When it comes to food, it is sugar that is my true nemesis. I can steer clear of fatty and salty foods very easily, but the sweet stuff is what gets me every time. White, refined sugar is now deemed a major culprit in the battle against being overweight and some studies have found it has the same addictive qualities as cocaine. An addiction food companies try to lure you into way before you will ever know what making good choices about food actually is or means. In my on going battle and as a reminder to myself, I thought it would be a good idea to make a round up of my favorite foods to use when I’m trying to get that sweet kick, while not eating any white, refined sugar.
Oh, the irony of this picture says exactly how I feel on a daily basis.
The foods I’ll be listing below would all fall in the category: easy to grab and no preparation needed. I like having something on hand that is sweet, but still as palatable as a bar of chocolate. So this will not go into baking or making your own snacks. I have several recipes up for refined sugar free snacks. Please check out the food category in the widget bar on the right to find those.
The reason why I’m not going into things that need to be prepared, is because for something to really be a contender with sugary goodness, is to have it be as easy to eat as something you pick up on the go. Of course you can go sugar free completely, but I find that I can never keep that up for two long. Two weeks tops is what I have achieved so far in the past and then I get the tendency to scavenge the local chocolate deli.
So when it comes to sugar my main philosophy that I try to live by is: everything in moderation. Now these past few weeks I completely threw that mantra out of the window and I am back at square one. So once my vacation this week is over, come Monday, I will go for the rigorous approach again in order to get myself into the habit of eating less sugar again. And by rigorous I mean: prevent myself from the ability to BUY anything sugary sweet. Which means I will be keeping all means of payment at home, as I tend to have my weak moments when I get on the train home. Having no debit card on me, nor any money whatsoever is a effective, be it quite drastic, way of limiting my sugar intake. Here are the foods I will be having instead.
Ultimate guilty pleasure?!
1.) Shredded coconut
I love adding shredded coconut to porridge or yoghurt. Not only does it add some fiber, but it also adds a subtle hint of sweetness. Also a good feature to add to baked goods. A nice way to forgo any added sugar in your breakfast: a good start of the day.
2.) Dried fruit
Dates, figs, raisins and/ or cranberries: all make for some great late afternoon snacks for the train home. My favorites are figs and dates as you only need a few to satisfy that sweet tooth. I always get the ones with the least amount of sugar added. Many dried fruits will have added sugars, but since they are perfectly sweet of their own accord, taking that trip to the specialty store to get the good stuff is definitely worth it.
3.) Fresh fruit
Getting fresh fruit is a no brainer of course. Apples, bananas and kiwi fruits are year round favorites and with summer approaching quickly there will be many more options available. I particularly love berries (all types really!) and peaches best. Last year I also discovered papaya, so I will sure be purchasing some of that come summer time to make some fruit salads or to chuck into a smoothie.
Don’t forget that vegetables can also be sweet. Carrots, beetroot and red bell pepper in particular are sweet as are tomatoes. I always keep a selection on hand and start my day with some beetroot juice. I mostly use fresh veggies as an in between snack when I go to work and I find it works as well as taking a sugary snack that is marketed as ‘healthy’.
5.) Other sweeteners
If you are in dire need of some sugar, but you still don’t want to use the ‘real thing’ then there are plenty of alternatives around. My favorites are honey and coconut sugar and my latest ‘discovery’ is maple syrup. I like the latter especially for baking (it’s sweet but not too sweet and it doesn’t alter the flavor of your recipe). Honey and coconut sugar I use mostly as condiments for pancakes, and I find that nothing beats yoghurt with honey and some walnuts for breakfast. The sweeteners I avoid are stevia and agave syrup. I read bad things about both of them (stevia is supposedly not sold in its pure and healthy form and agave syrup is supposedly worse than sugar) and so I decided to steer clear of them.
How do you keep yourself from overloading on sugar?