November 7, 2008

GUEST POST by Stefani: Sugar, Sugar

Thanks to Stefani, the writer of
teensygreen, for contributing this post to Petite Planet!

Are you sweet on sugar? Dealing with sugar is something I feel like I struggle with on a daily basis, for my husband, our daughters and myself. Aside from trying to cut out processed foods, I've been a die-hard Splenda user for years. With negative press about possible carcinogenic qualities, however, my entire family has boycotted Splenda. At my mother-in-law's house, only organic sugar is used, which is admirable in one sense. On the other hand, I worry about my daughter's sugar intake in everything.

I've been hyper-aware of sugar marketing lately, especially due to this heated post about high fructose corn syrup over at 5 Minutes for Going Green. The "high fructose corn syrup are safe and healthy because they come from corn" ads, as well as horribly misdirected ads touting kid's sugar cereal as good for them are everywhere - and they're making me mad!

Generally, I use different kinds of sweeteners depending on my needs. I usually bake with organic raw sugar and use Splenda in my coffee, and I try to use lower sugar/no sugar items for cereals and snacks. Lately, however, I've been experimenting with different sweeteners, for myself right now. I hate giving my kids alternative sweeteners, but can regular sugar be any better? I guess the big question is: is there a perfect sugar? It seems, however, that big name food manufacturers are trying to cash in on zero-calorie sweeteners, and fast. Here are a couple of examples of what you may be finding on your supermarket shelves soon…

I found Truvia in my local supermarket, glaring at me in a green and white box. I immediately put it in my cart and almost made coffee in the middle of the day just to try it. Truvia is derived from stevia, a South American herb and very popular alternative form of sugar. Truvia, like stevia, is suitable for diabetics, kosher, calorie-free and can be used for cooking and baking. This particular product is made from Rebiana, noted as the "best-tasting components of the stevia plant," and erythritol, a natural sugar found in fruits and vegetables. I have to say, it's pretty good (in coffee, at least). It's definitely less artificial tasting than Splenda, with a less-than-sugar consistency, which I got over pretty quickly.

Zsweet is another new sugar substitute on the market, which I have yet to try. Zsweet also has zero calories, Non-GMO, is kosher and is zero glycemic, meaning it won't raise your blood sugar. It comes in varied forms, such as in packets and granular form for baking. The website says it's also "100% natural," which is where I start to get wary. It's strange to read about this seemingly perfect product as natural when it has been through a chemically-based production process. Zsweet is made exclusively from erythritol. Zsweet makes it a point to explain that erythritol has an added benefit that it causes less gastric distress than other sweeteners, which may appeal to many people sick of sugar alcohols in diet foods.

So, what do you think? How do you handle sugar in your home - moderation, of course, but do you only use "real" sugar, naturally derived sweeteners like the ones above, or is sugar not allowed to come around anymore? I'd love to hear your thoughts, and maybe put this sticky situation to rest!


Rob said...

I've been big on Splenda for a few years since highly-sugared goodies do a number on my stomach. But more and more, I'm beginning to see that Splenda may exacerbate a nasty sweet tooth problem, not lessen it. I'm trying really hard to ease back on all sweets, even those made with artificial and/or alternative sweeteners.

However, a relative recently gave me a box of Xylotol and I have been wondering about some of the other alternatives, like agave syrup. But given how bad sugar alcohol and corn syrup make me feel, I haven't had the courage to try many of those other options yet...

heidi said...

I have been at war with sugar since 1994. It's amazing how much sugar you find in food, once you start reading ingredient labels. It's hidden in dressings & sauces, and even some unexpected places. I try to use things sweetened with honey, or 100% maple syrup. After that, unrefined cane juice. It's NOT easy.

Briana Adams said...

I would like to start off with a disclaimer, I work for Zsweet, so I'm slightly biased.

However, I've suffered with candida since I was 10 years old, so sugar related health issues is something I'm personally affected by and familiar with.

A homeopathic Dr. recommended cutting out sugar, even from fruits, and using Stevia instead to help my candida and severe inflammation as a child.

The Stevia was ok, but I really hate black licorice and found that if I used too much that's what it ended up tasting like. It was definitely great to have the natural option though.

I really can't stand diet sodas or artificial sweeteners. Even Splenda to me has a notable aftertaste and it drives me crazy because I'm always stuck either suffering with candida or eating something that tastes totally nasty or that makes me have to run to the bathroom. TMI.

I was loving the sugar-free Jello pudding for awhile, until it hit me! Now, I can't have that.

Since sugar is overloaded in everything, like fruit juice, I do think it's important to reduce how much your kids are having whenever possible.

Anyway, about Zsweet. I honestly do love it. The granular version in the pouch and canister tastes just like sugar... really.

The reason it's natural is because erythritol is a natural sweetener that's in fruits and veggies and is processed using fermentation, the same way beer or wine is made. It's not a synthetic chemical compound engineered in a lab, and that cannot be found in nature. If you've eaten yogurt or cheese or had a glass of wine you've had erythritol.

Anyway, I do recommend it personally because I know the pain sugar can cause and how hard it is to find a good alternative.