These are my favorite practical and easy tips to eat less sugar!
I was inspired to write this post after recently thinking of all the 'tricks' I've used in lowering my own sugar intake. This isn't one of those 'fluffy' posts that are really generalized, but rather, these are things that I myself implement on a daily basis in my own life.
I believe that all of these tips will help anyone to gradually 'retrain' their sweet tooth, as they've worked for everyone in our family, including my children.
After about four months of practicing these methods, we can all eat 'treats' with little to no sweetener, and be completely satisfied, and our bodies and minds are MUCH better off for it!
If there was one thing that everyone in the world could do for themselves, no matter what diet type, I think it is EAT LESS SUGAR!
1. Your Best Tolerated Sweetener
The first thing I did in my quest to eat less sugar was to determine which natural sweetener agreed with me the best.
This will be different for everyone, as we are all different in what we tolerate.
I basically went off of how I felt after consuming each type, including maple syrup, dates, coconut sugar, honey, and sucanat or unprocessed sugar.
Was I tired within an hour or so? Itching? Moody? Did my energy wane? Any other aches or pains?
These were all questions I asked myself, and because I know my own body fairly well, I was able to determine that the sweetener that agrees with me the best is raw honey.
This is now my go-to sweetener for pretty much all treats, with coconut sugar and maple syrup second and third, respectively.
2. To Stevia or Not
Stevia seems to be a bit controversial, in that it has been linked to infertility. You can read a relevant study here.
These studies, however, don't specify which brands they're testing or how processed the stevia is, and I personally am very suspect of the additives commonly in stevia products.
In contrast, stevia has been found to be beneficial in those with Lyme disease and infection-related biofilms. The question that has been raised about these studies is whether an in vitro experiment can apply outside of that environment.
While I do think that an abundance of anything, particularly a zero calorie sweetener, can be problematic, each person has to weigh the pros and cons for him or herself.
For me, stevia is helpful in my particular quest to eat less sugar.
I generally use it in combination with another natural sweetener (usually raw honey), and I don't overdo it.
A sprinkle here or there doesn't bother me personally. I've used it for years and never noticed a difference with my periods or ability to conceive.
A word of caution, however, from me to you: Buy a stevia with NO additives!
This means, NO 'natural flavors', maltodextrin, weird 'fibers', or anything else. Buy 100% powdered stevia extract or better yet, a whole plant stevia extract.
I have NEVER tolerated a stevia that contained any additives. I ALWAYS notice a negative reaction, usually a headache. Trust me, there is a reason that certain 'beefed up' brands taste better than others!
The brands I trust most (and who are all free of additives) include the NOW brand, the 365 brand from Whole Foods, and this Nutramedix stevia.
3. Flavor Enhancers
An important part of making treats sugar-free is how you flavor them.
What flavors do you enjoy? For me, I love cinnamon, pie spice, and vanilla, so I pretty much double or triple those additions whenever I am making a low sugar or sugar-free treat.
It is important to flavor your treats accordingly or they will lack in satisfaction.
This bean-based cookie is one of my go-to 'sweet tooth-satiaters', and, as you can see, it does not lack in the vanilla department!
4. Beans, beans the magical fruit
Are you onboard with beans in desserts yet? You should be!
They not only take the place of grain-based flours, they also add a rich, creamy texture! In addition, they have a considerable amount of protein, which is important for blood sugar stabilization.
I find them to be particularly suitable for sugar-free desserts, as in the above cookie slice recipe, as well as these Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies.
Their starch content adds a hint of natural sweetness to treats that I really enjoy, and the taste pairs very well with stevia and some of the aforementioned flavor enhancers.
Coconut is another awesome option when making lower sugar treats, having multiple health and taste properties.
It is naturally sweet on its own, so adding it to recipes in the form of milk (I use my Homemade Coconut Milk for pretty much everything!), butter, oil, flour, or just as a grated accoutrement will add a subtle level of sweetness that is incomparable to anything else.
Coconut is also great if you're lowering your sugar intake for candida purposes, as it contains caprylic acid, an element that has potent antifungal capabilities.
I love the flavor coconut butter adds to my Carob Oat Truffles!
Coconut butter mixed with coconut milk and a little vanilla also makes an great icing/frosting for muffins or cake-y textured foods, such as these Pumpkin Pie Bars.
6. Unsweetened Chocolate
This is a great little trick.
When I make a recipe calling for chocolate chips, I typically use a combination of chopped dark chocolate (70% or higher) and chopped unsweetened chocolate, which is totally sugar-free.
That way, I get the mouthfeel of chocolate, along with some sweetness from the 70% bar. This has been one of my favorite ways to 'have my chocolate and eat it too', if you will. My Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars make great use of this tip!
Carob can be polarizing, I know. People seem to either love it or hate it. I'm sure you can guess, I personally love it.
Though it doesn't taste like chocolate, its color and texture make it a great 'fake-out' for the typically bitter bean, and it's sweeter in nature, not requiring copious amounts of added sugar to make it palatable.
Try it out in the form of this delicious, Flourless Cake or these Sugar-Free Candies and see for yourself!
An easy way to eat less sugar is by using fruit!
