I’ve been off sugar for a week now – not the naturally occurring stuff found in bananas but the added stuff found in, oh say chocolate bars – chocolate bars that you’ve bought because you rationalize the fact that if they’re DARK chocolate then they’re a health food and if you only eat one piece of this health food then it barely even registers. Problem is you (ok, I) don’t only eat one piece. I start with one piece and then when it’s gone, I have one more piece and so on and so on until what began as one not-too-bad-for-you piece of chocolate, very quickly spirals into one half a chocolate bar – gone. Demolished. Delicious.
So with my recent complete absence of willpower, I decided it was time for a monastic plunge into abstinence – not forever, just a short time-out for my sweet tooth.
It really is amazing how quickly my mouth recalibrated and started to taste sugar in all the things I never thought were sweet before. In some cases, I would simply experience something that was mildly sweet as very sweet. But in other cases, even when there was no natural sugar at all in the food, I would still taste it. I made some crepes, with a touch of applesauce on top and I swear I tasted maple syrup. I know it was simply my mind making the association with maple syrup on crepes, but it is astonishing how much influence the mind had over the mouth.
I’m on week two now and it’s actually been pretty easy. Here are a few things that helped ease the “loss … if you’re thinking of giving it a try, these might help:
- Use Spices: Toss some vanilla powder or extract in yogurt, and use ginger slices on sautéed or steamed veggies (they’ll actually make the veggies taste sweet)Snack on
- Seaweed “paper”: My local Whole Foods as well as Trader Joe’s sell them in small foil packs. They are super addictive, very low calorie and totally sugar-free. It’s nothing more than seaweed, olive oil and salt, but it’s like food from the mermaids. (And it’s high in Vitamin A!)
- Add slices of orange, lemon or cucumbers to a pitcher of water: They give it so much flavor you won’t be tempted to drink juice or soda.
- Use a pinch of Stevia: It’s a pure, all-natural herb, but I’m not a fan of the slight licorice after-taste, so I use it in very few foods, but my coffee demands some sweetness so I add a tiny bit of it to coffee.
- Go Bananas: I let them get super ripe, puree them, freeze small portions in ice cube trays and then use them to sweeten yogurt before adding less sweet fruit.
- Toss in texture: I eat a lot of yogurt and I tend to miss the sugar less (usually in the form of honey) if there is a lot of texture – I think it distracts my mouth and makes it forget the lack of sugar. I usually add ground flax seeds or chopped almonds, in addition to loads of chopped fruit.
Any tips you might have for those of trying to lead the not-so-sweet life?
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