January 9, 2010

The Power of Stevia –sweet without the calories or harmful side effects

You simply must discover stevia! This is an all natural sweetener, a super-sweet one that has been a keystone in my diet for nearly 6 years. This little plant provides a sweetening agent that is nonglycemic and actually assists your body in managing your blood sugar levels. This is a HUGE help during pregnancy when our cravings and blood sugar seems to be up and down and all over the place. I use stevia in everything possible. This is just a personal habit, and I feel personally that out of all the sweeteners out there, that stevia is the safest one available. Sugar in the raw is fine, but let’s face it, I’m not looking for extra calories here.

They have amazing liquid stevia drops that not only come in a plain flavor, but a dozen or more delicious flavored drops that can be added to beverages, smoothies, salad dressings and more. Flavors such as root beer, grape, lemon drop, cherry, vanilla, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and apricot to name a few. You can find these drops at Whole Foods, Mother’s Market, Sunflower Market and many other health food stores , and online.

I add them to sparkling water for a no-calorie, non-chemical beverage, I will add the chocolate flavor to my almond milk when I want chocolate, I will add vanilla to my tea or coffee, or a drop or two of plain stevia to a couple tablespoons of liquid aminos and dash of cayenne pepper for a tasty stir fry sauce. The ideas you’ll come up with are amazing, and you can start experimenting with using stevia in baking, although it is tricky, so I’m not going to get into that here.
When using stevia I notice that I don’t crave sugar or sweets very much at all, and I feel like I’m indulging my sweet tooth all at the same time.

They have powdered stevia that you can sprinkle onto your hot or cold cereal, and packets to go which I carry with me everywhere. I put them in my lattes, teas, and sometimes even in my food when I’m traveling or out and about. And at least daily, I squeeze some lemon into a very tall glass of water, put in a couple drops of stevia and enjoy refreshing, cleansing “lemonade.” I promise you that if you begin implementing stevia into your diet, you will notice a dramatic reduction in your sugar cravings and other cravings.

I personally do not drink soda. Every once in a while I’ll have an all natural root beer if I’m craving one, or my favorite, ginger ale. But I gave up soda about 5 years ago and haven’t looked back. The stuff is caustic to your body. Lie to yourself all you want, but you know deep down that those caramel or brightly dyed carbonated beverages with either 8 teaspoons of refined sugar or God forbid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or sucralose just can’t be good for you, and certainly are not a good nutritious resource for your growing baby. I’m not going to get up on a soap box, but as I always will tell you, do your own research and come up with your own opinion, and make the choices that you can live with.

I will tell you though that drinking either regular or diet sodas will increase your cravings for other sugars and sweets, it will make you bloated, and it will raise your insulin and glycemic levels, making weight gain during pregnancy more likely and weight loss after your birth more difficult. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Do your own research! And try my recipe for natural soda by putting a few drops of flavored stevia into some sparkling water. You’ll be surprised how good it tastes, and you won’t feel an ounce of guilt or an ounce of bloat.
For reading I would recommend the Skinny Bitch: Bun in the Oven book, because they have a whole chapter on artificial sweeteners that I would take to heart, and with a grain of salt.

A great resource that I love and have used repeatedly during my pregnancy is www.mercola.com. He has great articles interviews that you should take advantage of, and provides excellent insight on many prevalent topics. For artificial sweetener and stevia research, I would recommend his article here as a starting point: http://products.mercola.com/sweet-deception/ Beware, truth is sometimes uncomfortable!

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