There is no doubt in my mind that one of the biggest health zappers around is sugar. More and more research points out that sugar is toxic for our body and if nothing else, we can at least all agree that we don’t NEED sugar!
However, we know it can be highly addictive, quite delicious and a go-to frienemy when we need a little energy boost. I say “frienemy” because, even though sugar might give you an instant energy boost by kicking up your blood sugar levels, what goes up must come down. Very soon you’ll be feeling even more tired and exhausted than you did in the first place and a very vicious cycle has begun.
Quitting sugar can be tough. It takes some preparation and a few handy tricks up your sleeve for when those cravings set in. Start by including some sweet flavor in all of your meals. This way your body is already satisfied and wont instantly crave dessert right after you’ve eaten.
Typical sugar culprits to avoid are cereals, granola, sweetened iced-teas and pre-packaged fruit smoothies (in addition to all those cookies, muffins, candy jars and frappe drinks off course). For breakfast opt for homemade oatmeal or muesli instead of cereals and overly sweet granola. Skip the coffee run and make your own tea – you can use a little xylitol or stevia to sweeten if you want.
Thankfully not all sweet tasting foods are bad for you. There are plenty of healthy foods that have a satisfying sweet and delicious taste while still in their whole, natural state.
We don’t need to add any more sugar or artificial sweeteners to get satisfied!
Go with what’s fresh and in season in your local area. If you don’t live in the tropics, you don’t need tropical fruit either… I have yet to see a banana tree in New York! So, for the most part, go with what’s around you and then splurge on a coconut or some mange now and then.
Root vegetables and Squashes
Root vegetables like carrots, beets and tubers (yams and sweet potato) are deliciously sweet. And now as we move into fall, look for all the sweet and creamy pumpkins and squashes. Roast a whole tray of sweet vegetables, bake sweet potato fries or make a creamy, sweet soup.
Frozen or fresh berries, a splash of almond milk and a spoon of nut butter is all it takes to make a delicious, creamy and decadent ice-cream alternative. No cream or sugar needed!
Applesauce and cinnamon
Craving some apple pie…Try spreading some almond butter and apple sauce on a brown rice cake, sprinkling some cinnamon top and indulge.
Brown rice mochi
Mochi is both warm, chewy and naturally sweet and satisfies any pastry or cinnabon craving… Bake up a few squares, dip it in some nut butter and sea salt and go for it. (I like the raisin-cinnamon version)
Raw dark chocolate
Many raw chocolate brands now use coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey to sweet their chocolates. Read the labels well and go for a really dark version (80% or more.) You can also try making your own and use some coconut sugar to lightly sweeten!
Dried fruit are very concentrated in fruit sugar and should only eaten with caution. It is hard to eat more than 2 or 3 regular apricots, but so easy to down a whole bag of the dried kind! Still, small amounts are totally fine. Sprinkle some dried fruit chunks in your morning porridge or try dates instead of sugar to sweeten desserts.
Whole grains (the longer you chew the sweeter the taste!)
Including some good whole grains in your diet is a good way to fight off sugar hunger later. Because of the fiber in whole grains the carbohydrates are slowly released into our blood stream providing a slow and steady stream of energy and we’ll avoid the dreaded sugar rollercoaster. Make sure to chew your grains really well, as the breakdown of carbohydrates in our body actually starts in the mouth. The longer you chew that spoon of quinoa, the sweeter it tastes.
Fermented foods – sauerkraut, kombucha etc.
Not only does fermented foods help you digest the sugar you may be eating it can it even help fight the sweet craving from happening in the first place. Make sure to get a dose daily and if you’ve given in and are having some sugar, go ahead and have some fermented food (i.e. sauerkraut or kefir.) The micro-flora (probiotics) in these foods lives on sugar!
Dehydration can often manifest in the body as hunger or cravings. Before even reaching for a snack at all, try having a drink! And if you get bored of good ol’ plain water, try some nice flavored herbal tea! Teas with Indian spices, chai flavor, Mayan Spice etc. are naturally rich and sweet and truly satisfying.
Photo Credit: Patryce Bak