Healthy alternatives to sugar

It’s no secret that refined sugar is bad for us. Sugar causes spikes in insulin levels leading to weight gain and hormone imbalance, can exasperate numerous health issues and too much of it leaves us on an energy high one moment and lethargic the next. All in all it’s just not good for our body or wellbeing. What a shame because those sweet drinks and sugary foods are just so darn tempting!

Well, no! The good news is that with a bit of pre-planning, a few simple ingredient tweaks and some extra attention to what you’re buying when it comes to food, there are some very easy ways to make healthy yet just as [**delicious alternatives to your favourite sugary treats**][1].

First things first, when you’re shopping, don’t immediately think that foods promoted as low fat or low calorie equate to low sugar ones. Often the ‘bulk’ of these types of foods are replaced with sugar. Your body will definitely thank you for consuming the option with more beneficial nutrients.

So let’s look at some ways in which you can replace sugar with healthy alternatives. If you are a partial to chocolate, try switching to dark chocolate and the higher the percentage of cocoa the better! For example, an 85% cocoa content dark chocolate bar is a significantly healthier alternative to standard milk chocolate. Cocoa contains antioxidants, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium – all of which have numerous health benefits. It is also rich and quite bitter to the taste so you’ll likely find that a little goes a long way to satisfy the craving. Dark chocolate is perfect to use in baking too.

**[Smoothies can be a great way to get a sweet fix][2]**. A great one to try that is deliciously reminiscent of lemon cheesecake (but minus the sugar and calories!) includes freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest, banana, dates and vanilla extract. You can also add dates and raw cashews for an added boost of energy, vitamin E and healthy fats.

Shop bought cereal or breakfast bars are constantly being promoted as low fat but most are full of sweeteners, refined sugar and syrups. You’ll eat one and likely feel hungry again within the hour! A tasty, nutritious and easy to make alternative is by using **[gluten free oats][3]**, almond butter, bananas and seeds and berries of your choice. Mash and heat the bananas and almond butter and add the rest of your ingredients before pouring in a baking tray to set. This granola bar alternative contains low glycemic index oats to release energy steadily and keep you fuller for longer whilst the almond butter is packed with protein. Seeds and berries are full of antioxidants and the bananas give you a good dose of fibre.

It’s all about getting creative in the kitchen and replacing anything with refined sugar with raw, [**plant-based**][4] and whole-food alternatives that give the body the nutrients it needs to thrive. Once you make the commitment to replace the sugar in your diet, you’ll quickly notice an increase in your energy levels, mood, wellbeing and overall health.

[1]: http://www.ilumiworld.com/magazine/2013/11/sugar-sweet-treat-or-something-to-avoid-dr-janet-sorts-out-the-controversy
[2]: http://thescienceofeating.com/healthy-drinks/benefits-of-smoothies/
[3]: http://www.ilumiworld.com/magazine/2013/12/when-going-gluten-free-might-not-be-enough
[4]: http://www.ilumiworld.com/magazine/2013/10/happy-world-vegetarian-day-

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