After I’ve done elimination diet (you can read full post all about it here) I’ve found out that processed white sugar wreaks havoc on my body, especially when I eat a lot of it on a daily basis. My skin starts looking extremely dull and dehydrated, I get small irritation spots on my cheeks, develop sleep issues and fatigue, and gain water weight. Once I cut sugar out, I go back to normal within a week.
I won’t be talking about ‘avoiding’ or ‘cutting down’ on sugar and foods that are high in sugar – these ‘tips’ are frankly useless. ‘Stop drinking soda’ won’t help you – you know already that soda isn’t healthy. I’ll tell you my personal legit and practical strategies that really work for me and help me minimize sugar intake. As always, no bullsh*t here. Let’s start!
Before I begin, I’d like to reiterate that I’m not a medical professional and what I’ll discuss here are my personal strategies to regulate sugar intake. I’d like to discuss them because they might be helpful for you, however I encourage you to always focus on your health and your doctor’s recommendations. We all have different needs when it comes to nutrition and my best suggestion is that everyone should strive to be as healthy as possible.
I won’t go into facts about health risks associated with sugar consumption, but I’ll leave links to several reputable sources here if you’d like to read about them:
Dietary Salt Intake, Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption, and Obesity Risk
Sugar consumption, metabolic disease and obesity: The state of the controversy
The sweet danger of sugar
Eating too much added sugar increases the risk of dying with heart disease
Now I’m not here to tell you that I’m a perfect human being who’s got it all figured out and is always disciplined. To be honest, there’s not many things that I find more annoying than people bragging about their healthy lifestyles, putting a perfect facade on and pretending like they wake up every day with a smile on their face. I think that honesty should be the best policy when it comes to health and healthy lifestyle! If you’re trying to have a healthier lifestyle and diet, then more power to you and I’m wishing you all the inspiration to never give up!
In my experience, the less sugar I consume, the better my taste buds work. When I consume a lot of processed sugar, the level of ‘sweet’ is sky high and fruits stop tasting as sweet as they naturally are. The less white sugar I eat, the more I start feeling sweet taste in everything, from potatoes to fresh juice. As a result, candy bars or sodas start tasting sickeningly sweet. Processed foods contain a lot of sugar to cause that dopamine kick, besides sugar is highly addictive. So when I’m trying to reduce sugar intake, I’m basically fighting my own human nature, which isn’t an easy task.
Here are my best strategies to reduce and minimize sugar intake:
1.I cook my own desserts. I love cooking and especially baking. Let me tell you: once I’ve started making desserts myself, the store-bought stuff has gradually started tasting like artificial and bland sugar bombs. I make everything starting from oat cookies to classic tiramisu. I’ve accumulated a lot of great recipes that take anywhere from 30min (time to prepare dough+baking) to hours and hours (I’ve got a terrific recipe of spicy gingerbread ookies where the dough needs to rest at least 24h in the fridge before baking). I’ve already shared my simple white chocolate cookie recipe and a basic cupcake recipe – you’re welcome to check them out!
When I make my own desserts, I regulate the amount of sugar I add as well as the kind of sugar I add. Sometimes I add natural brown sugar when possible (it creates a lot of moisture during baking, which can prevent the dough from rising and/or creating the right texture, but it’s perfect for creating the fudgy decadent texture of brownies).
2.I make candy from dried fruits and nuts. The trick with store-bought candies is that they contain little to no fiber – that’s what’s making them so easy to eat in large quantities. Fruits, on the other hand, contain a lot of fiber, which is why it’s much more difficult to eat a lot of them at once – they are more filling. Of course, the dried fruits I use for my candies are unsweetened – they are already sweet enough. This is my simple recipe:
50g of each dried plums, dried apricots, dried figs, and dates
100g nuts of my choice – hazelnuts, walnuts, or cashew
unsweetened cocoa powder
several teaspoons of honey if you need more sweetness (I usually don’t add it)
I chop the fruits into very small pieces either manually or in a food processor, then add honey if you wish to. Form candies in any shape you want, putting a nut inside of each candy. You can chop nuts and mix them with dried fruits – it’s only up to you. Then I roll each candy in unsweetened cocoa powder so that they aren’t sticky.
These candies are very filling, tasty, and are perfect to have with a cup of coffee.
3.I substitute sweet food I have with coffee for cheese. I am used to drinking tea and coffee without sugar (I know it sounds hardcore, but I just like the taste of tea not white sugar). Coffee is, of course, too bitter to drink by itself, and I used to have at least one candy with every coffee. After a while I’ve noticed that I’ve had a bit too much chocolate with coffee, so I decided to substitute it with cheese. Some cheeses are sweet and nutty, which makes them absolutely perfect with coffee (e.g. Maasdam and Emmental). Now, this is all, of course, a question of taste and not everyone will like it, but if you’re also trying to cut back on sugar with coffee, I’d definitely recommend trying cheese. I’ve also found this curious article suggesting the kinds of cheese that pair well with coffee.
4.I add fiber to all my desserts. As I’ve mentioned above, fiber is healthy and helps make the food more filling. I add oat flakes and fruits to my cupcakes, peas and corn to my savory cheddar muffins, and whole-wheat flour. This helps make the desserts more nutritious and tasty as well as more filling. One chocolate muffin with a piece of banana inside offers more nutritional value than a simple chocolate muffin.
5.I have developed high stardards for food I eat. When you think about it, we are what we eat. Our body gets nutrients from the food we consume and the way my skin reacts to large amounts of sugar is a good indicator that sugar isn’t good quality material for my cells. So gradually I’ve changed my whole attitude to food. To me, chocolate made with palm oil as the main ingredient isn’t tasty – it’s cocoa butter that I expect from good chocolate. I don’t want exorbatant amounts of additives and preservatives in my food either because while not all of them are harmful, many of them are simply unnecessary.
As my attitude to food changed, I stopped craving many sugary food automatically. I’ve stopped buying candy bars, soda, and other sugar-packed foods – they just don’t seem good enough or appetizing to me anymore. I love a good home-made cinnamon toast or an expertly made crème brûlée in a café with a cup of espresso, but not a pack of Oreo cookies that taste like sugary sand. I don’t settle for less now and it has helped me cut the unnecessary sugar a great deal.
I hope that this post was informative to you in some way. The key idea that I had in mind while writing it is that health is of the utmost importance. The way companies add exorbatant amounts of sugar in processed foods clearly shows that our health is in our own hands only and we need to invest our best effort into staying as healthy as possible.
What is your attitude to sugar? Do you enjoy making desserts at home? I would absolutely love to know and look forward to reading and responding to your comments below 💕💕💕
See you in my next post,
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