honey is a fantastic product to use to sweeten desserts naturally. It is low in calories, and is also fat-free, cholesterol-free and sodium-free! This sweet treat is collected straight from the extractor in the honey making process, so it is unheated and unpasteurised. This means it often looks cloudier than most of the honey you can buy in supermarkets. As raw honey is unpasteurised, there is a greater risk of botulism, so do make sure that any you use is stored carefully and consumed before the use by date.

This natural sweetener (made from boiling the sap of the maple tree) is high in antioxidants, and used in a number of ways – from making pastries and cakes, to glazing carrots. It contains calcium, iron and zinc, as well as vitamin B6, which you will not find in other types of sugar, and is even thought to have immune-boosting properties. Maple syrup shouldn’t be consumed in large and frequent quantities, however, as it is still high in sugars, so do use it in moderation when cooking. As well as being used in the kitchen, maple syrup is a key ingredient in home-made facial scrubs so you can even add it to your beauty routine.

Dates are brimming with vitamins, as well as iron, potassium, magnesium and more. They make a tasty snack and a quick, sweet pick-me-up on their own, but can also be added to cakes, pies, bread and curries to enhance the flavour. If you enjoy exercising, you may find that a small handful of dates will give you a fantastic energy boost without leaving you feeling sluggish in the same way that refined sugar products can. Dates are also used to support regular bowel movements and promote digestive health.

Bananas are rich in potassium and fibre, so they make a great alternative to sugar, giving you nutrients as well as adding sweetness. Bananas are naturally very low in fat and protein, while also being packed with Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C. If you, or any family members, are trying to get more fruit into your diet in line with the recent advice to eat 10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, the simple inclusion of the purée in other things you are already eating – such as baked goods.

***Obviously all of these sugar alternatives should be consumed in moderation, but they do offer a way to help you cut the amount of refined sugar in your diet. Before you make any radical changes, please consult your GP as he or she will be able to offer advice which is specifically tailored to your needs.