Kicking sugar is super important to over all health. Sugar is at the heart of the obesity epidemic as well as being the primary addictive ingredient in a lot of processed snack foods. If you go cold-turkey, note that you may feel nauseous and headachey for several days. This is known as the Keto Flu. It WILL go away if you stick to it!
The key to understanding sweeteners is the glycemic index. Because THM’s goal is to regulate blood sugar by diet, without spikes and crashes, the glycemic index of approved (or not approved) sweeteners is vital. Wikipedia defines glycemic index this way: “The glycemic index is a number from 0 to 100 assigned to a food, with pure glucose arbitrarily given the value of 100, which represents the relative rise in the blood glucose level two hours after consuming that food.”
Xylitol: I tend to buy this sweetener in larger bags and use it where I can, especially in my hot chocolate (mocha) mix. Some humans get uncomfortable tummies from xylitol. I don’t… but I’m aware of the issue, so xylitol is not my go-to sweetener when baking for nonTHM people. Here’s a link to xylitol in five-pound bags. This was the first sweetener I found I could enjoy without an aftertaste. I got accustomed to other sweeteners, too, but it took time. Xylitol is derived from birch trees or from non-GMO corn, and is similar in sweetness to sugar.
NOTE: Xylitol can be lethal to dogs, so, if you have pets, be very careful. We do have a dog, but he isn’t in the habit of eating people food, so I’m just careful not to leave any treats made with xylitol sitting around unsupervised.
Stevia: Pure stevia powder is extremely sweet. THM recipes call for it by the “doonk” which is a 1/32 teaspoon measure! This is the most economical sweetener, even though it seems really pricey at first, because a little really does go a long way.
Erythritol: another sweetener derived from corn, but it’s very low on the glycemic index so it doesn’t spike blood glucose. It’s used a lot in blends, and is about 70-80% as sweet as sugar.
Monk fruit extract: Derived from monk fruit and very sweet (more than 100 times sweeter than sugar). It’s usually sold as a blend, often mixed with erythritol. In Canada, I buy Krisda brand or a no-name brand from Bulk Barn. Lakanto is the brand I hear most often from the USA. This is my favorite blend for baking for non THMers. There is no aftertaste at all, and it has a really nice sweet flavor. I use it 1:1 with sugar in a recipe.
Stevia drops: I buy Sweet Leaf Sweet Drops in two of the many flavors they make. The plain stevia drops are handy when I want to add a little sweetener to plain Greek yogurt or a cup of tea. The English Toffee drops go in my daily mocha. Such a nice little hit of flavor and sweetness! Fair warning: I didn’t like the taste of these at first. I had to be off sugar for a while to handle the stevia flavor.
Pyure: an erythritol sweetener that is readily available in USA Walmarts that can be used on plan. You can also buy Pyure on Amazon. The Pyure Bakeable Stevia Blend also contains maltodextrin and is not on plan.
Truvia: Truvia is another erythritol/stevia blend that’s readily available in store. Check ingredients, as they also have baking blends that are mixed with sugar.
Swerve confectioners: I use Swerve confectioners sweetener in recipes where the powdered texture of icing sugar is vital. It’s made of erythritol and oligosaccharides.
Swerve brown sugar: If you don’t want to make your own (see molasses below) you can use Swerve brown sugar substitute in recipes.
Molasses: Blackstrap molasses is the least refined molasses and the lowest in glycemic index. It is okay to use in very small amounts to add a brown sugar flavor to plain sweeteners.
Honey: Honey is lower in glycemic index than sugar, which is good. However, it isn’t advisable to ingest honey in abundance while trying to lose weight. THM believes that a teaspoon a day may be useful medicinally, but it’s best not to overdo it.
Not Approved Sweeteners
The primary reasons the following sweeteners are not approved is because they either do spike blood sugar levels, or there are harmful side effects. On the naughty list:
Splenda, sucralose, aspertame, yacon syrup, saccharin, maltodextrin, agave syrup, high fructose corn syrup, Sugar Twin, Sweet’N Low, Twin Sweet, sorbitol, Equal, maltitol, etc.
Please Note: I am not an authorized Trim Healthy Mama coach or blogger, although I play one in fiction…