Healthier Sweeteners

A 20-ounce bottle of soda usually has 16 teaspoons of added sugar.

A 20-ounce lemon-flavored iced tea can have 14.5+ tablespoons of added sugar. 

Even a 20-ounce bottle of a sports drink can have 7.5+ teaspoons of added sugar.

Our bodies were not designed to handle large amounts of 'added' sugar, so it's important you understand the difference between ‘added’ sugar and ‘natural sugar.’

Just yesterday, my 9 year old was eating some cookies (yes my kids eat cookies too) and of course I'm teaching them too about 'added' sugar. He tell me he just ate 360 calories of cookies and I tell him that's good to know, but more importantly how much sugar did you eat? He then tell me 5 tsp. I then ask him if it was added sugar or natural sugar? He then tells me added sugar and he better stop at 4 cookies so he doesn't go over his limit of 6 tsp. per day of added sugar.

When you decrease your daily added sugar, you feel better period. So how much added sugar are you eating per day? You need to know.  

Sugar's Harmful Effects...

We all know how harmful refined sugar is for your body. There’s plenty of science and research showing that it can be attributed to increased weight gain and increased body inflammation, which increases the likelihood of disease. One of the most important, yet lesser known, impacts to your health is its negative effect on gut health integrity. When you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake, it’s difficult because sugar is a stimulant. This means it provides you a quick jolt of energy and dopamine that makes you feel amazing!

This creates a very unhealthy roller coaster effect in your body by a large spike in your blood glucose followed by a similarly quick drop in your blood glucose. As your blood sugar drops, your body screams for more sugar…and the cycle continues.  This roller coaster also has negative effects on your brain chemistry. Some studies show that sugar is four to seven times more addictive than cocaine. Basically, the more you consume, the more you will crave it. Ask anyone who has a healthy relationship with sugar how much they crave it. They don’t because their taste buds and brain chemistry are working for them not against them.  

Could you live without sugar? Absolutely, yes! I have three kids who have never had birthday cake. Okay that’s a lie, because I’m not that kind of dietitian. However, living without sugar could be done, and it would only improve your health. Unless you have a serious health condition to deal with, creating a healthier relationship is all that is needed.   

Beyond refined sugar...

Liquid sugar, artificial sugar, and sugar alcohols are all types of sugar that you should be aware of in reducing your ‘added’ sugar daily intake. Liquid sugar is extremely hard on the blood sugar curve I explained above. It’s a fast stimulant that will always leave you craving more sugar.

Artificial sugar such as Splenda, Equal, Sweet n low, etc. gives your taste buds the hyper sweet craving because they are many times sweeter than sugar. In my experience people doing a lot of artificial sweeteners don't like the taste of fruits and vegetables; fruit is just not sweet enough and vegetables are bitter to them. This is all driven from their hyper-sweet taste buds caused by the artificial sweetener. When done in large quantities, these sweeteners do more harm than good. Yes, they don’t have calories, but they still have been linked to obesity and other harmful diseases.

Sugar alcohols are not alcohol and are not sweeter than sugar, but they do create gas, bloating, and intestinal discomfort when eaten in large quantities. Sugar alcohols are usually not listed in the nutrition facts label, but will be listed in the ingredients list. Look for names that end in -ol, such as sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol.  If you suffer from IBS, IBD, diverticulitis, etc. staying away from sugar alcohols will help improve your symptoms. 

Healthier Alternatives...

To be successful with removing sugar from your diet, it’s important to replace it with healthier alternatives. These alternatives help reduce your cravings for sugar, help to “reset” your taste buds to enjoy more naturally sweet foods and treats. Most importantly, it gets your brain chemistry working for you instead of against you.

Healthier sweetener choices include the list below. They are natural, minimally processed, and have the natural benefit of containing nutrients that are vital for health. There are no such nutrients in refined sugar.  

Healthier concentrated sweeteners include honey which provides you with much more than just a sweet taste. Raw, local honey is a powerful health tool and bring along with it enzymes, trace minerals, flavonoids, and other polyphenols which have been shown to increase antioxidants in your body to decrease inflammation. Why raw? Because the heating process destroys the health benefits of honey.

Stevia is another good source as a sweetener. Look for pure stevia products that list only stevia on the ingredients list and does not include other sweeteners such as dextrose. Stevia is a good choice for diabetics (or anyone trying to lose a few pounds) because it doesn’t raise blood glucose levels. Honey and stevia are the two sweeteners that are most researched.  

Maple syrup and molasses are a few more great sweeteners of choice. Of these, molasses is the shining star. It can provide your body with usable nutrients such as potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin B6.

One last tip. In addition to ditching refined sugar, really jump start your health and how you feel by ditching high fructose corn syrup at the same time. Look for products that do not list these harmful sweeteners in their ingredients list. Removing all the harmful sweeteners at one time is…as they say, ‘killing two birds with one stone.’


I invite you to take a closer look at your added sugar intake. Where is it coming from? How much are you eating per day? It's easy to make tweaks to what you are eating with personalized steps for greater health benefit. Call my office at 970-444-2122 or email me at [email protected], to book a 30 minutes one-on-one consultation call. In this call we will discuss what you have tried, where you want to go with your health and nutrition, and steps you need to take to get there. We will simplify your starting steps so you can live happier, healthier, and have more fun! 

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