Why Intuitive Eating Might Not Work for You

Intuitive eating is one of those weight-loss fads people swear by, but is it actually effective? Like so many weight loss methods floating around out there, it may work for you or it may not. I know, that’s so noncommittal. But let me explain.

Intuitive eating isn’t a diet. It’s a method of eating that gives its users a great degree of freedom of what and how much they eat. Some people experience success with intuitive eating and are able to use the technique to lose excess weight. But unfortunately, not everyone responds well to this dietary strategy. In fact, it can cause some people to gain even more weight!

So how can you tell if intuitive eating is a good strategy for you to try, or if it will cause you to fall back even further on your weight-loss journey? While you won’t know for sure unless you try it, here are a few indications that intuitive eating might not work for you (even if it worked for your sister, best friend, or cousin Harry).

Understanding How Intuitive Eating Works

Before we dive into the pros and cons of intuitive eating, let’s review what it is and what it isn’t, shall we? Intuitive eating is a pretty simple idea, and its main principles were developed in 1995 by two dietitians (Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch).

The main idea behind this type of eating is to come to peaceful terms with all different types of foods. You’re not supposed to refer to any foods as bad or off-limits when you adopt this way of eating. Instead, you do the following:

  • Listen to your body and consume what feels right in the moment

  • Eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full

  • Select foods that make your mind and body feel good while satisfying your health needs

  • Respect your emotions and seek treatment for them instead of engaging in emotional eating

Some people may lose weight with this eating strategy, but many others may not. Here are a few indications you may not want to try intuitive eating.

Indications Intuitive Eating May Not Be Right for You

Here are a few indications that intuitive eating may not work for your situation:

  • You have certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Consult with your doctor to see if there are certain foods you should add or cut out of your diet completely.

  • You don’t know how to recognize your body’s hunger or satiety signals. Eating intuitively sounds great in theory, but what if you don’t trust your body’s intuition? For some people, counting calories is a more reliable way to avoid overeating (or undereating).

  • You have a hard time losing weight. If you already struggle to lose weight, you may plateau or even gain weight by eating intuitively. Some people have higher ghrelin levels than others (that’s the hormone that triggers hunger), and they’re more likely to gain weight if they always eat until they’re full. For people like this, tracking calorie and macro intakes is essential for weight-loss success.

  • You’re addicted to sugar. Yes, science shows that it’s possible to become addicted to sugar. And if you follow the intuitive eating mindset, you can eat sugar if you really want it. As you can imagine, this can lead to over-indulgence for people whose relationship with sugar is out of control. It’s generally best to stay away from sugar or severely limit it in your diet rather than allow yourself to eat it “intuitively.”

So there you have it. If any of the above bullet points sound like you, intuitive eating may be something you want to skip (especially if you are trying to lose weight).

What Are The Health Benefits Of Adaptogenic Mushrooms?

Adaptogenic mushrooms have gotten a lot of attention for their ability to mitigate the impact of stress on the body. These fungus species are rich in compounds called adaptogens, which help the body shield itself from the physical, chemical and biological impact of stress. During stressful times, adaptogens allow us to maintain normal function. Explore the benefits of adaptogenic mushrooms and learn more about how to incorporate this ingredient into your diet. 

Improved Stamina

A 2003 rodent study published in the Japanese journal Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin found that the Cordyceps sinensis mushroom reduced fatigue during stressful activities. The researchers reported that rats given the mushroom showed fewer physical markers of stress during forced exercise than rats who did not eat the mushroom. Proponents of the Cordyceps species theorize that it facilitates and enhances the flow of oxygen throughout the body. 

A small study on adult men published in High Altitude Medicine & Biology in 2014 found that taking both Cordyceps sinensis and Rhodiola crenulata decreased signs of fatigue during brief high-altitude training exercises. Research that appeared in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that athletes had less overtraining-related stress after taking Ganoderma lucidum with Cordyceps sinesis. A study published in the Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences found that Ganoderma lucidum found that the mushroom reduced oxidative stress within rodent muscles after physical activity.

Reduced Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Science found that the lion's mane mushroom decreased nervous system levels of a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in mice. Inability to regulate BDNF can result in stress and depression. 

