Monday, September 2, 2013

Using Less Sugar in Foods and Drinks Without Switching to Artificial Sweeteners

Natural sugar - sucrose - sure tastes delicious!

So great you can eat it straight from the box, bag, or canister! Yum!

No wonder there was a time I used so much sugar to sweeten my drinks that I would tell people questioning this behavior that the beverage, usually tea, required those excess heaping soup spoons, almost equivalent to a tablespoon, of shiny white granules because I'm so sweet that adding too little sugar would make it impossible for me to taste its sweetness! HA! What a laugh! Sometimes I am simply too vain... :} ...and what a mouthful...words not sugar! But did you get that? I said near Tablespoons NOT Teaspoons!

But seriously... During those younger days I truly did not realize my sugar usage was simply way-way too much. It was not until one of my daughters grew up and pointed it out to me that I began to question my sugar use habits. She used one minuscule teaspoon of sugar in her tea compared to my near three heaping tablespoons! Wow! What a difference in sugar usage!

At any rate, that was then and this is now...

Today I use little to no sugar in beverages that used to enjoy virtually three heaping tablespoon additions. But that's not all... Amazingly enough, I no longer add table sugar to my cereals either! The only sweetener I add to cereal these days is whatever comes from 2% milk or bananas (my favorite cereal fruit). Refraining from adding sugar to my cereal is as unbelievable to me as cutting back on sweetening my drinks. The fact is I used to pour sugar into my cereal bowls as if I were adding the cereal itself... Now maybe that sounds a bit hyperbolic, but I did use excessive amounts of sugar in my cereal until recent months preceding this post.

Now why did I cut back? Did I become diabetic or something you might ask...

Three Reasons I Cut Back On Sugar

1) I simply wanted to see if I could cut back on sugar (and if so how much) or had the sugar industry, along with my parents, brainwashed me into thinking I needed to sweeten my foods and drinks to make them more palatable.

2) I saw cutting back on sugar as an easy way to decrease calorie intake which is important as we age but also helps to keep us healthy at any point in our lives. After all, we are aging from the moment of conception... Are we not?

3) I also wanted to experience how foods really taste without additional sugar sprinkled in to enhance their flavors.

When I decided to partake in this sugar usage decrease, I knew that regardless of the outcome no doubt existed in my mind that I had been using too much table sugar. I excepted the importance of my cutting back and knew if this experiment did not work that I would pursue a different sugar reduction tactic. In fact, I had already cut back on my sugar consumption form soft drinks by drastically reducing my intake of premixed sodas and punches. Now the time had come for me to use less sugar in my drinks when I had control of the ingredients.

After my experiment, I can honestly say that using less sugar may be easier, a lot easier, than you might think. So, if you are one of those people who wants to cut back, and especially if you believe you will have to trade natural sugar for a sugar substitute, rest assured that imitating my tactic may pleasantly surprise your taste buds.

My Take on Artificial Sweeteners

On a side note, I tried an artificial sweetener once in a restaurant just for the fun of it while awaiting my meal. Like many people, I was simply curious to know how the sugar substitute tasted. If I recall correctly, the particular brand I tried was one of the first popular types - Sweet 'N Low. You know... The sugar substitute in the little pink packet that restaurateurs place on the table along with sugar and other sweeteners for their customers.

After trying the Sweet 'N Low I knew that natural sugar would always be for me and that my taste buds had no desires for sugar substitutes. I never even bothered to try NutraSweet, Equal, Splenda, or any of the other artificial sweeteners after that.

Another point to mention is that although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified artificial sweeteners to be generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when consumed under "normal" circumstances, it concerns me that for roughly twenty years, saccharin, otherwise known as Sweet 'N Low and Sugar Twin, was considered "unsafe" after causing bladder cancer in rats. All I can wonder about that FDA finding is what happens when these sweeteners are not consumed under so called normal circumstances? Do they then become unsafe to consume? How much would circumstances outside of the norm entail? I, for one, am of the mind that if you are going to use sugar you might as well enjoy the real thing. With said, however, I completely understand switching to artificial sweeteners for health reasons such as diabetes when one had not otherwise intended to decrease their amount of food sweetening intake.

Whether or not you consume as much or more [God forbid!] sugar with beverages you make at home as I used to swallow, you should know that you can safely cut back on sugar usage without using substitutes. Try to look at the situation from the perspective that if you are cutting back on sugar to become a healthier human being it simply may not make sense to trade natural sugar for artificial sugar containing ingredients that one day may once again be deemed harmful to your body... Well at least, that's my perspective...

My Sugar Cutting Back Method

Using Less Sugar in Tea

The method I used to cut back on sugar in drinks began with the number of tablespoons I used for each serving. Likewise, I cut back on the height of the heap above spoon level. I stopped using three spoons of sugar and instead started using two. Wasn't sure I could manage with two heaping spoons of sugar in a single cup of tea - if you can believe that! But I managed... It seemed strange at first but after a couple of days I didn't even think about the change anymore. Using nearly two tablespoons of sugar to sweeten my drink became the new norm.

A few weeks later I decided to lower my sugar portions to two "teaspoons"... Wow! teaspoons not tablespoons! That was definitely an impressive change! Once again... and even more to my surprise, I did not miss the additional sugar. I guess that must have been another teaspoon of granules I had eliminated from my tea while cutting back on granule heap height.

Shortly after cutting back to two teaspoons, I cut back to one teaspoon! This was remarkable to me... Here I was eliminating all this sugar from my daily consumption and I didn't even have to do it! I simply told myself I was going to start using less sugar in my tea and proceeded to do so. Eventually, I cut back to about a quarter teaspoon of sugar.

[I also cut back on sugar usage in coffee. That was a bit more troubling so in the end, I decided to stop drinking coffee.]

Using Less Sugar in Cereal

As far as cutting back on the sugar usage with cereal goes, I began this feat with oatmeal. Whole oats not one of the instant types. As with hot beverages, I had been using boat loads of sugar in cereal as if the granules were going out of style. Despite eating right by choosing healthy types of cereal I allowed my sugar usage to lessen the cereal's healthiness value. I mean, it isn't as though sugar is all that nutritious or anything... Mostly, it's merely sweet calories. I knew, as with the tea, that I should stop adding excessive amounts (roughly two tablespoons) to a regular sized serving of oatmeal.

In good conscious, I must qualify what I mean by a regular sized serving of oatmeal. So picture this... You are reading the nursery rhyme "Little Miss Muffet" and the story illustrator has drawn a picture of the curds and whey filling the girl's bowl. The bowl usually contains a generous portion... This is what I mean by a regular sized serving of oatmeal... This is the way my father fed me and my siblings oatmeal when we were children.

After telling myself to reduce the amount of sugar I used in my oatmeal, I decided to and proceeded to cut back until now... Drum Roll... as with the tea... I only use about a quarter teaspoon of sugar in my oatmeal... and taking things a bit further... I no longer eat what used to be a normal regular size serving of oatmeal. Now I only consume about 1/4 of what I used to devour!

Woo Wee!!

But getting back on track...

You Can Cut Back on Table Sugar Too!

If you want to cut back on table sugar and you do not want to switch to artificial sweeteners because of any of the following reasons:

* You decided eating less sugar would help you lose weight

* You want to lower sugar in your diet before you find yourself with sugar-related health problems

* You want to save money on sugar - it can be expensive

* You want to enjoy eating less sugar so you can better taste natural food ingredients

* You want to get used to tasting food without sugar no matter what the food tastes like

* You want to better taste beverages and get used to their flavors with little or no added sugar

Have Confidence!

You Can Do it!!