Sugar Addiction: A Refined Dependency on Sugar

Sugar Addiction: Like A Kid in a Candy Store
Image by Myriam Zilles

Sugar is not only the most prevalent addiction in our society, but it's also the least recognized and one of the hardest to kick. You may think, What's this -- sugar? An addiction? The answer is a resounding yes! Think about it -- have you ever seen a kid freak out in the vegetable aisle? And have you ever had an overwhelming, makes-your-mouth-water, not-to-be-denied craving for, say, a turnip? Doesn't quite inspire the same feelings of passion that so many of us -- especially women -- have for chocolate, does it?

Sugar, like a drug, makes the body feel good, and when that feeling passes, the body craves more. Yet almost no one calls sugar an addictive substance. What's truly frightening about it is that sugar is found in practically every food product on the grocery store shelf. Are we a society of unknowing addicts? Perhaps.

Sweet History of Sugar

Sugar is derived from sugarcane (Saccharum oficinarum) and sugar beet (Beta vulgaris).

Sugar was so precious in past ages that it was used only in small amounts to flavor medicines. And it was expensive -- in the early fourteenth century sugar sold for two shillings a pound in London. Today this would be about a hundred dollars a kilo, or almost fifty dollars a pound. One hundred years ago the average American ate about four pounds of sugar a year. Now that number has risen to about 150 pounds per person per year. That adds up to five tons in a lifetime!

White sugar as we know it first became available in 1812, when a chemist found a way to make "chemically pure" sugar, defined as 99.5 percent sucrose.

To make white sugar, sugarcane is first crushed, or sugar beets are first sliced, and infused in hot water. The cane or beets are then fed through rollers to extract their juice. The juice is filtered through charred animal bones to remove impurities, then boiled to allow excess water to evaporate, and then seeded with sugar crystals to encourage crystallization. After crystallization the sugar is spun in high-speed machines, similar to clothes dryers, which separate the sugar from the syrup.

In traditional Chinese medicine
sugar cravings are seen as

a desire for "the mother energy"
or a need for comfort and security.

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Sugar Addiction: A Refined Dependency on Sugar

In our society we are born and bred to be sugar addicts. Unlike other highly addictive substances -- cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs -- which can be difficult to procure, finding food products without sugar can be a challenge. By the time most people have their first experience with alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, they've been sugar addicts for years.

Nature most likely planned us to be attracted to the nutrients available in sweet foods. For example, our first food, mother's milk, is naturally sweet. However, the process of refining -- which is as complex as that for getting heroin from poppies and cocaine from coca leaves -- removes all the accompanying nutrients and fiber from the original plant material. Only the sucrose is kept. Because sugar is so refined, it doesn't require much processing by the body and passes almost directly into the intestines and bloodstream just like a drug. And like a drug, sugar can be habit forming. If you don't think you're addicted, just try to go a couple of weeks without it!

Sugar addiction is, in part, a by-product of sugar's purity -- the body is not suited to accommodate this level of refinement. Simple sugars -- found in white table sugar, corn syrup, fructose, honey, white flour, or any other super-refined carbohydrate -- are refined to the point that digestion is practically superfluous. When you consume simple sugars, they are passed quickly into the bloodstream. Blood sugar levels skyrocket, and you experience a lift in energy. But that feeling of increased energy and mental alertness is very temporary. As most of us can confirm, sugar highs lead to sugar crashes. And when that buzz wears off, the body cries out for more sugar.

Serotonin: Sugar as an Antidepressant

Sugar is also an antidepressant of sorts. Consumption of sugar triggers the release of the brain chemical serotonin, which elevates mood and alleviates depression. Sugar cravings are often a misguided attempt by the body to increase serotonin levels in the system and thus elevate mood. Sugar cravings can also be caused by low endorphin levels, hypoglycemia, endocrine imbalances, candida, and nutritional deficiencies.

Those suffering from sugar addiction often experience irritability, headaches, mood swings, and insomnia. Signs of sugar withdrawal include restlessness, nervousness, headache, and depression.

