Friday, 27 February 2015

Stevia- the reason for my skepticism

Happy Saturday everyone! Who's excited for the weekend? This girl!
And boy, do I have a post planned for you today!
Topical, debatable and will probably remain that way even after I've blurted out a full post of wisdom, because that's the way of the world!
If you've been reading this riveting blog for a while now you may have learned that I do not eat sugar. But that's a lie in itself. Check out a typical snack of mine:
That's quite a bit of sugar right there in that pic. Around 20g even.
What I mean when I say I've stopped eating sugar, is I've stopped eating the white processed stuff shown in the above pic.
Why is that? Because I don't need it.

Our bodies need sugars to function- to provide energy, to be stored as fuel etc. Without it we would cease to function.
However our bodies only need a certain amount of sugar to function properly and excess can be detrimental to our healths. We know this. Scientific studies have proved this. And yet there is still so much confusion.

I choose to get my sugar intake from fresh fruits and veggies. I do not eat table sugar or cookies with cups of sugar, or jelly lollies, or white chocolate  and yes, the list goes on. What we must remember though, is sugar is sugar, no matter where it's hidden. I am still eating sugar and it holds the same effect in the body as ingesting a teaspoon of sugar would, however I choose to eat the tablespoon of sugar along with another tablespoon of fiber and vitamins and minerals.

But sugar is sugar, no matter what the form.

This is a very simplified view of sugar though. Table sugar v fruit. It's not that simple to decide right and wrong. Fruit wins because of the added benefits above the sugar, but what happens when we introduce the other game changers? Brown sugar, raw sugar, pure maple syrup, agave nectar and the most popular it would seem, stevia.

Now, brown sugars and molasses and nectars are all types of sugar as well and are simply less refined than table sugar, which means they create less of a spike to your blood sugar levels when ingested. But they are still sugars.

Stevia on the other hand is an interesting one. Stevia is from a plant. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar and contains zero calories. It must be the answer to all of our problems right? My mum came to me with that exact same question when she was weighing up whether to switch over to the popular sweetener alternative and my response was simply, 'It sounds too good to be true.' And I believe it is.

Those who focus on weight loss and body fat percentages and food to burn more calories would worship this wonder sweetener, hailing it in all it's glory for allowing them to indulge without indulging. I, on the other hand, focus on nutrition, on worshiping (for better use of a word) our own bodies and fueling them with the most natural and least processed foods available. We are natural creations, we should eat natural foods.

So when I researched more about stevia I was less and less impressed by what it had to offer. Stevia- in it's pure form, may well be a wonder food, but the powdered white stuff we find on our supermarket shelves is a totally different story. First of all I was curious as to why it took so long to be approved as a product and what else they must be hiding from the typical consumer.

Then I found this statement from Dr Alan Barclay, of Diabetes Australia that answered my question to a T:
The powder "is a highly refined extract, blended with sugar alcohol and... bulked up with maltodextrin [a refined starch that breaks down into glucose]," he says. "To get it table-top sweet, it's bulked out with other carbohydrates which are calorific."

We do not eat the herb stevia (which genuinely does have zero calories) in it's pure form. Stevia is a lot less natural as lead to believe and unfortunately has taken the world by storm as the new wonder food.
 Of course make sure you do your own research on the matter if you choose to eat stevia/ steer clear of it, this is just my opinion and I always say that there is never an absolute answer for the perfect diet. My opinion is stevia needs a lot more research thrown into it to determine whether or not this powdered miracle is really just a powdered poison, until then, I'm steering clear and that is my opinion alone.

What about you?
Do you use stevia?
Do you prefer to use other sweeteners?
Ever feel like the 'next best thing!' isn't always the best thing?

That's it for today folks! I hope everyone has a great day! Bye! :D


  1. I don't eat stevia for two reasons; the first because I react really badly to it and secondly because I don't trust it. Once upon a time, scientists thought things like aspartame were safe but now we know otherwise. Stevia is only a newcomer in the food industry and I feel like we need more time to work out what it does to our bodies before going crazy on it (though people are already doing that and stevia is already in SO many foods!)

    I use maple syrup, coconut sugar or honey in baking when needed which, whilst still sugar, are less processed and I always reduce the sugar content in my recipes compared to others anyway. I'm all about balance though, so I do eat Icecream or regular sugar when I feel like it - but that may be once a week or a couple of times a month, not everyday

  2. Kristy,
    You should write a post about this too- your comment was so well written and exactly what I was trying to say! I definitely don't think sugar is the number one bad guy in our diets causing everyone to gain weight, it's the combination of a whole bunch of stuff (like sedentary lifestyles etc.) and so occasional treats are necessary. Unfortunately I feel quite sick eating too much sugar and love my fruit too much to give it up for a cookie or something.

    Again, thanks so much for your well thought out and meaningful comment, I appreciate it!
    Steph 2 chef xx


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