The reishi mushroom is rich in compounds called tripertenes, which research has associated with improved sleep quality and sharper focus as well as reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Protection From Memory Impairment

Research published in the journal Nature in 2020 touted the adaptogenic effect of the reishi mushroom in rodent students. The study authors reported that a dose of the mushroom protected rats from memory and nerve damage with limited oxygen levels. 

The lion's mane mushroom has similar benefits for memory and cognition. In fact, it encourages production of myelin and nerve growth factor, both of which play key roles in brain health. Not only can this mushroom increase concentration and improve mood, it also has potential in reducing symptoms of multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and other neurocognitive issues.

Boosted Immunity

The reishi mushroom has long been used to stimulate the immune system. along with other adaptogenic mushroom species such as cordyceps, lion's mane, maitake, shiitake, turkey tail and chaga. These shrooms are bursting with cancer-fighting free radicals that help destroy disease cells and support other immune functions. 

The turkey tail mushroom is a vital source of polysaccharide-K, approved as a prescription medication in Japan for cancer patients. PSK can provide immune system support during chemotherapy, destroy leukemia cells and even reduce the mortality rates for certain kinds of cancer. 

Improved Cardiac Health

Reishi also contains compounds called beta-glucans and triterpenes, which help decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol and overall cholesterol in the blood. It's not the only adaptogenic mushroom that can boost heart health, however. Chaga, which is rich in antioxidants, can decrease blood pressure to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. 

Shiitakes are also heart health superheroes. These mushrooms contain phytonutrients that facilitate healthy blood flow, keep blood pressure within a healthy range and prevent plaque from building up within the arteries.

If you're a fan of fungi, try adding any of these adaptogenic mushrooms to your meal rotation to enhance your overall wellness. You can also mix the powdered version of these shrooms with soups, smoothies, juices and sauces for a savory nutritional boost. 

Are You Eating Enough Calories?

Culture seems to be diet-centric anymore. A new dietary claim is made almost every month or so, and countless people jump aboard the rumor train toward unknown health benefits or problems. 

For decades, the idea of counting calories appeared to be rational — calories in, calories out, right? While calorie-restricted diets can be safe when monitored, ensuring participants are getting appropriate nutrients through food choices, people can often get carried away with the level of restriction.

1,200 calories are the bare minimum for calorie intake, which is for female resting metabolic requirements. Dipping below this number is rarely advised, and when it is, it is with the strict supervision of a medical or dietary professional.

More often than not, diets of 1,200 calories are referred to as unsustainable. The benefits of such restrictive dieting often result in less than optimal results for those trying to lose weight, especially as it can motivate a vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting.

When beginning a diet, especially a calorie-focused diet, it is crucial to understand the warning signs of under-eating. You should correct course and reevaluate your calorie intake to avoid any recurring issues.

Irritability and Lethargy are Only the Beginning

You have likely heard the term “hangry” before, meaning hungry and angry. There is a legitimate psychological component to eating and food. People often associate food with joy, relationships, and other pleasurable events and feelings. By taking those foods away, your brain can react negatively, causing a rise in cortisol and other hormones contributing to irritability or testiness.

Beyond feeling on edge all the time, you need to remember that calories are the body’s primary source of energy for tissues and functions. If you are eating the bare minimum, your body will need to prioritize what systems access energy and how much. The restrictions result in feeling tired, with many tasks seeming more challenging and less appealing, even those tasks you enjoy.

Unfortunately, irritability and lethargy are only the beginning of your troubles if you continue to eat too few calories. Eating less can also lead to sleep and digestive problems.

Restful Nights Might Become a Thing of the Past

Blood sugar levels depend on a balanced diet. Eating fewer calories than necessary can prevent the liver from producing enough glycogen during sleep to stabilize blood sugar levels. 

When the liver doesn’t produce enough glycogen, the body must use gluconeogenesis to produce glucose. The process is possible only by releasing cortisol and adrenaline, and with enough of these hormones in your body, you might find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep during the night.

Digestive Problems Can Become a Permanent Diet Companion

A common symptom of consuming too few calories is persistent constipation. The problem often results from not consuming enough fiber. Fiber is essential to keep the digestive system moving along.