Studies in prisons indicate that violence
is remarkably reduced when sugar and
refined carbohydrates are eliminated from the diet.

The Real Scoop on Sugar & Health

It's an undisputed fact that sugar contributes to dental cavities. Sugar interacts with bacteria in the mouth to produce acids that make holes in the teeth enamel. Sugar also contributes to plaque accumulation. Knowing this, do we cut back on our sugar consumption? No. We simply put fluoride in our drinking water and train more dentists.

But sugar has a great many more ill effects on the human body. Sugar stands accused of causing both hypoglycemia and diabetes. It has been linked to numerous mental disorders, including depression, hyperactivity, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and phobias. It weakens the immune system, encourages the growth of infections, and lowers the production of antibodies. It overtaxes the spleen, pancreas, and small intestines. Overconsumption of sugar contributes to the development of allergies, anemia, arthritis, cancer, Crohn's disease, gout, headaches, heart disease, herpes, hyperactivity, impotence, obesity, osteoporosis, PMS, and yeast infections.

Sugar is often called an antinutrient. Overconsumption of simple sugars causes the body to use up its supplies of calcium, potassium, thiamin, and chromium. And all sugars, even natural ones, appear to compete with vitamin C for transportation into white blood cells. Without adequate amounts of vitamin C, the immune system becomes severely compromised.

Link Between Sugar Consumption & Diabetes

The link between sugar consumption and diabetes was recognized as long ago as 1929, when Sir Frederick Banting observed that Panamanian sugar plantation owners, who consumed refined sugar, had a much higher incidence of diabetes than their workers, who ate only unrefined cane sugar.

When simple sugars are ingested, they raise blood glucose levels. The pancreas responds by releasing insulin, which stabilizes the blood sugar levels. Over time, if simple sugars are overconsumed, the pancreas becomes overly sensitive to sugar, and insulin secretion becomes excessive, causing a persistent hypoglycemic state. If this pattern continues, the pancreas becomes overworked and ceases to be a reliable source of insulin; the body suffers from elevated blood sugar levels and can develop Type 2 diabetes. The incidence of adult-onset diabetes in the United States has increased proportionately to the increase in sugar consumption. Diabetes is now the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

The -Ose Cousins: Fructose, Dextrose, Sucrose, Maltose, etc.

Check the ingredients list on some prepared foods in your refrigerator and cabinets. You just might be surprised at how much sugar is in them. Don't see "sugar" listed? Look for its "-ose" cousins: fructose, dextrose, sucrose, maltose, et cetera. They may hide behind high-tech chemical names, but at heart they're all sugar.

The -ose cousins come in a range of molecular complexity. Monosaccharides, or simple sugars, are quickly digested and passed on almost directly to the bloodstream. Disaccharides are slightly more complex; they must be broken down by enzymes before they can be fully digested. Polysaccharides are even more complex; these are the sugars you find naturally occurring in whole grains and starches. The more complex a sugar is, the more slowly it's digested, and the less startling the effect it has on your blood sugar levels.

Some of the more common -ose cousins you're likely to come across include:

* Dextrose is made from corn, sugarcane, or sugar beets. It's a highly refined monosaccharide and is thus very quickly absorbed.

* Fructose, also known as levulose, occurs naturally in fruits, many plants, and honey. For commercial purposes it's derived from corn, sugarcane, or sugar beets. Although it's more slowly absorbed than white sugar (sucrose), it's still a highly refined simple sugar. It's slightly sweeter than white sugar.

* Glucose is the same sugar our bodies use for energy; it's also found in many fruits, vegetables, and grains. Glucose is stored by the liver in the form of glycogen and released when a burst of energy is needed. It's a monosaccharide, or simple sugar, and is absorbed into the bloodstream almost immediately. When glucose is derived from foods such as legumes and whole grains, it's metabolized more slowly and is easier on the body.

* Lactose is a disaccharide composed of glucose and galactose. Found in the milk of mammalian mothers, it's only slightly sweet.

* Maltose. Also known as malt sugar, maltose is found in barley and rice syrups. As a disaccharide, or complex sugar, it takes longer to digest, which is desirable: it keeps blood sugar levels from skyrocketing. It's made by the fermentation of starches by enzymes or yeast.

