One of the most significant changes people make as they progress throughout the Clean Program is to drop the refined and overly-processed sugars from their diet. This is one of the most powerful ways we know of to transform your health for the better. Giving up sweets totally in our diets is daunting for many of us, and it is also unnecessary. With a few strategic substitutions, you can still enjoy your sweet treats in moderation.
Too much refined and overly processed sugar is linked to obesity, hypoglycemia, heart disease, and diabetes, and we often have emotional attachments to sugary foods which sabotage our health goals, particularly during times of stress. The following is a list of Clean approved sugars for your 21-Day Cleanse and beyond.
- Stevia: Sold in powdered or extract form, Stevia is a plant based sugar substitute derived from the Stevia rebaudiana leaf. Stevia is about 150 times sweeter in taste than sugar, which means you need far less of it for sweetening. Stevia is also gentle on your blood sugar making this a low-glycemic choice as well. Try our refreshing stevia-sweetened Kiwi Lime Slushy as a healthier alternative to the typical refined sugar-laden version.
- Coconut Sugar/Nectar: Derived from the sap of coconut tree blossoms, coconut nectar is a low-glycemic sweetener high in minerals, amino acids, vitamin C, and broad spectrum B vitamins. Coconut sugar is the sap evaporated at high temperatures until it takes on a granular form, which makes it a great choice for easy, healthier baking. If you have any doubts about the possibilities of upgrading your baking with cleaner ingredients, try these amazing Gluten-Free Brownies.
- Xylitol: Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables. It is low-glycemic, and is often used as a sugar substitute for those with diabetes. As with any other sugar we encourage moderation, but feel free to sweeten your herbal tea with a bit of xylitol during your cleanse, and post-cleanse, a treat such as our Flourless Chocolate Cake is an excellent alternative to traditional white sugar varieties.
- Whole Fruit: Whole fruit is the perfect package of natural sugars, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The fiber in whole fruit helps to slow the absorption of the sugars, which prevents insulin spikes and unsteady blood sugar levels. For the initial cleanse we avoid oranges, grapefruits, bananas, strawberries, and grapes, as these are common allergens, but for a taste of something sweet nothing is better for you than whole, organic fruits. This delicious Peach Smoothie is a sweet treat balanced with some added protein and fat, making in a fantastic and energizing breakfast during your cleanse, and long-term smoothie rotation.
- Dried Fruit: Dried fruit is a great addition to your cleansing and post-cleanse diet. Be sure to look for organic, and sugar, oil, and sulphite free varieties to keep your choices clean and healthy. The balance of sugars, carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats in these Raw Nut Bars makes them an excellent healthy snack. Feel free to experiment with this recipe, and add some additional dried berries, approved dark chocolate chunks, nuts, or your favorite spices.
As with all sugars we recommend moderation, but you’ll find that the Clean Diet approved sugars and substitutions will offer you comfort and satiation without the detrimental effects of refined and overly processed varieties. Post-cleanse you can enjoy small amounts of organic raw honey or grade B maple syrup (which is less processed) as well. You will also find that as you cleanse, decrease the sugars in your diet, and increase your intake of greens and other vegetables, your palate will naturally shift towards healthier options, and less sugary foods overall in the long-term.
Written by Carolyn De Lorenzo
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