The Sweet Challenge
How many sweets do you eat a day? I don’t mean deserts, I mean sweet tasting things. Granola bars, fruit, cookies and pastries from the store. Breakfast cereal, sweetened beverages, the coffee’s, latte’s and smoothies. I am hereby challenging you to find out, just how many times a day do you eat sweet tasting things.
I have wanted to write a blog article extolling the virtues of molasses as a sugar substitute, since to me it is a no-brainer. I’m still going to throw a paragraph in here later on that. But thinking about this made me wonder why all the emphasis is on substituting, rather than cutting down or eliminating? Granted, we all have a sweet tooth, but much of that is cultural, rather than physical. If you are used to tasting sweet things over and over, that’s what you expect. So I lay before you a challenge- check yourself out. How many times a day do you eat something sweet? From your cereal, doughnut and coffee in the morning, to the handful of trail mix or granola bar for a snack, the milkshake or pop with your lunch, the fruit flavored yogurt, canned fruit, or cookie. Even your alcoholic beverages, most of them are sweet too. How many hits a day are you getting of sweets? The maximum recommended amount now appears to be 25-50 grams of added sugar, depending on your calorie intake. That’s 5-10 teaspoons. That isn’t a lot, especially when you figure in all the added sugar you don’t really taste, such as in condiments.
The REAL Challenge.
You can all guess where this is headed. After you identify how many sweets you eat, where can you cut down or eliminate? Can you switch to black coffee or tea? Just have a banana with plain yogurt? Buy unsweetened cereal and cut the amount of sugar you put on it until you get to either a tiny amount or nothing. I’m not in favor of substituting, as that isn’t changing your tastes at all.
Now, before you accuse me of being a killjoy, let me just say, you can have sweets. All I’m saying is that if you lower the overall sweetness of your diet, the sweets you do eat will have more of an impact on your tastebuds, and treats will really be treats. Plus, it will eliminate lots of calories from your diet, with adding artificial ingredients. Not to mention most savory foods have lots of good things going for them. This does not mean chips! When you eat a granola bar as a snack, you are mostly getting sugar. Eat a half a sandwich instead, on whole wheat bread. I’m a big proponent of eating more real food instead of snack food. Most snack foods have nothing going for them nutritionally. Save your sugar calories for real desserts!
Back to the Molasses.
If you are going to substitute something healthier than sugar, my money is on molasses. It has tons of flavor, and I think it is sweeter, so you use less. Plus, it is a real food, it is the cane syrup before it is refined down to white sugar, before all the good stuff is removed. It has calcium, iron and potassium in it, and a 20g serving has only 9g of sugar. If you bake with it, it is adding moisture as well. I made a really good zucchini bread using only 1/4 c. molasses and 1/4 white sugar with two apples as the sweetener. I use molasses in my oatmeal in the morning. Even with my kale in it, it is sweet enough with a scant teaspoon. Here is a great link to Whole Foods’ take on molasses. Of course, you can always find someone who claims molasses to cure most everything. Hey, and how can you talk about a food and not include some recipes?
Are you up for it?
So, pick up the gauntlet, take the challenge and let me know how you did. Was it painful to add up all the sweets? How many do you think you can eliminate? I still have a way to go. I love my chocolate, and depending on the time of the month, sometimes I’m better than others. My first cup of coffee of the day is still sweetened, but I drink it black the rest of the day. This isn’t an absolute thing, it’s a question of refinement, and how far do you want to go. Where do you want to spend your calories, and what do you want to get out of them? Just like you don’t want to waste money, don’t waste your calories.