* Sucrose is composed mainly of glucose and fructose. It comprises 99.5 percent of common white table sugar. A simple sugar, it's speedily absorbed by the body.

What About Artificial Sweeteners?

Without sugar substitutes we'd have no one-calorie soda and no sugar-free ice cream. Artificial sweeteners offer that sweet taste with few or no calories; as the labels say, they are indeed nonnutritive. But they're also potentially among the most toxic food additives in the grocery store today.

Studies have linked the two most common artificial sweeteners, aspartame and saccharin, to cancer development in mice and rats. Saccharin is synthesized from petrochemicals. Aspartame produces methanol -- a volatile, flammable, poisonous liquid alcohol -- in the digestive tract. Is this what you want to put in your body? You might be better off with sugar!

All the Sugar in the World

There are myriad sugar manifestations and simulations. Below you'll find descriptions of the most common sugars and sugar substitutes you're likely to find in a grocery or natural foods store. Don't think, though, that because a sweetener is all-natural it's also better for you than white sugar.

Most alternatives to white table sugar are comprised almost completely of simple sugars and can affect your body to almost the same degree as can straight sucrose. Read the descriptions carefully. If you're looking for alternatives to white table sugar, seek out those that are not stripped of their nutrients, that are absorbed by the body more slowly than white sugar, and that are not composed solely of simple sugars.

Mosquitoes are more attracted
to people who eat lots of sugar.

Diabetics, Hypoglycemics and All Forms of Sugar

Diabetics and hypoglycemics should avoid all concentrated sweeteners except under the advice of a qualified health care professional.

* Agave is derived from the blue agave plant. It's absorbed by the body more slowly than white table sugar; it's rich in natural fructose and nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.

* Amasake is made from rice that has been inoculated with koji, the same aspergillus culture used to make miso. During fermentation, the rice starches are converted to sugar, making them sweet and easy to digest. Amasake is about 21 percent simple sugars, namely glucose and maltose. It also contains some carbohydrates, iron, potassium, and B vitamins.

* Aspartame is made by combining two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine. It's currently found in more than three thousand food products. Aspartame contains only about four calories per gram and is 180 to 200 times sweeter than white sugar, so very little is needed. Aspartame can cause headaches, dizziness, numbness, cramps, abdominal pain, depression, and, in certain individuals, seizures. Although laboratory studies show that it can cause brain tumors in animals, and there is concern that it can cause mental retardation in unborn babies, aspartame is approved as a sweetener. When it's heated, the methanol contained in aspartame breaks down into carcinogenic formaldehyde. For those rare people who suffer from phenylketonuria, consuming aspartame can cause irreversible mental retardation. There have been more complaints about aspartame to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) than any other food additive in the FDA's history.

* Barley, rye, and wheat malts. Barley malt syrup is a traditional sugar substitute. It's made from soaked, sprouted, or dried barley that has been cooked with water to make a sweet dark syrup. It can ferment if stored longer than a year. Because it's aborbed more slowly than sugar, it has a less extreme effect on blood sugar levels. The sweetness in barley malt syrup derives from maltose and glucose; it's about 40 percent complex carbohydrates and 3 percent protein. Rye and wheat malts are new to the sugar substitute field. They have similar properties to barley malt.

* Brown sugar is white sugar with a small amount of molasses added back in. It's about 93.8 percent sucrose and has very small amounts of calcium, iron, and potassium.

* Cane sugar. Unrefined cane sugar (also known as granulated cane juice) is simply sugarcane with its water content removed. It's processed mechanically rather than with chemicals. About 85 percent sucrose, it has a fuller, more rounded flavor than white table sugar. It contains all of the minerals naturally occurring in sugarcane as well as some of the trace mineral chromium, B vitamins, and amino acids, which can all help curb sugar cravings. When sugarcane is cut, it's composed of only about 10 to 14 percent sucrose. After being refined, it's 99.5 percent sucrose.

