Originally posted on The Candidly
“But I don’t even eat that much sugar!” Says every person, ever.
Even if you’re not ending each night with a slice of chocolate cake, you might still be unintentionally eating sugar throughout your day— in your almond milk latte, low-fat yogurt with granola, salad dressing, tea, grab & go energy bar, that small handful of chocolates, and scavenging the last bites of your kids’ nuggets. Almost every packaged food has an atrocious amount of sugar. And sugar is the devil. Not like other trendy wellness foods or ingredients. Sugar is actually poison.
And the average American eat 17 grams of sugar a day.
So like, try to eat less of it because it’s actually making you sick. But if you R E A L L Y want information that’s going to actually change your behavior, here it is:
Sugar is making you look old.
Don’t believe me? Well, here’s what the experts have to say:
“Sugar breaks down collagen. Collagen is what our skin is filled with when we are younger that keeps it plump, and youthful.” — Dr. Lancer
“The breakdown of collagen and elastin contributes directly to wrinkles, sagging, and uneven skin tone.” — Dr. Alan Dattner
“Advanced glycation end products (AGEs), a class of compounds resulting from combinations of sugars and proteins, can accelerate the effects of aging. These form whenever blood sugar is high, mostly from overconsumption of quick-digesting carbohydrates, including sweeteners and refined starches (flour).” — Dr. Weil
“Sugar is a dehydrating agent and affects water binding, so your skin looks less perky and bouncy, and doesn’t appear as oxygenated. The skin becomes sallow, lackluster and you get those unwanted dark circles.” — Dr. Lancer
“Among non-diabetic subjects, higher glucose levels are associated with a higher perceived age.”
Cutting out sugar from our diet is not the only way to achieve the skin of our dreams. Stress, sleep, diet, environment, water intake, and a great skincare routine all play a part, too. But, at this point, in most of our middle-aged lives, we’ll do just about anything that might keep our skin looking youthful, glowy, and plump.
Buuuuuuuut, sugar lights up the same reward areas in our brain as nicotine, cocaine, and sex. Sign me up! We only have to see an image of something sweet to trigger salivation, and with 600,000 packaged processed foods in America, of which 80% have added sugar, it’s a bit hard to avoid.
So here are some tips to help you replace sugar while still satisfying your DNA’s programmed sugar cravings.
Cinnamon: Or star anise, fennel, and green cardamom. They all have an inherent sweetness, making them great replacements for sugar. “Aromas such as vanilla, for example, can cause something perceived as sweet to taste sweeter.” It’s not bullshit, It’s science.
Speaking of which…
2. Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste or powder. This is not the white stuff in the grocery store— this is the ground up pure vanilla beans you can buy on Amazon. It’s not cheap, but a little goes a long way. Add it to coffee, plain yogurt, oatmeal, fruit. You’ve been warned through, you’ll never eat another “vanilla flavored” food item again without disdain.
3. Coconut: Adding coconut milk or cream (the thick stuff in the can, not the box) to your morning coffee or tea sweetens it without sugar. Or try coconut butter: melt it in the microwave for a minute and it’s like frosting. Just eat it with a spoon when the cravings it. Or add big coconut flakes to some nut and/or seed mix or homemade no-sugar granola to make it instantly sweeter.
4. Pecan or Macadamia Nuts: These nuts are so sweet on their own or as a nut butter. Pecans have a maple-y flavor, and macadamia nut butter is similar to coconut butter with its warm, vanilla-y sweetness.
5. Herbal Teas: Try this afternoon or nighttime routine and it will change your life. At the time of day when you’re rummaging through the cabinets for something delicious to perk you up, try tea with berries, ginger, fennel, licorice root or chamomile. It will satisfy your cravings without needing a coffee or a sugary snack.
6. Salt: Yes, it sounds counter-intuitive, but add some good salt (we like Maldon) to just about anything naturally sweet (fruit, carrots, sweet potatoes, pecans, that new sugar-less cinnamon vanilla oatmeal you’re gonna try), and the sweet flavors will be enhanced.
7. Dates: This one is last because they’re high in natural sugar. But dates have fiber, which slows the sugar absorption and doesn’t create a spike. Wrap a pitted date around a pecan, add a sprinkle of Maldon salt. You will be forever in my debt.
Give these a try for just a week. See how your taste buds open up, and how you don’t unconsciously grab for those chocolates at the checkout line.
I promise you, once you reduce your sugar intake, you will not only help your skin, but you’ll also enjoy the natural flavors of your food MUCH more. But also the not-old thing.