Dehydration is also a possibility of constipation. If the body does not have enough water in its system, it can not perform digestive tasks effectively, regardless of fiber levels. Unfortunately, many people struggle to differentiate between hunger and thirst, often confusing one for the other.

Consume Enough Calories Without Starving Yourself

Do not assume 1,200 calories is suitable for you. Talk to your doctor about calorie intake; they can offer a professional opinion based on gender, age, weight, and current health. Additionally, most fitness and nutrition experts agree that cutting your present daily calories by 200 to 300 calories per day combined with 30 minutes of exercise is enough to start a weight loss journey.

How many calories are healthy for you?

5 Ways To Simplify Your Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping is an essential activity, but there are right and wrong ways to accomplish it. Most people know that shopping with a plan and on a budget is the best strategy for making the most of your weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly grocery jaunts. Still, some people need specifics about how to plan for a successful trip. They need help to simplify the grocery buying process.

Family planners seem like grocery gurus. They create a plan and execute it on a schedule with few, if any, variants. To be a shopping master, shoppers need discipline and a commitment to five techniques.

1. Stick to the List

The worst thing anyone can do is go to a grocery store without a list. Entering a market without a plan will lead to impulse buys, depleting your budget.

Every experienced family planner knows the grocery list is the law. Write a list of all essentials and wants when at home, and once at the store, do not deviate from the list.

Taking a military approach to shopping should have several benefits, including speed. People can shave precious minutes off their trip when they stick to their grocery list and ignore everything else.

2. Plan Meals and Snacks

Meal planning helps curb wasteful spending habits. Many families ignore the practice or use bare-bones planning strategies, such as only planning dinners. By avoiding thorough meal planning, a family likely spends money on food, snacks, and meals that will go to waste.

Effective meal planning involves creating a detailed meal schedule that includes main meals and snacks. Food budgets can go a long way when a family sticks to the plan.

3. Buy in Bulk (When It Makes Sense)

Big box retailers and membership warehouses often sell bulk merchandise. People find bulk buying tempting because of the implied savings, but not every offering is a saving.

Also, sometimes buying in bulk makes little sense. For example, how quickly can a single person go through gallons of mayonnaise? Only buy bulk items when there is value; usually, avoid purchasing perishable items this way.

Bulk paper products or dry goods sometimes make sense. However, always check the cost per unit to understand how much of a deal the store offers.

4. Limit the Number of Stores and Trips

Too many people run all over the place to shop for groceries, always chasing the best deals. Sometimes, visiting multiple stores is worth it, but most of the time, it isn't.

It's common for an area to have four or more grocery chains. If shoppers want to simplify their shopping, they should select one or two chains and stick to them.

5. Use Coupons Whenever Possible

There is no reason to become obsessed with couponing, but coupons provide significant value, especially to the frugal shopper. The best way to maximize savings is to have a coupon system.

The best shoppers will look through circulars when they receive them. They clip any coupons of interest and put them in their purse, pocketbook, or grocery list notebook. As the coupons expire, they cycle them out for new ones.

Grocery shopping will not always be fun, but it doesn't have to be a nightmare. Shoppers can simplify the entire process by organizing a list, creating meal plans, limiting stores and using coupons.

These Are My 4 Favorite Milk Alternatives

Cow’s milk is rich in nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, magnesium and amino acids, or protein. If you're planning on switching to a milk alternative, you need to fill those nutritional needs. Which are the best milk substitutes?

1. Soy Milk: Super-Nutritious, Mild but Weird

Soy milk is a nutrient superfood, which makes it one of the best milk alternatives for your health. It has almost the same amount of protein that cow’s milk does, a filling 7 grams per cup. This protein contains all the essential amino acids that your body can’t make on its own, which is why vegetarians and vegans benefit a lot from drinking soy milk.

There’s only one tiny catch, at least for me: the taste. I’m not a huge fan of the flavor of soy milk or tofu (another high-protein food made from soy).

What I would recommend is to start yourself off eating soy yogurt. After you get used to the texture and flavor, mix soy milk with fresh fruit and enjoy a nutrient-packed morning smoothie.

