I've been keeping a secret from you. (No, I'm not pregnant. LOL) I've been living sugar free for a couple of weeks now. Even as I type those words, I can hardly believe it. After all, I'm a chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookie, mint chocolate chip ice cream loving kind of girl. I have mad love and appreciation for sugar. If it weren't for sugar, I wouldn't be able to make all of the sugary sweet treats for my baking business. I use so much sugar every week that my son actually nicknamed me the "sugar dealer" of our town.
Being surrounded by cookies, cupcakes and brownies every single day was never something that I considered to be a hinderance. I complain about the fact that I smell like buttercream at the end of the day but there are far worse smells. I still believe that I've got the very best job in the world. The only problem is that it's turned me into a serious sugar addict. Being surrounded by sugar is a great place to be until you realize that you can't live without it.
Being unable to finish a meal (including breakfast) without a dessert, having intense cravings for sweets and experiencing a serious sugar crash every afternoon was a wake up call for me to be more mindful of the amount of sugar that I was consuming on a daily basis. When I started to journal my food, I realized that I was eating a whole lot more sugar than I ever realized. A cookie here and a bite of buttercream there seemed pretty harmless until I added up all of those "little" bites that I was consuming throughout the day.
Sugar is so pervasive in my life that eliminating it completely seemed almost impossible. Living sugar free means something different for everyone. For me, going sugar free meant eliminated as much refined sugar from my diet as I possibly could. I also swapped out white breads for bread and snacks made exclusively of whole wheat flour. I did allow myself a small amount of natural sweeteners like honey, molasses, maple syrup and stevia. (I'm only human after all.) I also swapped out white potatoes with sweet potatoes and limited myself to one Tablespoon of ketchup with my baked sweet potato fries. (That was a HUGE sacrifice.) I had to educate myself about the hidden sugars in foods like yogurt, salad dressings and milk alternatives. It's worth noting that I also limited my dairy intake at the same time - for entirely different reasons. I started drinking and baking with milk alternatives like almond and coconut milk and eating soy yogurt.
I'll be the first to admit that it wasn't always easy to avoid sugar and my family will attest to the fact that I wasn't always pleasant to be around when I was living sugar free. The first couple of days were the worst and then the cravings and afternoon sugar crashes started to magically disappear. As I got more comfortable eating sugar free, I also found more ways to satisfy my sweet tooth with things like with fresh fruit. Did you know that fresh fruit tastes even better when you haven't eaten refined sugar for a few weeks? Still struggling with leaving the dinner table without a little sweet treat, I had to come up with creative ways to make my fruit look more like dessert. Let's just say that a bowl of strawberry whip after dinner, was a lifesaver.
Slice strawberries and freeze on a baking sheet.
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Scoop into a plastic bag and freeze 10 minutes.
Cut a corner of the bag and squeeze into a bowl to serve.
I don't want to make blanket statements about nutrition because let's face it - I'm not here to start a nutrition war. What's best for me, may not be best for everyone else. I have no idea how long I will be able to embrace this sugar free living but I can tell you that I am feeling better than I did when I was eating refined sugar. I feel great and I'm not experiencing the sugar cravings or crashes that I did last month.
I'm still giving myself some grace for those important events that come up and absolutely MUST be celebrated with a small slice of high quality, real deal, piece of rich, decadent chocolate cake covered in creamy fudge frosting. I'm not going to feel guilty about indulging in an occasional treat because to be honest - it takes a lot less dessert to satisfy me now. My taste buds are more sensitive to sugar since I've become more sugar aware.
I'm on the search for more sugar free treats so if you have a tried and true favorite - send the recipe my way. I'd love to try it. Thanks in advance.
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