Whenever I hear someone say they don’t have a sweet tooth and prefer savory or spicy flavors, I have to admit I feel a wave of jealousy deep within me. For me, sweets have not only been a very pronounced preference throughout my life, but a compulsion that has left me feeling powerless many times.
Here’s something about me not everyone knows: I never gain weight. As I was growing up, I ate all my favorite desserts like there was no tomorrow because it never showed, but the line between having a voracious appetite and a full-blown sugar addiction grew thinner with each passing year.
The day came when I decided to open a home cupcake business. Of course! What else would a sugar addict dream of doing all day long? I tried several recipes each day, looking for the perfect one, and even when the result was far from perfect, I ate whatever came out of the oven. Why put anything sweet to waste? I was eating scary doses of sugar, even for my highly stretched standards, and it didn’t take long for my body to notice.
When I started getting regular panic attacks, generalized anxiety, agoraphobia, and constant feelings of electricity going up and down my spine, I finally sat down to do some research. What was causing all this craziness? As it turned out, in great part,sugar was. Consuming too much (or even a little) sugar can cause a lot of stress in the body. Feeling like a total nut case, as I did, is a very likely result. Here are three techniques that helped me control my addiction tremendously:
Make sure your pantry and fridge are filled with healthy sweet alternatives for when the cravings hit you. Some options include fresh fruit, frozen fruit, dried fruit, sugar free chocolate, dates, trail mixes, granola sweetened with honey or maple syrup, tiger nuts, and nut butters. You can also create your own sugar-free desserts very easily. Some of my favorites are baked apples with nuts, raisins, and coconut yogurt, chia puddings made with coconut or almond milk and sweetened with a little vanilla extract, or mixing dates with unsweetened chocolate and nut butters (this is my healthy “Snickers” bar). If you are well stocked, your cravings won’t catch you unguarded and you won’t fall for that double portion of chocolate chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Also, when we are told we can’t eat a certain food, all we can think about all day is that food. Allowing yourself to have healthier sweets in moderation will take away that anxiety.
Have a balanced breakfast. The key here is to eat something that will keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day so you have fewer cravings. Protein helps control hunger and cravings, so try having an oatmeal, quinoa, or amaranth porridge with nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and almond milk; eggs on organic corn tortillas with a side of veggies; or a smoothie with fruits, veggies, hemp milk, and an avocado on the side—all these are great ways to start the day.
Eat as many healthy, warm, nourishing, foods as you can. If you have a green juice and a large bowl of brown rice with veggies before you leave your house and you feel full and satisfied, the chances that you will overeat at your corner pastry shop are smaller than if you go out on an empty stomach. On the other hand, if you have lunch in a rush, and eat a cold meal that is not very tasty or nutritious…What’s the result? Even if you’re full, you will probably want to overdo it with the sweets later in the afternoon, because you won’t feel nourished and satisfied physically or emotionally. So make sure you don’t skip meals and try your best to eat healthy meals that you truly enjoy.