2. Almond Milk: Thick, Creamy, and Delicious

Personally, I could drink almond milk all day long. It has a slightly sweet, nutty taste and an amazing texture. Imagine drinking a creamy glass of whole milk, but way better for your waistline.

This is my go-to option for recipes that call for milk, such as baked goods or creamy Italian dishes. I also love it with coffee because it’s like having a shot of amaretto and cream.

Any downsides? It's low in protein. So, while almond milk is an excellent replacement for cow’s milk flavor-wise and calorie-wise, it doesn’t fill your protein needs completely.

3. Coconut Milk: Sweet, Great for Weight Loss, But High in Fat?

If you haven’t tried coconut milk yet, trust me, go out and buy yourself a carton. This sweet treat will put a big smile on your face.

But is it healthy? Yes and no. This tropical drink gives you lots of vitamin D, vitamin B12 and other nutrients. But it also has the same amount of fat as whole milk.

The interesting thing is that some scientists think the type of fat in coconut milk and coconut oil can actually help you lose weight. These MCTs help your metabolism burn fat instead of storing it. They may also calm your appetite and improve your cholesterol levels.

4. Macadamia Milk: All-Around Amazing but Expensive

This rising superstar would be my favorite milk alternative … if it wasn’t so darned expensive in the stores near me. Macadamia milk has it all: great flavor, lots of protein, a smooth texture and few calories.

As long as you choose a fortified version, you’re getting magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium and vitamin B6. Plus, this creamy nut milk has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids too, which are amazing for heart health. Macadamia milk is low in carbs, making it ideal for keto dieters.

All in all, with half the fat of cow’s milk, one-third the calories and the same amount of protein, this nutty milk is a homerun for parents and kids. Just maybe not for your wallet.

The Best Alternative Milk for Your Family

Honestly, no one said you had to choose just one. Try a few kinds and settle on the ones that fit your lifestyle. It’s OK to use some for coffee, some for cooking, some for smoothies and some for drinking happily.

4 Natural Sweeteners That Are Healthier Than Sugar

A healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean cutting all sugar. Even medical experts recognize that there’s room for some sweetness in your daily routine. That said, too much sugar is bad for your heart, increases your risk of diabetes and adds quickly to your waistline. One tablespoon of refined sugar has 50 calories!

The Secret to Healthy Living With a Sweet Twist

One option to avoid empty calories is simply to lower the amount of added sugar you eat. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy, because many manufacturers add sugar to things you wouldn’t believe: spaghetti sauce, bread, bacon, ketchup, etc. Homemade meals are easier to keep low in sugar, though.

Another trick is replacing refined sugar with healthier alternatives that are naturally low in calories. You can’t go crazy with them, but you can have a sweeter life and lose weight at the same time.

The Healthiest Sugar Alternatives

If you think outside the box, it’s not as hard as you may think to reduce added sugars. These days, there are many natural sugar alternatives. Here are the best.

1. Fruit (Fresh or Frozen)

Ditch the sugar and choose these fruits instead the next time you want to sweeten smoothies or oatmeal. Opt for unsweetened cereal or natural yogurt and add fruit for sweetness. Try these delicious superstars:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Pineapple
  • Pears
  • Figs
  • Mangos
  • Cherries
  • Cantaloupe

Health professionals agree that natural sugars in fruit aren’t a problem for your health. You can enjoy them as much as you want. They provide a great source of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber, too. Frozen fruit is almost as rich in nutrients as fresh, so feel free to choose it if it’s less expensive or more convenient.

2. Applesauce (No Added Sugar)

Technically, applesauce is fruit, too, but you use it for sweetening different things. Fruit puree makes an excellent alternative to sugar for baked goods, adding both moisture and natural sweetness. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Cupcakes with strawberry puree
  • Banana bread with guava
  • Cheesecake with passion fruit puree
  • Pumpkin-apple coffee cake
  • Dark chocolate cake with raspberries
  • Carrot cake with pineapple puree
  • Real cherry pie
  • Strawberry-kiwi dessert pizza

3. Stevia

This natural sweetener comes from the leaves of a plant native to South America. Stevia doesn’t have any calories, and it doesn’t have the negative side effects of artificial sweeteners. If you’re worried about your wallet, you should know that a little goes a long way: Stevia is 450 times sweeter than sugar.

