Apparently, it’s already been a month since I started my doctor-mandated quest to purge sugar (and dairy) from my diet. To my utter shock, it’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be.
I think part of that is because I’ve spent the last ten years adjusting to life with food allergies and intolerances. Part is because this is the thing that might actually allow me to start eating stuff I never thought I’d get to eat again, like chickpeas and pineapple. The biggest part, I think, is that I went cold turkey, which seems to have short-circuited the dreaded cravings.
Weird, I know.
I’m getting thought cravings, usually when I remember another favourite food that is now permanently off the menu:
- Bacon (it’s dipped in sugar before smoking)
- Indigo’s divine chocolate salted caramels
- Everything made by Starbucks
but after a brief moment to mourn, I just go about my day. And my body’s adapting even faster – no anger, no mood swings, no uncontrollable snacking, and (I think) a sharper mind.
This is in dramatic contrast to what happened when I reduced sugar for a gall-bladder cleanse, but in that case, I was still eating sugary breakfast cereal. Starting the day with sugar and then trying not to eat anymore threw my whole system off kilter – I was grumpy and snappy and distracted by thoughts of chocolate the entire time. Apparently all that science about the impact of sugar on your blood and hormones is true! (Shocker, right?)
I’m definitely spending more time in the kitchen on weekends, making scratch versions of things I used to buy. To keep from feeling totally overwhelmed, I’ve been going at it in order of priority. Breakfast first out of necessity, then chocolate, because there has to be some kind of joy in life. Now I’m working on bread and salad dressing.
Here are some things I’ve discovered so far – may they be of help to you, as well!
- Homemade granola is really easy to make, and there are tons of recipes online. Use a deep roasting pan – trying to turn the mix on a cookie sheet leads to crunchy floors.
- There are (at least) three commercial brands offering sugar-free, dairy-free chocolate: Valor, Chocolate Stella, and Kayer. Kayer offers flavours, and the mint and raspberry are completely divine.
- This recipe for chocolate bark is simple and delicious. I used pumpkin seeds instead of nuts and it came out a lot like the Bark Thins brand (which we were so addicted to, we’d stockpiled 10 bags that had to be returned to Costco when I got the news). The first time I made it, the maple syrup separated out from the coconut oil. I added 1/4 tsp xanthan gum the second time, and everything stayed mixed. Pro-tip: If you’re using coarse salt, sprinkle it on top to avoid getting a surprise mouthful.
- I made a great fruit salad dressing by mixing olive oil, balsalmic, and 100% pomegranate juice. Shake it in a jar – the whisk was a total fail.
- The body uses the same enzyme to break down aspartame and sucralose (Splenda) that it uses for sugar, so diet soda was off the menu. I don’t drink a lot of soda (just as a carrier for the occasional adult beverage), but there is a brand that is free of sugar and artificial sweeteners – Zevia. It doesn’t taste exactly like Coke Zero, but it’s surprisingly close!
- My copy of The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook, which I’ve been using for years, turns out to have a full-page listing of recipes that are sucrose-free.
All of which is leaving me very grateful, because this no sugar thing might turn out to be a lot less painful and deprived than I expected.
Do you have a favourite sugar-free recipe? Have you ever tried to reduce sugar or cut it out entirely? What helped you get through the transition? Share in the comments!