**This post is part of the “A Word About Wholefoods Series”. Click here to see the first post and links to other posts in the series.
This post is just a short one, a kind of ‘addition’ to the tips I shared last week.
I do just have one word about sugar when it comes to trying to live a wholefoods diet: unrefined. That is what you are aiming for.
For us, when we started out on wholefoods, I was very reluctant to give up my sugar consumption. I love baking, and have a very sweet tooth! So I decided not to cut out sugar entirely just like that (it probably would have failed straightaway), and instead searched for ways to make some of my baking healthier. (At the end of this series, I will share a little on how to convert recipes, as this was a very important aspect for me.)
The first thing I did was stop using white caster sugar. It is the worst kind of sugar, and you tend to need more of it to get a recipe to the desired sweetness. I had read about the dangers of many sweeteners, so I decided not to go down that route. (I have read much about the benefits of using a natural sweetener such as stevia, and do occasionally buy a sugar + stevia blend from Tate & Lyle when it is on offer, but it is usually too expensive for our monthly budget.)
So, we switched to unrefined dark brown sugars, maple syrup, raw honey and fresh fruit. Now, I had heard that as a general rule, unless you have a particularly sweet tooth, you can fairly comfortably cut down sugar in most baking recipes by about a third, and it is still pleasantly sweet. But because we had switched a much sweeter equivalents like brown sugar, I have often been able to cut the sugar in a recipe by more than that!
Another wonderful discovery for me in baking has been wholemeal flour, as it is far far sweeter than white, so often requires less sugar anyway.
So this was what we started doing. I still make usually about a cake (or something similar) every week, but we have not struggled with weight gain (in fact, we have lost weight!) or any other problems (we actually feel better and more energetic), all because of simple changes in our sugar consumption.
Another thing we have noticed, is that we have steadily needed less and less sweetness. We both have always thoroughly enjoyed sweet things, but now, on the rare occasion we get shop-bought cakes (or have some in a restaurant), we often find it too sweet, as our bodies have got used to something quite different. We now actually no longer cower at the thought of cutting sugar out of our diet almost completely, although we currently don’t feel the need for that.
I will go into more detail in my post on converting recipes, but other things that have been useful have been switching butter for oil and/or yoghurt in cakes, or using homemade extracts and strong flavours in cakes so as to enhance the flavour without adding more sugar.
I hope this has been useful. At the end of the series, I will include a few of my own altered recipes that will hopefully help you put this into practice.