4. Monk Fruit Extract

Like stevia, monk fruit extract comes from leaves — in this case, from a Chinese plant. Monk fruit extract packs tons of sweetness into a zero-calorie package. It also doesn’t affect blood sugar, making it a good alternative for people who need to be careful with glucose levels.

A Balanced View of Sweet Treats

The key to good physical, emotional and mental health is balance. Sometimes, enjoying a slice of apple pie with family and friends is just what the doctor ordered for reducing stress. With the help of natural sugar alternatives, you can indulge your sweet tooth without feeling guilty.

Eat Dark Chocolate To Boost Memory and Improve Mental Health

Does anyone really need an excuse to eat more chocolate? It is among the most cherished sweet treats known to all humankind. However, if prescribing chocolate as an anti-inflammatory and anti-aging superfood means that the world can indulge in the melted goodness of chocolate, so be it.

While it might sound like a bunch of hype and half-concocted excuses, there are several studies that address the legitimacy of chocolate consumption and some fairly staggering health benefits. For example, when you consume the right kind of chocolate routinely, you can experience cardiovascular health, reduced stress, and improved cognitive function. The remainder of this blog will dissect the reasons for chocolate's seemingly magical abilities and dive deeper into the treat's relationship with the brain.

Reason for Health Benefits From Chocolate

The health benefits of chocolate come from the cacao seeds that make up part of the candy's recipe. To experience the most benefit from chocolate consumption, you should look for bars labeled 70% cacao. The beneficial compounds found in cacao are called phytochemicals.

The phytochemicals in cacao consist mainly of polyphenols and methylxanthines, which can be further broken down into flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, and theobromine. All of these chemicals and compounds contribute to the therapeutic effects, including:

  • Antioxidant intake
  • Blood vessel dilation
  • Reduction of insulin resistance
  • Regulation of body weight controlling genes
  • Inhibition of cancer growth
  • Prevention of blood clots
  • Anti-inflammation
  • Protection of nerve cells
  • Increased blood flow to the brain

Chocolate and Cognitive Function

The accumulation of flavonoids in the hippocampus, the learning and memory area of the brain, corresponds with an increase in blood flow, production of neurons, and the improved function of existing neurons. The flavonoids also protect neurons from free radicals and enhance neural connections.

A study in the medical journal, Hypertension, suggests the daily consumption of a chocolate beverage high in flavonoids is beneficial for elderly patients experiencing mild cognitive impairment. Other studies imply a single dose of dark chocolate can improve memory performance and cognitive function in healthy adults.

Chocolate and Mood

The compounds found in chocolate, specifically flavonoids and methylxanthines, contribute to chocolate's mood-enhancing effects. Several studies found that chocolate can improve mood. One study, focusing on the consumption of a daily dark chocolate drink with a high concentration of polyphenols, found that participants showed improvement in depression and anxiety conditions. Some evidence also suggests the routine consumption of chocolate can reduce symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Dark Chocolate Versus Milk Chocolate

While there is no denying that milk chocolate is delicious, it does not offer the same benefits as dark chocolate. A dark chocolate bar with a high percentage of cocoa, at least 70%, will have plenty of phytochemicals, contributing to the mood-boosting and brain-improving effects. However, chocolate should only be enjoyed in moderation. You should aim for only one to two ounces per day or roughly 30 to 60 grams.

Other Foods With Beneficial Flavonoids

Chocolate is not the only food with brain-benefitting flavanoids. Several fruits and vegetables also contain the compounds that contribute to cognitive function:

  • Kale
  • Parsley
  • Onions
  • Red Cabbage
  • Berries

You can also find flavonoids in red wine and certain teas. If you want to consume the healthiest diet for your brain, you might consider consulting with your primary doctor and a nutritionist.

Were you aware of the many benefit of chocolate, and if so, what do you find most surprising? 

Inspecting the Claims and Reality of Cleanse and Detox Diets

A cleanse diet, designed around the notion of your body needing help eliminating excess toxins, has grown in popularity exponentially over the last decade, despite having little scientific backing or merit. Celebrities, manufacturers, and self-proclaimed nutritionists have hopped aboard the cleansing and detoxifying train to riches. Unfortunately, those unsubstantiated claims of detoxing and cleansing needs can result in health issues.