Applesauce, in particular, adds dimension and sweetness to lower sugar treats.
My best tip for this is to replace the liquid sweetener in recipes for an equal amount of applesauce.
For example, if a recipe calls for 1/4 cup of honey, I would use one tablespoon of honey and three tablespoons of applesauce to create a dessert much lower in sugar.
Sometimes, you can even go without any added sweetener, usually in the case of muffins or bread, if you have an ample amount of applesauce. These Apple Pie-Spiced Muffins are a great example!
If you're in need of a good sugar-free applesauce recipe, try my Instant Pot Applesauce! I make this at least once a week to have on hand for our treats and baked goods.
9. Don't skimp on fat!
While it is possible to make a delicious, low sugar treat that is also low in fat, oils and butter can be a great way to make a richer treat without adding carbs or sugar grams.
Fats and oils can also make for a more delicious mouthfeel, and they can be both more filling and satisfying than something made with little to no added fat.
If you're weary of using oils or butter, as some are, this concept can also be achieved with nut or seed butters and/or flours, as in these Low Sugar Almond Butter Blondies.
This isn't so much a tip for creating sugar-free treats as it is a recovery method for post-consumption. I thought it was applicable here though, so I'm including it!
Basically, the idea is to combat the negative effects of sugar immediately after eating it.
My husband and I have been implementing this trick for years, and we both find it extremely helpful.
What we do is simply chew and swallow a whole clove of raw garlic after eating any type of sweet treat.
I have noticed it particularly helps combat symptoms of fatigue, and raw garlic is known, in general, to help with candida, among other ailments, so it's just a good thing to take all-around.
Hopefully, this is a bit helpful for some of you and gives you an idea or two of how to retrain your own sweet tooth!
If you have any related tips to share about low sugar eating or candida, please leave a comment below! ♥
Hey Lauren thanks for this super useful post! Quick q - I’ve seen you mention stevia drops in a couple of your recipes but I know you avoid stevia products with additives. Would you be able to share a link to stevia drops that you recommend? Thanks!
I have been trying to cut down even more on my sugar intake this year, not that I have much anyway but I do like chocolate. Since I haven't been baking, the only sweet things in the house is all the chocolate left over from Christmas which I'm sharing so it goes quicker. I have never tried stevia and I don't really want to, if I'm going to eat something sweet, I'll totally indulge! Great tips, I've learned a few things today xo
Great post! I avoid Stevia as it gives me a headache. My favorite unprocessed sweetener to use is maple syrup, I little bit goes a long way.
Another substitute I use in recipes is mashed banana, great replacement in muffins and quickbreads.
These are such great tips! I used to be super addictive to sugar and had to figure out ways to cut back. I find eating lots of fresh fruit helps curb my sweet tooth. I am one of those weirdos that doesn't like stevia. The taste is not good for me. I quite like carob though! I didn't like it at first, but it grew on me =)
Cinnamon is such a great way to help sweeten things naturally. And maple syrup is my favourite sweetener.
Thanks for sharing this at Healthy Vegan Fridays, Lauren. It's a great post - I'm pinning it =)
These are great tips!! Thanks for sharing! 🙂 All of your eats look so yummy! I love coconut! YUM! 🙂 So good!
Xoxo- Cailee @ http://hellohealthyeating.com 🙂
I LOVE the tip about doing half chopped dark chocolate and half unsweetened as chocolate chips! I never thought of that and it's brilliant!
Thanks Sheelagh! 🙂
I make water kefir drinks that way I get to enjoy fizzy drinks, satisfy my fruit cravings and all with reduced sugar ! Not to metion it being full of electralights, freindly bacteria............
Excellent & practical information based on experience for 'real world' living. Thank you for sharing.
Sammi @ Grounded & Surrounded
FABULOUS article, Lauren! Loved it! Can't wait to share it 🙂 The garlic trick is so cool!
Thanks so much Sammi! 🙂
Wow - I've never heard the garlic tip. Will have to try it.
Honestly - I eat a ton of fruit, and I was originally thinking it might make me a sugar monster, but it has actually greatly stabilized my blood sugar and I rarely want or crave baked goods of any kind anymore. Which is good - but also slightly sad because I still enjoy making them 🙂
PS _ i rarely comment, but really love reading your blog. It's a nice mix of recipes, day in the life, new ideas, and jsut good stuff.
Thank you so much! I think fruit is great, I definitely wouldn't lump it in with this post in thinking it needs to be reduced, in fact, I think it makes a great replacement for sweeteners. 🙂
Your tips are great for reducing sweeteners. It takes time to retrain a sweet tooth, but it can be done. I used to have an incredible sweet tooth. Addictive, really. Pregnancy gave me the motivation to make some changes and it's been a long journey (with more to go), but it's been a positive one.
I am mindful to not call sugared items 'treats.' They are not treats for our bodies, minds or health and changing my vocabulary influences my mindset. Instead, I call sugared items 'sweets' or 'candy.' Treats are fresh fruit or pastured meat or garden produce...
One tip that has worked for me is to take a break from the traditional sweet before trying a nontraditional version. Don't make sugar filled chocolate chip cookies for a while before trying your chickpea ones. That way your brain doesn't compare them as much.