I can’t remember exactly when it started, probably a few years ago, but now I don’t give it a second thought. It’s completely automatic.
Whenever I see something sweet, the first question that I always ask is “what is the sweetener being used?”
Some people may find this incredibly strange. To them, the only thing that matters is what a cookie, brownie, piece of chocolate, or cup of ice cream looks like.
For me, however, it is a completely different story. Having eaten close to 100% organic for the past 13 years, I am incredibly careful about what I put into my body and have become acutely aware of how food impacts both my physical and emotional well-being.
And when it comes to sugar, this is especially the case. I learned the hard way a long time ago that refined white sugar would send me into a massive depression.
So, do I avoid eating sugar altogether?
But I am very cautious about what kind of sweetener I will consume, as there are many, many options on the market. I always look for organic, which means anything artificial is never a consideration, and prefer sweeteners that are minimally processed.
My number one choice is not to have to add any type of natural sweetener but to get it directly from the food that I am eating, such as organic dates, bananas, or carrots.
After that, it is I will try to use either organic coconut palm sugar or local, raw honey. Palm sugar is dehydrated nectar from a coconut palm tree and is low on the Glycemic Index. Aside from being the most popular sugar alternative in the organic industry right now, it is also very sustainable.
Since there are no USDA certified organic standards (http://livingmaxwell.com/organic-honey-certified) when it comes to honey, I buy raw honey from small and local apiaries, usually at farmers markets. Before purchasing this honey, I always make sure that toxic chemicals are not being used in the hives.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding agave, even organic agave. Many people believe that it is just as bad as High Fructose Corn Syrup. Even though organic stevia is widely accepted, there is a view that it can be very stressful on the adrenals because it “tricks” the body into believing that sugar is coming into the system, when in fact it is not. So, I avoid agave and stevia as much as possible.
The list of other sweeteners goes on and on but the important thing to remember is not at all sugar alternatives are created equal.
Max Goldberg is the founder of Living Maxwell (http://livingmaxwell.com), one of the most widely read organic food blogs in the country, and Pressed Organic Juice Directory (http://pressedjuicedirectory.com), the world’s first pressed organic juice directory.