In any other context, the idea of depriving your body of food or essential nutrients would appear illogical. While the severe caloric restrictions of these “fad” diets do contribute to rapid weight loss, the loss is not a symptom of eliminated toxins; it is merely a consequence of severe calorie deprivation. Yet, it is no longer fair to consider these diets fads because popularity continues to grow. Cleanses are now a trend. The question becomes, is there any relevance to cleanse diets, or are any results purely speculative hokum?

Toxins and Your Body

In reality, your body has several organs and systems dedicated to removing toxins and bacteria — the liver, kidneys, intestines, etc. The human body, in general, effectively eliminates problematic toxins and harmful chemicals without any necessary interference or aid.

Most cleanse and detox diets claim the body needs help because of increased contaminants in the atmosphere and food, especially through environmental crises like global warming. However, despite the claims, there is little, if any, rational or well-researched evidence or logic to support such claims.

On top of misleading marketing, you will find it challenging, if not impossible, to find any cleanse or detox explaining what toxins the diet eliminates. The producers of these products and services cannot make such claims because it is considered fraud without proof. Instead, most cleanse services state generalities about health and wellness. Manufacturers might even discuss the potential benefits of specific ingredients in juices or supplements. However, in nearly every case, the company falls short of making any direct or conclusive statements about toxins. 

Explaining the Positive Effects of Cleanses

Many people participate in cleanses, and some even do more than one cleanse per year. The drive or motivation is often based on the belief the diet makes them more focused or energetic. While an individual might feel healthier during a cleanse diet, the improvement is likely based on eliminating unhealthy foods and the increase of healthy options, like fruits and vegetables, not the cleanse.

Anyone who alters their diet to include more fruits and vegetables while eliminating refined sugars and processed meats are sure to feel some change. However, the difference is the result of healthier choices, not a specific cleanse or detox.

Risks of Cleanses

Despite the focus on health and longevity, several cleanses can result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies or dehydration. Still, several others can increase the potential risks of overdosing on diuretics, supplements, or laxatives. Because of the loopholes and lack of regulation in the supplement market, some labels might be inaccurate. While many might not see the risk of overdose on supplements or dietary products as a threat, it is potentially fatal, depending on the supplement.

There is a continued obsession with dieting, so much so that people now feel like health is reliant on the next new and improved fad. It is a constant and unwinnable game of whack-a-mole. In truth, all anyone needs to do is focus on consuming a healthy and balanced diet. If you do not know how or where to start, speak to a licensed nutritionist or primary care physician.

My Go-To Natural Sugar Substitutes

I may not have the body of a goddess, but I do like showing off some pleasant curves at the beach (just a little). One of the biggest things that has helped me burn way more calories, and that I know can help you, too, is avoiding refined sugar. Of course, ditching table sugar doesn’t mean giving up everything sweet. Try these natural sugar substitutes instead.

1. Fruit

My absolute favorite substitute for sugar is real fruit. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, apples, oranges, peaches and pineapples all have a great blend of tart and sweet that makes me smile.

Do you like smoothies for breakfast? You don’t need sugar. Just add a banana, some date paste or applesauce to the blender with the rest of your ingredients. You won’t notice the difference.

Eating fruit gives your body tons of antioxidants and enzymes. They protect your heart, balance blood sugar levels, give you more energy, fight inflammation, improve digestion and strengthen your immune system.

Why Not Try This?

Take a handful of raspberries, chop half a banana, and mix it with a serving of Greek yogurt when you're feeling hungry. The burst of protein and nutrients will energize you and tide you over until later. Real fruit, both fresh and frozen, has a lot of dietary fiber, so it calms the munchies like junk food never can.

2. Stevia

This natural sweetener comes from South America. Stevia is herbal, not artificial, so you don’t have to worry about any weird side effects (those terrible headaches) like with aspartame and saccharin.

The leaves of the stevia plant have been used as sweeteners for at least 500 years. Pressing the leaves provides an extract that is 200 times sweeter than sugar. But it has ZERO calories!

