Self, Health And Wellness

It's Sugar's Fault, Not Your Age! 5 Alternatives To Sugary Treats

I specialize in wellness yet after a recent birthday, I began to feel my advancing years might be slowing me down and causing fatigue, painful joints and more. I was regularly experiencing digestion issues and often waking up with lower back pains and various twinges throughout my body. 

Could it be that in spite of my healthy lifestyle, signs of aging were inevitably creeping in?

I decided to do a food detox and convinced Patrick, my life partner, to do it with me, especially since he loves to cook and prepares most of our meals. He was suffering with terrible hip pains and increasing neuropathy in his feet. He was strongly considering hip replacement surgery.

We used Dr. Mark Hyman's 10-Day Detox Diet which sounds drastic in that it eliminates all sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol and coffee. We got creative with our meal planning and cooking for two. From the first day, we started a countdown—only nine more days, eight more, seven, and so on. We can do it. The experience became an adventure.

Sugar Is Far Worse Than Cocaine.

The toughest lesson was learning how sugars are insidiously hidden in foods like ketchup and innocent-looking BBQ sauces in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Sugar hijacks our bodies by stimulating the pleasure centers of the brain.

Studies have shown that sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine. It wreaks havoc disturbing metabolism, impairing brain function contributing to diabetes, weight gain and feeding cancers.

Sugar, in all its hideous forms, had caused our downfall. No doubt, we were seriously addicted. The rest of our diet had been fairly healthy and in alignment with Dr. Hyman's recommendations of wild-caught fish, free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, omega-3 eggs.

We detoxed our pantry and refrigerator (shocked that even packaged chicken salad contained corn syrups). We re-stocked with basics including healthy fats such as olive and coconut oils, coconut and almond milks and flours, all kinds of nuts, plus lots of spices. We eliminated almost all packaged foods, opting instead for whole, real foods.

We got creative. I actually started baking biscuits and muffins (even crackers!), making my own mayonnaise and salad dressings. I actually found the experience fun. It just requires a shift in mind set and leap out of old habits to embrace a new way of thinking about food.

Avoid All Forms.

The problem is that sugar masquerades under many different names.  It is essential to check labels beyond just how many grams of sugar. Food manufacturers want us to be addicted to their products.

Eliminate all of these sugars as additives: Barley malt, Beet sugar, Brown sugar, Cane juice in any form, Caramel, Corn syrup, Dextrose, Diatase, Ethyl maltol, Glucose, Galactose, High fructose corn syrup, Lactose, Malt syrup, Maltose, Sorghum syrup, Sugar and Turbinado.

Artificial sweeteners are even worse and have been linked to weight gain, vision problems, depression and brain cancer. Keep reading as I provide alternative sweeteners to consider.

The Outcome.

At first, we didn't think it was possible to stick to the diet. We chipped away one day at a time. In only three days, we were surprised that our sugar (and coffee) cravings were already diminished. Within seven days, they were gone completely and so were all the aches and pains. 

Yes, in one week all of the physical problems vanished. We were high-fiving each other and doing cartwheels. After so many years of suffering, (and dangerously taking too many Ibuprophens), Patrick was stunned that his hip no longer hurt.

Another remarkable benefit is that the real food we eat tastes better; strawberries are sweeter, nuts are nuttier, homemade sauces are richer. We're continuing to enjoy a completely different approach to food and snacks. Sugar is now considered poison in our minds. 

As for the increased expense of organic products and the time needed to make our own goods, we believe we're saving money on surgeries and other medical expenses and we're increasing our longevity so spending that time is giving us back extended time. A win win.

5 Alternatives To Satisfy A Sweet Tooth

I've found these as great alternatives to provide sweetness:

  1. Fresh Fruit: While containing fructose, fruit like berries, apples, cantaloupes, etc. also deliver fiber and minerals.  I opt for organically-grown as much as affordable.
  2. Dates: I add these to smoothies or to baked goods as a sweetener.
  3. Stevia: Another natural plant-based product, a tiny pinch goes a long way.
  4. Honey: I prefer local organic honey which I still use in moderation so I don't reactivate cravings.
  5. Apple Sauce: Also a good sweet additive for baking needs. I've used it in muffins and cakes.

Besides Dr. Hyman's recipes, there are hundreds of websites with fabulous ideas. (I even used one for homemade chocolate.) My favorite site is Katie's. She's a young mom with five kids; her site is: She's well-informed and raises healthy cooking to a fine art.

In the end, food feeds the body and mind. Like a car, the body needs good quality fuel to run optimally. It isn't that hard if you truly want to feel awesome! Healthy food is clearly one of the best anti-aging remedies. Many years in the future, I'm expecting to celebrate my 105th birthday!

Peggy Sealfon is a personal development coach and author of the forthcoming book Escape from Anxiety—Supercharge Your Life with Powerful Strategies from A to Z.  Contact her at Feeling unsettled and anxious?  Try her FREE audio to reduce stress and handle challenges more effortlessly.