AHHH! My sweet tooth is getting the best of me!

Posted on February 25, 2013. Filed under: diet, recipes, wellness | Tags: , , , |

It has been just over a week since I gave up sugar (the plan is for 40 days). Previously, I would have sugar multiple times per day! Whoops…

Enter: detox. The first few days were not bad. I was really feeling proud of myself and my ability to say no when offered sweets. But, then came my monthy visitor and on top of that, I was feeling stressed with moving to a new city and starting a new job. Boy, did I want some CHOCOLATE. I wanted it bad.

We’ve all had those days, right? The type of day that causes you to plop on the couch at the end of the night with a spoon in one hand and a big bowl (or carton) of icecream with peanut butter and chocolate in the other. I wanted that. No, I NEEDED that. 

Or did I? I had conditioned my brain to expect sweets anytime I felt stressed. But in reality, that instant rush of sugar and happiness quickly leaves and I am left with both the stress that started it all and guilt on top of that.

I am not saying that sugar should never be consumed. I am all for having cake or dessert during parties or holidays, or whenever really. But the key is moderation and I was lacking it. I had the unfortunate habit of turning to sugar for happiness when I should have called up a friend to talk , took a few deep breaths, or went for a brisk walk outside. 

With this challenge, I did not succumb to the cravings and my mind telling me I needed sugar.  Instead, I found some healthy alternatives to obtain that “sweetness”. With combinations of cocoa powder, peanut butter, ripe bananas, pumpkin puree, stevia, cinnamon, and pumpkin spice, I have been able to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Here are some ideas for you to enjoy if you, like me, are struggling with dropping the sugar habit.

1. steamed milk + cocoa powder + cinnamon and/or stevia

2. hot tea/coffee + milk + cinnamon

3. smashed banana + cocoa powder

4. plain yogurt + stevia + cocoa powder

5. banana + peanut butter

6. plain yogurt + cocoa + stevia + peanut butter + banana, blended, and frozen= healthy “ice cream”

5. Healthy dessert recipes: I have only tried one so far, Pumpkin Pie Pumpkin Muffins, from www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com. I simply substituted additional applesauce where sugar was called for and they were delicious! I plan on experimenting with more!

To be quite honest, I have really enjoyed being creative with these ingredients and trying to find new “sweets”. And they are much healthier; filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants that help better the body rather than tearing it down like excessive amounts of sugar does.

For example, cocoa is filled with antioxidants and has the ability to improve blood flow and reduces insulin resistance. Bananas with their 21 grams of natural sugar,  provide a good dose of fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C and are a great pre-workout snack. Cinnamon regulates blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol, and has anti-fungal properties. Pumpkin puree is filled with fiber (5 grams/servings) and Vitamins A, C, and E needed for healthy skin, eyes, hair as well as used to fight off diseases.

With so much natural and healthy alternatives to refined white sugar and corn syrup, I have opened my eyes (and tastebuds) to new, delicious foods.

If you have taken the No Sugar Challenge or are trying to consume less sugar in general, what do make or do to curb the sweet tooth?

Be vigorous,

Angela

 

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No sugar challenge

Posted on February 17, 2013. Filed under: diet, health, wellness | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Sugar: that delectibly, incredibly addictive white stuff. Why am I so infatuated with it and how did I become so addicted especially when I know better?!

I love sugar. I do. It is difficult to deny the sweet stuff and the rush of energy and good feeling it gives  within minutes of popping something sugary in my mouth.  But with that rush also comes the knowing that the sugar will not effectively do anything to better my body and will in fact, hurt it.

Many of us know that consuming excess sugar is bad for us, but why? What does it do to  our bodies?

Here are the facts:

–  Excess sugar is directly related to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes,  high blood pressure, and increased risk of stroke

– Excess sugar causes an increase in the bad cholesterol, LDL.  As the liver works to filter all the excess sugar, it becomes overloaded. The liver then converts the extra sugar into LDL, aka fat, that circulates in the blood. This type of clogs arteries, causing heart disease, hypertension, and increased risk of stroke.

– Increased sugar is linked to increased risk of cancer. Approximately 1/3 of common cancers such as breast and  colon cancer need sugar to grow. If a person has a cancerous tumor, they will be essentially “feeding” this cancer by ingesting sugar because instead of going to supply the organs and muscles, it goes straight to the tumors.

– Sugar is addictive. Sugar activates the same regions in the brain as cocaine does. We experience pleasure from ingesting sugar by the increased release of dopamine (the good feeling chemical) that occurs. Over time, our bodies become sort of immune to this response and our brain requires more sugar to release dopamine. We have to eat more sugar to get that same good feeling. It causes an addictive cycle.

Check out any YouTube videos with Dr. Lustig, who has started a campaign against the overconsumption of sugar in the American diet.

It is decided; it is time I break-up with sugar. I will deny myself any cookies, cake, candy, sugar in coffee, honey on my peanut butter sandwich or in my tea, syrup, processed foods sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (salad dressings, peanut butter, yogurt, pop), refined white bread, pasta and the like.

My no sugar challenge is fullfilling my Lenten obligation, thus it will last 40 days. I have successfully made it four days without wanting to attack someone. Perhaps after these forty days, I will have a healthy relationship with sugar, not be addicted, and I can enjoy the sweet stuff in moderation–the way in which it was supposed to be enjoyed.

Are you addicted to sugar? Please join with me and begin your own no sugar challenge. Whether it is just a week, a few months, or whatever you decide, it is a step towards bettering our mind and bodies.

Be vigorous,

Angela

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