When I was a preteen I took my first dive into the world of healthy but unpopular choices. I gave up all processed sugars, sugar substitutes, and caffeine, along with foods that had unusually long lists of unrecognizable ingredients in them.

Why? Well, as is a common motivating factor for dietary changes, I was overweight.

Luckily I had some guidance. My mom, like many members of my family, has struggled with weight her whole life. As a result of this and her love of reading, she has read probably every book out there on nutrition, diets, and everything in between. And luckily for me, she loves talking about it.

There are many diets out there. In fact, in my opinion it’s the new religion because everyone out there has their own opinion of what people should be eating. The choice for me felt obvious though. Eat food that the body was evolved to eat, in a form that your system already knows how to deal with, and your body will take care of the rest.

Sugar for example, eat sugar in the form of fruit and the body is happy and healthy. Eat it in the form of table sugar and you run into all sorts of problems.

‘Oh I’m not eating that much,’ you might say, but a word of warning for sugar and all food additives: READ LABELS. When I first gave up sugar etc. and started reading labels, I was shocked at what they put sugar in. Bread? Canned vegetables? Salt?? All yes. What a joke. If there is anything you take away from this post, it must be this: Learn what you are eating. Reading labels has been a godsend for me, even when I went back on sugar etc. for a while, because it meant I was in control of the quantity of those substances.

Anyways, so what happened when I gave up eating food that had been through a lab and back? I lost 55 pounds in a matter of months. I was very skinny then, and over time 10 pounds of that came back to leave me at the nice healthy weight of 135 pounds at the height of 5′ 7″, but I was fine with that, because that was where my body was most comfortable.

Where to Compromise

I did my diet for 10 years before taking a few years off, and now I’m back on it again with my daughter. Whenever making a change to your diet, I recommend making changes for the long haul, because fast fixes are temporary.

I actually feel lucky that I have genes that cause me to gain weight at any slight slip in routine, because it’s a reminder to me that I’m doing something that will affect me negatively in the long run. For all you never-gain-weight people, remember, there are many worse problems that come from eating poorly than weight gain.

That said, just because I’ve chosen a life of no processed sugar doesn’t mean I haven’t found ways to enjoy a wide range of foods and sweets. I totally recommend learning how to cook/bake if you don’t already, because being able to make things like BBQ sauce, muffins, and even chocolate (well, carob) éclairs with all natural ingredients makes life amazing.

For those wanting to join me, a few notes to help you get started:

  • Sweeteners I trust: Maple syrup, maple sugar, honey, stevia (pure green powder form preferably!), date syrup, date sugar, fruit juice.
  • Sweeteners to stay away from: sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, brown sugar, dextrose, maltodextrin, aspartame.

Note: This is by no means a complete list. When in doubt, look it up. I recommend checking out both how they make or acquire said sweetener, and the sweetener’s GI (Glycemic Index).