Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sorry Valentine, No Sugar this Year..

Valentine's Day brings to mind one of our 2015 New Year's Resolutions to cut out sugar.  

Cutting sugar out of the diet can be difficult for many people because of the sugar cravings one inevitably experiences. When removing sugar, one may experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, increased hunger, cravings, irritability, and moodiness. 
Removing sugar is more than just cutting out desert. It is a true dietary change. Many products that don't even taste sweet contain sugar like many condiments (see Huffington Post article on "Bad Condiments: 15 Unhealthy Condiments like Ketchup, BBQ Sauce and Mayonnaise). There is also the need to reduce carbohydrates - an abundance can be for the body like eating sugar - but this doesn't have to be an extreme no carb diet.  
From the Paleo Mom Blog, there are some ways to help overcome your sugar addiction - 
1. Don’t keep sweets in the house. Whatever your greatest weakness is, don’t have it where you can reach it in the midst of a strong craving.

2. Don’t use artificial (or natural!) sweeteners. They fool the body into thinking it’s about to get something sweet, so your insulin spikes, which makes your blood sugar plummet, which makes you crave sugar even more.

3. Use 85% or higher dark chocolate to ease the cravings. It doesn't actually contain much sugar and once your body has adjusted to an overall lower carbohydrate level, it will taste quite sweet.

4. Try not to substitute eat. This means that you should try not to eat an entire jar of almond butter because what you really want is ice cream. If you absolutely need a substitute, try and find something harmless. I drink a lot of herbal teas when I’m craving sweets, especially ginger tea and Trader Joe’s Ruby Red Chai (a chai-spiced rooibos tea).

5. Eat high (good) fat foods. I am especially fond of coconut with or between meals to deal with cravings. But check out tip #4 before you open up that bag of coconut flakes.

6. Eat a wide variety of healthy (paleo) foods, including lots of vegetables (the whole rainbow) and some organ meats. Many cravings reflect a lack of some nutrient. One of the best ways to avoid cravings is to consume everything your body needs.

7. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that just once won’t hurt. If you decide to have one treat (on your birthday for example), know that you will have to work extra hard to avoid sweets over the next few days.

8. Remind yourself about how hard it was to beat the sugar habit and how much better you feel for it. Just taking a moment to remember how much work it took to get here just might be enough to keep you straight. Feeling good is no small thing.

So, if your romantic traditions include Valentine Candy and rich deserts, try Pinterest, your favorite recipe sites and look for substitutes to an all out sugar feast - 

  1. Fruit kebabs
  2. A square or two of dark chocolate
  3. Home-made fruit & yogurt popsicles
  4. Fruit Smoothies
  5. Unsweetened Greek yogurt topped with fruits
  6. Low sugar frozen yogurt/Sorbet
  7. Light chocolate milk
  8. Pretzels dipped in melted dark chocolate
  9. Blended frozen bananas
  10. Baked apple stuffed with nuts & oats
  11. Frozen grapes
  12. Healthy Muffins
  13. Light banana bread
  14. Hot cocoa made with low-fat milk
  15. Flavoured tea
  16. Popcorn mixed with bits of dark chocolate, nuts, dried fruit
  17. Chocolate flavoured rice cakes
  18. Light jello (here's the link to Homemade Jello)