Unrefined cane sugar does not cause tooth decay. In a study conducted in 1937 at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, scientists placed thirty-two extracted teeth in water sweetened with refined sugar. After eight weeks fifteen of the teeth had developed cavities. When the same study was done on teeth submerged in unrefined cane juice, only three teeth developed cavities.

* Carob tastes similar to chocolate but does not contain any caffeine. Without any additives, it's about 46 percent sugars. It also contains some protein, B vitamins, and potassium.

* Corn syrup. Corn starch with all its nutrients chemically removed except the starch makes corn syrup. It's absorbed very quickly by the body. It contains up to 70 percent simple sugars (mostly glucose) as well as some complex carbohydrates. It's somewhat less sweet than white table sugar. Many people are allergic to corn, and thus to corn syrup as well.

* Date sugar is made of dehydrated ground dates. It contains sucrose, glucose, fructose, complex carbohydrates, and all the nutrients found in dates. It's about equal in sweetness to regular sugar.

* Fruit juice. Fruit juice concentrates are usually derived from grapes, peaches, pears, and pineapples. They're usually about 68 percent simple sugars, mainly sucrose and fructose. Commercial fruit juice concentrates made from grapes can have an especially high amount of pesticide residues.

* Honey is made from flowers by the grace of bees. Flower nectar is rich in sucrose, and the bees transform this product with their stomach enzymes into honey. Bees work hard for this commodity: the average bee produces half a teaspoon of honey in its entire lifetime. Honey contains trace amounts of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. The darker honeys are richer in minerals. Honey contains fructose, sucrose, and glucose. Like white sugar, it's quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. However, it's sweeter than sugar, so less of it can be used. Buy raw unfiltered honey, because heat processing can destroy honey's valuable yet delicate enzymes.

Don't give honey to children under the age of two. Honey can contain tiny amounts of botulism spores, which are not a danger for adults but can cause problems for the still-developing digestive systems of very young children.

* Mannitol is sugar alcohol that is slightly less sweet than white table sugar. Natural mannitol is derived from plants, most commonly seaweed, but commercial-grade mannitol is derived from sugar.

Mannitol should not be given to children, as it can give them diarrhea. It has also been implicated in gastrointestinal and kidney disturbances in adults.

* Maple syrup is derived from the sap of sugar maple trees. It takes about forty gallons of sap from a maple tree to produce just one gallon of maple syrup. Maple syrup is about 65 percent sucrose; it also contains some B vitamins as well as calcium and potassium. The lighter syrups, which are given the higher grade of A, have lesser amounts of minerals than do the darker, lower-and less expensive-grades such as B and C. If maple syrup isn't labeled PURE MAPLE SYRUP, it may be cut with corn syrup. Maple sugar is made from the syrup.

* Molasses. As a by-product of sugar manufacture, molasses contains the nutrients that are removed from white table sugar. It's 50 to 70 percent simple sugars, but it also contains some B vitamins, iron, and calcium. Blackstrap molasses is less refined and higher in nutrients than the lighter varieties. Look for unsulfured varieties; sulfur dioxide is sometimes used as a molasses preservative and bleaching agent, and it destroys vitamins A and B, is highly irritating to the body, and can cause allergic reactions for sensitive people.

* Raw sugar is white table sugar just before the molasses has been extracted. It's about 96 percent sucrose and still retains a trace amount of minerals.

* Rice syrup is often made from cooked rice and sprouted barley. It has a milder flavor than straight barley malt. Of all the sweeteners, it's the one highest in protein and does contain some B vitamins and potassium, especially if made from brown rather than white rice. Brown rice syrup contains maltose, glucose, and complex carbohydrates. It has a pleasant butterscotch-like flavor.

* Saccharin is manufactured from petroleum and toluene. It's severely sweet and calorie-free. Research done with rats has linked saccharin to bladder cancer and kidney damage. In 1977 the FDA wanted to ban it, but such was the outcry from sugar-crazed consumers that saccharin is now permitted, although warning labels must be posted on its packages.

* Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol derived from glucose and dextrose. Like mannitol, it's made from corn and is about 60 percent as sweet as sugar. Since it's absorbed slowly, it's often used as a sweetener by diabetics. It's unlikely to cause tooth decay, though some people have complained of diarrhea from its use. There has also been some suspicion that sorbitol can cause cataracts.

* Sorghum is the concentrated juice of a plant called sweet sorghum (Horcus sorghum saccara), a relative of millet. It's about 65 percent sucrose with some mineral content. It has a taste slightly lighter than that of molasses.

* Stevia is a perennial shrub with a long history of use in South America as a sweetener. One leaf is enough to sweeten a cup of tea yet contains less than one-tenth of a calorie. Stevia contains 20 percent stevioside, a glycoside that is about two hundred times sweeter than sugar. Though further studies are being conducted, it seems not to have adverse effects for those with diabetes, hypoglycemia, or candida.

In addition to being a sweetener, stevia is traditionally used as a wound healer, tonic, energizer, and digestive aid.

* Turbinado sugar is sugarcane or sugar beets at an intermediate stage between raw sugar and refined sugar. It's about 95 percent sucrose.

* White sugar. This is the common table sugar we're accustomed to. White sugar is 99.5 percent sucrose. All of its nutrients are removed in processing and bleaching. It's derived from either sugar beets or sugarcane, which are usually grown with large amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and deplete the soil quickly. Sugar contains calories but no vitamins or minerals, and as you've read earlier it can actually deplete the body of nutrients.

* Xylitol is derived from xylan, a compound found in birchwood pulp, pecan shells, straw, and corncobs. It has the same sweetness as sucrose but doesn't cause cavities and may even neutralize acids in the mouth that decay the teeth. There's some controversy as to whether or not xylitol irritates the bladder.

Chocolate: Sugar Addiction and Then Some

Chocolate comes from the seed of the cacao plant (Theobroma cacao), which is native to the American Tropics. Cacao goes by various names, including chocolate, cocoa, cacaotier, and devil's food. The common chocolate derives from the Aztec word for the cacao plant, chocolatl.

The seed of the cacao plant is composed of about 2.5 percent naturally occurring sugars (sucrose and dextrose), 3 percent theobromine, a small amount of caffeine, and 40 to 60 percent fat. The combination of theobromine and caffeine makes chocolate a potent stimulant. Theobromine opens the coronary artery, increasing blood flow to the heart and improving circulation. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, masking fatigue and increasing energy levels. In fact, chocolate bars were issued to U.S. armed forces during World War II as "fighting food"; it was believed that the chocolate would help them stay awake and alert.

Cacao is naturally bitter to the taste. Most commercial chocolate today, however, has a low cacao content and high levels of sugar and hydrogenated oil. Sugar, as I have discussed, is an addictive substance that stimulates highs in both energy and mood. Chocolate's fats elevate levels of endorphins and enkephalins, which lift mood and soothe frazzled nerves, as well as of a chemical called phenylethylamine. Phenylethylamine is an addictive, mood-elevating, amphetamine-like stimulant. It's used by the brain to make norepinephrine, which slows the breakdown of endorphins and enkephalines. Psychiatrists have theorized that those who binge on chocolate may have an inability to regulate natural body levels of phenylethylamine.

Since it contains both sugar and caffeine, chocolate is a highly addictive substance. It can aggravate chronic states of insomnia, anxiety, and irritability and contribute to acne, cavities, depression, heartburn, heart disease, herpes, irritable bowel, kidney stones, migraines, obesity, and shingles. Withdrawal can cause headaches and intense cravings.

Cacao: History and Facts

* Cacao beans were once used as a currency in the Yucatan.

* Theobroma, the genus name given to cacao by the Swedish botanist Linn'us, translates as "food of the gods."

* Cacao is high in magnesium, so if you have strong chocolate cravings, your body may be trying to let you know that supplementation is in order.

Conjuring Sugar Addiction with Behavior Therapy

Start by keeping a food journal. Write down everything you eat and drink, from the juice you drink at breakfast to the bite of chocolate you have to help you through the afternoon at work to the pasta and bread you eat for dinner. Tracking your eating habits can help you be more aware of just how much sugar -- in the form of white sugar and simple carbohydrates -- you're consuming.

