God knows I need a little something sweet every day. Don’t you?
A few years ago, when I realised I was suffering from chronic candida, I decided to do the strict anti-candida diet. This was very effective for my condition, but was ABSOLUTELY NO FUN AT ALL.
No sugars were allowed, not even fruit! I had to learn which products contained sugar and avoid them. You don’t realise how much you miss the taste of something sweet, until you haven’t had anything sweet for a while.
I was utterly miserable at first.
I ended up having to make some very spartan, sugarless cookies (with whole wheat flour of course). My thinking was that because they LOOKED like, and were the same shape as a sweet treat; my brain would be fooled into thinking it WAS having a treat, and so I wouldn’t feel deprived.
And it actually worked! Clearly my brain is stupid! It got me through the months I did the diet for though, so – maybe not so much.
Nowadays, I am really careful about sugar. Since I’ve eaten so much less of it, my pesky restless leg syndrome has disappeared, my moods are balanced, and my energy is through the roof.
I am so used to feeling great every day, and don’t really want to compromise this, or get any old problems back if I can help it.
That said, I’m not anal about it – that does no-one any good, but pretty much the only sugar I have now is in some dark chocolate at weekends, and on holiday I’ll always try a vegan ice-cream if we come upon a place that makes it. This may not even contain sugar, but I’ll overlook it if it does.
Oh, and I have one or two soy chai’s a week, because I just have to, that’s all!
But – I do eat ‘sweet’ things every day.
I’ve learned it’s important to never feel deprived, and to be able to eat sweet things whenever we want. Luckily for us, there are lots of ways to do this that don’t involve those devilish white crystals!
Well, duh! Alicia Silverstone (author of The Kind Diet) refers to fruit as ‘God’s candy’ – and she’s not wrong! You can’t beat a bowl of fresh, in season strawberries, or some papaya with lime, or half a cantaloupe for dessert, or as part of breakfast.
2. Dried or fresh fruit as a topping
I always sprinkle raisins on top of my muesli. You really don’t need sugar. If there is a raisin or two in every bite, you’ll find it plenty sweet enough. You can sprinkle them on porridge, or on your soy or coconut yoghurt. Goji berries or chopped dried figs are also great. Don’t forget to use fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries also when you can, though you still may need a few bits of dried fruit, ‘cos it’s just sweeter.
3. Juice-sweetened jam/jelly
PB&J (peanut butter and jam) on toast or on a rice cracker makes an absolute perfect sweet snack. Find a flavour jam you like, and ensure it is sweetened with fruit juices, not aspartame- type nasties. You can also put a dollop in some natural soy or coconut yoghurt and stir – it tastes so much better than yoghurt flavoured by the manufacturer! St Dalfour and Clearspring in the UK do excellent sugar free jams.
4. Agave nectar
If you’ve never tried it, it’s a sweet syrup made from the agave plant, and has a fairly neutral taste, and can be used in place of sugar in most things.
There has been controversy over agave. There was an explosion of anti-agave articles a few years back, but when I looked into this, I found that it was just really one article reposted and rehashed ad-infinitum,
I’m not an agave expert (who is?) but I truly don’t believe it has the same negative effects as sugar. It has a lower glycemic index, and you only have to compare how you feel when you’ve had some agave, to when you’ve had some sugar. It really doesn’t feel like it spikes your blood as much.
And it’s strange that the damning article came out around the time that agave was really taking off and becoming a household name. Sugar is BIIIIIIG business, and big business doesn’t like competition – just saying…
All this said, I would go easy with it; it is still not a health product. Try and buy raw agave if you can. It tastes the same, but some of the enzymes are preserved as it’s produced at a lower temperature than regular agave.
It’s great for baking. You can find lots of cake recipes that use agave instead of sugar. I bake a banana cake every week that uses agave instead of sugar, and it works great. In fact it tastes better. It’s not as cloying as sugar would taste.
I also use it sometimes if I feel like some hot, sweet soy/almond milk.
Just don’t go crazy with it, is all.
5. Maple syrup
Oh, maple syrup, how I love thee, but why art thou so bloody expensive?
How yummy is maple syrup? I could literally drink it out of the bottle.
And it’s natural, from a tree for goodness sakes; does it get any better than that?
Because it contains minerals, maple syrup is a better solution, health-wise, than agave, though it may not be suitable for everything as it has a more distinct flavour. It’s great for trickling on popcorn, drinks, baking, and pouring over cereals and plant-based yoghurts.
It’s my personal favourite sweetener. It can be pretty pricey, but I find a supermarket bottle is good enough for general use.
Again, it’s still not a health food, so don’t scarf it, but a little splash of it here and there brings a whole lot of joy!
6. Brown rice syrup
Made with whole grain rice, brown rice syrup is a bit less in-your-face sweet than the other two. It’s the sweetener that’s the gentlest on your metabolism, but it still does the job. It has a thicker consistency than the other syrups, but it’s still great for pouring on stuff. It just might go a bit slower. Hehe.
This may sound a little ‘woo,’ but you can actually feel that it’s a really balanced sweetener that’s not jolting your blood as you eat it. If you can, try and use this one the most often.
A natural sugar from the stevia plant, I’ll admit, I’ve only tried it once in some stevia sweetened chocolate chips. It wasn’t hideous, but I found it did have a bit of an ‘aspartame ‘y’ aftertaste. It may be good to help transition if you’re trying to give up diet soda drinks. It’s not a health food, but in small amounts is considered harmless.
Experiment with the ‘syrups,’ see what works best for you. We’ve had no sugar in our house for years now – with all this choice, it’s just not needed.