Humans are born with a strong love of sweet tastes. This is one of the reasons so many processed foods from chips to salad dressings, bread and pizza have sugar added to them. It reinforces our cravings, making us want even more! Sugar is highly addictive, activating our brain pathways similar to other addictive substances like drugs and many of us don’t realize how much we’re eating. We crave more and more because sugar triggers the reward system in our brain. Refined sugar is even more highly addictive and causes many health issues and weight gain.
In my Healthy Eating workshops I share 5 healthy alternatives to table sugar and corn syrup you can use to satisfy your sweet tooth. Use these all-natural sugars in moderation and you will reap the health benefits.
1. Raw Honey.
Raw honey has a flavor that satisfies your craving for sweets. Honey is made when bees chew on nectar and break it down into simple sugars. They deposit it into honeycombs and water evaporates out of it. It's loaded with natural enzymes, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Honey is also a natural antiseptic and can be applied to cuts and scrapes. It’s important to note that not all honey is equal and you should avoid labeling tricks. Most honey being sold in the market today is overly processed, heated and filtered, taking all the best health benefits away. Processed honey is clear while raw honey is thicker, often cloudy and has a honey comb or crust on top. Avoid cheap honey especially the ones that come in the little plastic bear jars. Make sure the label says raw honey. A little more expensive, but well worth the cost.
2. 100% real Maple Syrup.
Maple syrup is a healthy, natural product that comes straight from trees. It's made from the boiled sap of maple trees and has lots of healthy nutrients such as calcium, zinc, magnesium and potassium. Maple syrup has a lower glycemic index (this tells your body how fast or slow to raise your blood sugar after eating it) than sugar. It also contains up to 54 different antioxidants.
3. Dates. Some people enjoy using date sugar, which is made from powdered dried/dehydrated dates. Date sugar has all of the dates’ nutritional value, including fiber, calcium, magnesium and potassium. It’s not always easy to find date sugar so to make it even easier, just add chopped or mashed Medjool dates to any food you want to sweeten.
4. Coconut Sugar.
Coconut sugar is made by boiling and dehydrating sap from a coconut palm tree. It tastes a lot like brown sugar, but it has fiber, iron, zinc and antioxidants.
Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener that is made from a South American plant. It is much sweeter than regular sugar so you need to use it sparingly. The best type is Green Leaf Stevia because it is hardly processed and very pure with no added chemicals. It’s important to mention that Stevia is not metabolized by the body like sugar and has no impact on blood sugar. For this reason, it is a great alternative for diabetics.
So now you know what alternatives there are to satisfy your sweet tooth and won’t derail your health or your weight loss efforts! Please help me spread the word about healthy sweeteners by sharing this article with your family, friends and coworkers. Want to learn more about healthy eating or my stress reduction and mindfulness programs to help you and your family create a healthier, less stressed-out life in 2020, visit PeaceandPear.com
Educate and Motivate.
Given the wealth of information available online now, employees often find themselves confused on what is really the right approach to their health. One size does not fit all and educating your team members to make better decisions, explore healthy options and listen to their bodies is key. That’s why education is at the root of any successful program. I’ve found a variety of different ways to educate that are effective, from lunch and learns to webinars to my unique Coach-on-Call program and wellness challenges; all providing small tidbits of daily education. The key with these programs is that the presenter is a lively, motivating speaker so attendees feel inspired to take action.
Enable and Empower Everyone.
Wellness doesn’t have to be complicated and I will ensure a seamless approach to your company’s wellness goals. Once we’ve begun to educate your teams on the mind/body connection, it’s important to make it easy for them to follow through on what they learned. For example, I’ve worked closely with cafeteria managers and HR staff to create a ‘Peace and Pear approved’ Green Bowl Program. Employees know that whatever meal was in the Green Bowl that day was a healthy and delicious lunch option. Even if your office doesn’t have a full cafeteria, we can incorporate healthy snack options in the vending machines. Something as simple as giving employees large water bottles and provide filtered water and lemons in the office to make morning lemon water, which energizes, detoxes and hydrates employees is a great start. This simple act alone can help employees stay hydrated, avoid the sugary waters and sodas in the vending machines and improve energy levels by up to 50 percent. Another option is to offer fruit for morning and afternoon snacks. Apples, pears and berries are low-glycemic and packed with antioxidants and fiber to fill everyone up.
Incentivize Your Team.
A little friendly competition goes a long way. Team-based wellness challenges with prizes help employees take what they’ve learned and motivate them to create healthy habits. Online wellness challenges can include multiple office locations or departments and build camaraderie company wide. Giving mindful prizes for participation is also effective to increase participation, especially for those individuals who are hesitant to participate.
Be Consistent in all Phases.
Finally, simply doing a one-off wellness event to check the boxes isn’t enough. Just like any new habit or change to routine, consistency is key. Planning out a full year of wellness in advance of the year keeps the program top of mind in the office. It also allows you the opportunity to provide different offerings, as not everything will appeal to everyone. Examples include offering a combination of lunch and learns, monthly newsletters, fitness classes, wellness challenges and even superfood smoothie and juicing classes. Running a good wellness program, with high engagement and sustained results can quickly become a full-time job. Outsourcing to a wellness focused company will not only save you time but also dollars.
To learn more about Christine's work and Peace and Pear’s corporate wellness programs, check out https://www.peaceandpear.com/corporate-coaching.html