Read labels when you're shopping. You'll likely be surprised at how much sugar (of many different varieties) is in the food you're accustomed to eating.

Cut back on your sugar intake gradually so you don't shock your system. Begin by banishing high-sugar sweets from your home. Start eating more whole grains and fewer pastas and breads made from white flour. When you have a sugar craving in the afternoon, eat a banana or an apple. Use seven-grain bread instead of white. Substitute natural sugars for refined white table sugar.

At first, avoiding foods high in simple sugars, such as chocolate, ice cream, and white bread, can be difficult. You may be a bit irritable, suffer from mood swings, and feel mentally sluggish, and you may have to battle with yourself not to give in to your sugar cravings. In just a few weeks, however, you'll find that saying no to sweets is second nature. You'll feel energized, alert, and healthier, and you will no longer suffer from sugar cravings. Eating less sugar will improve your physical and emotional health. And the more you improve the condition of your body and mind, the less you'll crave sugar.

Blood Sugar Levels and Nutritional Therapy

To keep your blood sugar levels stable and to minimize sugar cravings, eat foods rich in protein and B vitamins. To break the sugar habit, avoid refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, and pasta; eat more complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, brown rice, and millet. Eat less salt, and fewer dairy products; they'll cause you to crave something sweet later.

Slow down and savor the natural sweetness in food, noticing the "full" taste rather than the "hollow," empty-of-nutrients sweetness. Chew all your food slowly and thoroughly. Be present with what you're eating. Enjoy herbal teas without sweeteners.

Craving sweets can be an indication that the body needs more protein. Nuts can be a good snack alternative.

When you have sugar cravings, eat sweet foods that are more nourishing than sugary sweets, such as beets, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and corn. If you really need a fix, try slowly eating some fresh fruit or figs.

Easing Sugar Withdrawal with Supplement Therapy

There's a variety of supplements you can take that will help ease you through the withdrawal period and repair some of the damage sugar has done to your health.

B-complex vitamins 25-100 mg Will help you overcome sugar cravings.
Calcium-magnesium 1,000 mg calcium plus 500 mg magnesium daily Will help you overcome sugar cravings. Supplements can help you keep your cool during the sugar withdrawal period.
Vitamin C 3,000 mg daily Antioxidant; also essential for tissue repair.
Zinc 15-25 mg daily Antioxidant; also essential for tissue repair.
Chromium 200 mg up to five times daily Stabilizes blood sugar levels, helps insulin work more efficiently, and keeps your mind off sweets. Decrease this dosage as you can.
L-glutamine 500 mg four times daily Helps satisfy the body's craving for sugar. Take your dosages between meals for maximum effect.
L-glycine 500 mg twice daily Has a calming effect on the mind and, in the recommended dosages, can be energizing. Take your dosages between meals for maximum effect.
Spirulina, blue-green alg', and chlorella supplements Follow the dosage instruction on the package. Can help deter sugar cravings by providing protein and nourishing complex carbohydrates. You can usually buy these supplements in natural food stores.

Herbal Therapy to Prevent Sugar Cravings

Gymnema is a superb sugar buster. Gymnema prevents the taste buds from being activated by sugar and actually blocks sugar from being absorbed during digestion. The molecular arrangement of gymnema is very similar to that of glucose; it adheres to the sensors in the taste buds where sugar would be tasted. The tissue structure in the intestines is similar to that of the taste buds; gymnema fills the receptor sites there as well so that sugar is not absorbed. And when gymnema is ingested, it decreases the desire to eat sweet foods. To help kick your sugar habit, take 2 gymnema capsules three times daily. As your sugar cravings diminish, decrease the dosage.

To stave off a strong sugar craving, take a dose of herbal bitters -- about 1 dropperful of tincture -- on your tongue. You can find herbal bitters at most natural foods stores and herb shops.