For tea or coffee, stevia is my go-to sweetener. You only need a few drops. For baking, go with stevia powder. Just remember to use less than half the amount you would with refined sugar because it’s so potent.

3. Honey, Pure Maple Syrup and Organic Molasses

Honey is a true superfood. It has special prebiotics that benefit your gut flora, plus lots of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins for your heart and eye health. Honey has been famous for its healing powers since the times of ancient Egypt!

Personally, I adore the taste of honey, which is why I usually prefer it over maple syrup or molasses. But all three of these thick liquids are good sugar substitutes with important nutrients. Of course, they’re also high in calories, so you have to be careful with how much you use if you want to lose weight.

I love to make oatmeal with rolled oats and drizzle a tablespoon of honey on top with a dash of milk. Instead of marinades with brown sugar, use organic molasses.

What About Monk Fruit Extract?

This exotic sweetener is natural, tasty and filled with nutrients. Monk fruit extract doesn’t have any calories, so it’s good for weight loss programs. Unfortunately, where I live, it’s also really expensive. If you can afford it, definitely try it!

Sugar Free Living Isn’t That Complicated

It’s OK to enjoy honey, stevia and fruit whenever you want during the week. To be honest, I find making sweet things for breakfast, like homemade muffins, granola or pancakes, is easier for me as a mom. For supper time, chicken (honey-lemon chicken anyone?) and pork recipes work great with honey instead of sugar. You don't need refined sugar.

Superfood-infused Sparkling Water: Hype or Legit

Health and wellness is a multi-billion dollar industry, which to some extent is encouraging. People are looking for ways to improve their physical and mental fitness more and more every year. Unfortunately, as a multi-billion dollar industry, businesses are often under immense pressure to create the new “it” product to meet corporate financial projections. Therefore, as a consumer, it is crucial to analyze the claims made by health products to ensure no one is getting duped.

As a cautious consumer, you likely already watch out for fads, like seasonal diet or detox trends. Many companies pushing these products do not care about the science or the long-term effects of implementing these fads. Despite the sometimes nasty and fraudulent dietary claims, one product has remained a consistent aid in the fight for better nutrition, especially in terms of hydration: sparkling water. 

Understanding the Popularity of Sparkling Water

Sparkling water has been around for decades, and its core marketing tactic is to present itself as a healthy alternative to other carbonated beverages like soda. The tactic appears to be working, and consumers seem more receptive now than ever before. Popular soda brands continue to see a 5% annual decline, while the fizzy low-to-no calorie beverage continues to gain traction.

Currently, sparkling water brands, such as Droplet, are pushing superfood-infused water. The brands are attempting to boost the effectiveness of their already popular vitamin, electrolyte, and mineral-infused drinks. However, as a savvy consumer, is there any reason to spend more money on these revamped beverages.

Superfood-Infused Water

Some sparkling water brands have started selling and marketing beverages made with ginger, passion fruit, reishi mushrooms, and several other so-called “superfoods.” The companies claim the infused water provides mental and physical health benefits but is there any truth to the claim.

As with most claims about superfoods, the research is a little thin and circumstantial. Several studies claim some ingredients can help treat specific conditions and disorders, like anxiety or fatigue. Still, these same studies do not speak to the efficacy of these ingredients as treatments.

It is necessary to point out that no sparkling water brand describes their drinks as “treatments” for anything. The marketing is careful to avoid liability issues. However, even if the drink does not work as a treatment, does it still provide any benefits from its superfood ingredients?

Many nutritional experts believe these infused drinks can provide some benefits. Obviously, if you want the most benefit from a superfood, it is best to consume that food. For example, instead of drinking a passion-fruit-infused beverage, eat the fruit. Attempting to use a drink as your primary source of fruits and vegetables or vitamins and minerals is a mistake.

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Should You Drink Superfood-Infused Sparkling Water

The decision of whether you should or shouldn’t drink a superfood-infused beverage is yours. Sparkling water is a better choice of drink than soda, and when infused with vitamins, minerals, and superfoods, it does stand to benefit your diet. However, do not get lost in the marketing hype. A healthy diet depends on balance, and a drink will probably never have the same health benefits as consuming actual food.

Have you tried superfood-infused sparkling water? If so, what did you think? If not, why not?