For a long time I wanted to write about my struggle with sugar, but I had to research the subject properly and collect as much information as possible. Now, I feel that I can share what I learned in the process, all of the information was collected by me and it is my personal opinion.
I used to eat in ways that weren’t healthy, it was mainly by the form of Nutella and chocolate bars, and it became an addiction: Nutella on toast, Nutella in a pitta, biscuits covered in Nutella and Nutella with a spoon!!
I couldn’t go to sleep without my fix of chocolate or wake up in the morning to face the world without a Nutella stuffed pita… and in between had lots of cravings and an endless need for the good old Nutella. I never felt full or satisfied after whatever size meal I had without devouring, you guessed another spoonful of Nutella (or the jar!). Eventually I realised how bad my addiction was when I left everything one night at 11 pm to drive to the supermarket as the jar was empty.
So I decided to put an end to that behaviour of mine and take back the control of the sugar over my life. I start learning about the subject, sticking my nose in every book on the subject (another addiction of mine…), and read any article on the Internet. I discussed with my GP (that found that my insulin level was very high and I’m nearly developing diabetes) and spoke to a nutritionist and dietician to make sure I was doing the right thing.
In that process, I learnt that we all weigh 11 kilos more today than 25 years ago! We are eating on average 375 calories more per day and that’s all after we reduced our total fat consumption as for years we have been told that fat is the enemy and need to consume a low fat diet.
SO where are all these extra calories coming from if it’s not from the fat? Why is obesity a major epidemic today? And type 2 diabetics is rising dramatically? It is not the fat! It’s from the excessive amount of carbohydrates in our diet.
Sugar dominates our diet and you can find it in nearly every food and drink: bread, coke, juices, ketchup, salad dressing, tins of tomatoes, baked beans, crisps, dried fruits, etc.
In the past we used to consume our sugars naturally from fruits and vegetables, then it started to increase. In the UK, we consume over 500gr of sugar a day, and that creates a major health problem. Not only does sugar consumption cause the obvious problems like tooth decay, but sugar is also linked to cancer, heart disease, impaired brain function, depression and anxiety.
The bottom line is that sugar is not our friend! And we have to eliminate it from our diet as much as possible. This is not easy, but making sure we eat the right food, reading the labels and preparing ahead of time will make it easier.
A couple of years ago I followed a very strict sugar detox and I must say it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I went cold turkey and cut out all sugars from my diet which included fruits. After three days I started adding the good sugars back one at a time. The first week or so I had serious withdrawal symptoms that included: headaches, dizziness until I was nearly sick, my mood dipped, I had anger bursts, I had cravings that were so difficult to overcome. I was irritable and extremely tired. But eventually I got over the hump and I remember one day, having my afternoon snack of humus and red pepper sticks and I got caught in such a surprise when the pepper was sooo sweet, I realised that real food has so much more flavour when you eat sugar free.
During this time I had to keep reminding myself why I was doing it. First I was watching my kilograms melt away, especially around my middle area and the love handles. My sugar cravings stopped and my mood was over the moon, my high energy levels were back and my skin couldn’t look better!
I also start looking into healthier sugar alternatives and how to use them. There are lots of alternatives, some have more calories than the other, some have after-taste but zero calories and some are just full of fructose which is what we are trying to eliminate. They also have to have some kind of nutritional or health benefits and not just empty calories.
A herb native to central and South America and it is about 30 times sweeter than sugar but has NO calories and almost no glycaemic index which is making it suitable for diabetics as well as for weight loss.
It has got a bitter after-taste that last for quite a long time, but apparently you can find some blends today that have a better taste (I’ll let you know the make as soon as I find one). I tried Truvia for baking and it had an after-taste.
Is a naturally occurring sugar from the Birch tree and also found in fibrous fruits and vegetables like beets, berries and corn.
It helps prevent bacteria from causing plaque to stick to our teeth and can help prevent tooth decay. It costs much more then sugar but it is much healthier alternative and has 9 calories per teaspoon, 40% less then sugar. It also had a low glycaemic index but as sweet as sugar.
You can substitute it in your recipes for half the amount of the sugar called for in the recipe.
Coconut sugar is nutritious and has a low glycaemic index, it tastes like brown sugar but a bit richer.
Raw Honey and Maple Syrup:
It is unrefined and unprocessed. It has many vitamins and minerals and helps with sore throats and cough.
Honey has more calories than sugar but sweeter so you can use less. When substituting honey for sugar use ½ cup honey per cup of sugar and reduce the amount of liquid by about ¼ cup for every cup of sugar.
So today in preparation for next week RESET plan I made healthy sweet muffins to keep in the freezer and have as breakfast and they are really scrumptious.
Breakfast healthy muffins
1/2 cup Xylitol or truvia /1/4 cup Stevia (if you don’t mind the after taste)
1/4 cup tahini
11/2 cups Almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinager
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup fine oats bran
1 grated apple
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
Topping: blueberries, pecan nuts, coconut flakes, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, chia seeds etc.
- whisk the eggs with the xylitol.
- add all the other ingredients and mix just to blend, rest for 30 minutes.
- preheat oven to 160C.
- place muffins cups in a muffin tray and fill with 1/4 cup of the mixture
- top with you favorite topping or leave without the topping.
- bake for 20-25 minutes.
- enjoy 2 as your breakfast
Also as it Tu Bishvat tomorrow, the Jewish festival for celebrating the birthday of the trees, I made with my kids out own home made dried fruits, traditionally eaten on that festival. We used lots of different fruits and the results are overwhelmingly good and soooo easy! That goes on my yogurt for breakfast tomorrow.
How to dry your own fruits in your oven
- Use any fruit you fancy: apples, plums, apricots, mango, banana, figs,strawberries, cranberries etc.
- Slice the fruit and prepare them
3. Soak the fruits in lemon / lime juice and water for 10 minutes or more, that will keep fruit looking pretty and minimize discoloration.
4. Place directly on the oven net or on a tray with a baking paper.
5. Bake on 70C, for 4-6 hours.
Please let me know your personal experience with reducing sugar in your diet and if you would like to know some more about the subject.
Have a fabulous sugar free week and I hope I didn’t bore you to sleep.
Lots of love
Two Healthy Cookies