I’ve met quite a few anti-sugar purists who reject the idea of eating low-sugar, low-carb sweets entirely. Their concern is that any type of sweetener, or sweet item, that doesn’t affect blood sugar will nevertheless trigger sugar cravings and thus fuel sugar addiction. For them, total abstinence is the only way to go.

I can appreciate this all-or-nothing approach, especially if it’s the only thing that works for you. More broadly, for those who treat sugar in the same way alcohol is treated by Alcoholics Anonymous, complete abstinence is a key to “recovery.” Advocates for total abstinence point to research showing that non-sugar sweeteners partially activate reward pathways and so fool us into overeating in make us crave more sweetness and/or real sugar later on. Some of have told me that, as a result, they feel Goodbuy Sugar is misguided in its attempts to provide alternatives.

I can see their point and respect their view, but disagree. True, in my own experience since cutting sugar and carb intake drastically, there are times when having a treat makes me want to have more (though it became hard to eat a lot of sugar because the body has adjusted and it made me feel sick). However, overall, I see the ability to indulge in alternatives as critical to my motivation and ability to stay on a low-sugar, low-carb diet for the long term.

Extending the analogy to alcohol a bit, would it be objectionable for a recovering alcoholic to drink alcohol-free beer? Afterall, people with gluten intolerance drink gluten-free beer. True, they may not have been addicted to gluten, but gluten was harmful to their bodies and they found a way to enjoy a substitute. To me, if someone is drinking a beer that does not raise their blood alcohol level (or, in the case of sweets, does not affect insulin levels, etc.) and in fact helps them to stay on their low- to no-alcohol diet, then this is a gift. Over time, a drinker, like a sweet eater will be able to tell if consuming of non-alcoholic beer is helping or hurting the cause of either quitting or reducing (depending on their goal) their in take of real beer.

Some may require quitting all forms of sweets to kick their sugar habit, while for others, healthy substitutions may help them reach their health goals. I for one was far more restrictive with sugar in my diet until I got my blood sugar to a normal level, at which point I felt I could indulge a bit more, but still at a far lower level than when I was prediabetic. Eating low-carb sweets helped me get and stay there. You’ve no doubt heard the expression, the “perfect is the enemy of the good.” For all the difficulties we all face changing a lifetime of eating habits, flexibility can help us achieve moderation. In this, Goodbuy is meant to be your friend!