My advice on how to enjoy sweetness sans the sugar.

In Chinese dietary therapy, foods, beverages, herbs and spices are classified according to one of five flavours: spicy, salty, sour, bitter and sweet. The sweet flavour corresponds to the Earth element and governs digestion. Therapeutically, it is very nourishing and grounding.

Reducing sugar doesn’t mean cutting out the sweet flavour from your palate. In fact, ridding your system of refined sugar usually improves your appreciation for the subtleties of a sweet base flavour in foods.

Some foods classified as sweet contain naturally occurring sugar (fruit, honey, sweet potato, carrot, beetroot, capsicum, rice and grains) and should be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.

There are also those foods, herbs, and spices that are classified as sweet but contain no sugar, or too little to count. Examples include: cinnamon, cloves, vanilla bean, fresh basil, thyme, mint, ginger, fennel seeds and nut butters. Increase these and enjoy how much sweeter they begin to taste as you wean yourself off refined sugar products.

Avoid the temptation to substitute with sugar alternatives including those based on aspartame (Splenda, Equal); Agave syrup which is usually highly processed; even Stevia, which is a natural sweetener, but can still feed the body’s desire for high intensity sweetness.

The withdrawals and cravings for refined sugar will be worth it for the extra energy, better sleep and better moods you’ll experience. And of course, there’s the enjoyment of eating a bowl of brown rice with sweet potato, green veggies, sesame seeds and a poached egg, and marveling at how sweet it tastes.