Herbal Therapy for Chocolate Cravings

If you're craving chocolate, try drinking tea made from anise, fennel, and licorice root. These herbs are nutritive and contain natural sugars that stabilize blood sugar levels, thus helping diminish the cravings for sweets. You can also do inhalations of aromatic essential oils, which will give your brain a dose of something pleasurable without indulging in anything addictive. Several essential oils are particularly helpful in staving off chocolate cravings:

* Anise smells sweet and is naturally calming.

* Cardamom is naturally spicy and invigorating -- a great combination for chocolate lovers.

* Cinnamon smells sweet, calms the nerves, and invigorates the senses.

* Clove smells spicy and reduces mental fatigue and nervousness.

* Fennel smells sweet and stimulating, and reduces cravings for sweets.

* Nutmeg is stimulating and promotes alertness.

* Rose promotes feelings of love and emotional openness, lifts depression, and gives comfort during times of sorrow.

* Vanilla is sweet and helps diminish pent-up frustrations.

Natural Sweeteners as Sugar Substitutes

Cutting refined sugar from your diet doesn't mean that there'll be no sweetness in your life. Just substitute natural sweeteners, and use them in moderation. Those sweeteners followed by an asterisk (*) have more complex components, have a slower effect on blood sugar, and thus should be preferred.

For every cup of white sugar called for in a recipe, substitute one of the items on the following chart:

Agave syrup* Use in equal amounts to sugar called for. Reduce any liquids called for in recipe by one-half to one-third.
Amasake* 1 1/2 cups Reduce any liquids called for in recipe by one-half.
Barley malt syrup* 1 1/3 cups Reduce any liquids called for in recipe by one-fourth. Adding 1/4 tsp. baking soda for every cup barley malt used will help baked goods rise.
Cane sugar unrefined* Use in equal amounts to sugar called for.  
Date sugar* 2/3-1 cup Burns easily, so cook with care.
Fruit juice 2/3 cup Reduce any liquids called for concentrate in recipe by one-third. Add 1/a tsp. baking soda for every cup fruit sweetener.
Granulated fruit sweetener 1 1/4 cups Avoid baking at higher than 350 degrees.
Fructose 1/2-2/3 cup  
Honey* 1/2 cup Reduce any liquids called for in recipe by one-eighth. Reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees and cook things a bit longer.
Maple syrup* 3/4 cup Reduce any liquid called for in recipe by a little less than one-fourth (by 3 tablespoons for every cup). Add 1/a tsp. baking soda for every cup maple syrup used.
Molasses* 1/2 cup Reduce any liquids called for in recipe by one-fourth.
Rice syrup* 1 1/3 cups Reduce any liquids called for in recipe by one-fourth. If you're baking, add 1/4 tsp. baking soda for every cup rice syrup to help product rise.
Sorghum 1/2 cup Reduce any liquids called for in recipe by one-fourth.
Stevia* 1 tsp. Increase any liquids in recipe by one-eighth. Wow!

Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Healing Arts Press. ©2001.

Article Source:

Addiction-Free--Naturally: Liberating Yourself from Tobacco, Caffeine, Sugar, Alcohol, Prescription Drugs
by Brigitte Mars.

This article is excerpted from the book: Addiction-Free Naturally by Brigitte Mars. Addiction-Free--Naturally offers gentle but effective ways to ease cravings and nourish the body, as well as information on cleansing the body of accumulated toxins and using natural remedies for stress relief. The remedies can be used in conjunction with conventional therapies, such as psychotherapy or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The author also offers advice on designing a personal program to break addiction and finding a health care professional or program to offer expert guidance as you walk the road to recovery.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book. Also available as a Kindle edition.

About the Author

Brigitte Mars, author of the article: SUGAR: Like A Kid in a Candy StoreBrigitte Mars, a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild, is an herbalist nutritional consultant, and teacher with thirty years of experience. She is the author of Herbs for Healthy Hair, Skin, and Nails; Natural First Aid; and Dandelion Medicine. The formulator' for allGoode Organics (formerly UniTea Herbs), she lives in Boulder, Colorado. Visit her website at

Video/Presentation with Brigitte Mars: Protecting Oneself from Super Viruses through Diet


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