One of the most common complaints I hear in my functional practice is how hard it is to eliminate refined sugar. For people who are eating a Standard American Diet full of processed foods, sugar is in just about everything, so it’s no surprise that cutting out sugar is tough! If you’re dealing with mood issues, blood sugar issues, or adrenal fatigue, refined sugar can be a highly inflammatory trigger. Instead of cutting it out cold turkey, finding ways to gradually reduce your intake might be easier.
To get you started, here are three sweet swaps for reducing refined sugar.

1. Sweeten your tea with stevia. Here in the south, our iced tea is basically a delivery vehicle for sugar. I stopped drinking sugary sweet tea years ago in favor of tea sweetened with stevia. Extracted from an herb called Sweet Leaf, stevia is a natural alternative to sugar that has zero effect on your blood sugar. A little goes a long way, so just a few drops will do.

2. Bake with coconut sugar. Also known as palm sugar, coconut sugar is a much gentler sweetener than refined sugar. You can swap it cup for cup, so there’s no confusion about how much to use. Coconut sugar doesn’t dissolve in liquid, so it’s best used in baked goods.

3. Mix date paste into your oatmeal. Instead of brown sugar, try mixing date paste into your warm bowl of oatmeal. Date paste is a smooth and creamy all natural sweetener that’s easy to make at home. Use it instead of sugar to sweeten dishes from smoothies to baked goods. Check out my recipe for date paste below.
Date Paste
(makes 1 3/4 cup)
Ingredients:
24 Medjool dates, pitted
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and puree until smooth. Date paste can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge up to one month or frozen for later use.
3 Sweet Swaps for Reducing Refined Sugar
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