Monday, 1 July 2013

There's always an alternative

When I was told last year that I wouldn't be able to eat sugar, or anything the body turns to sugar, due to a health challenge I panicked!! My first thought was "I can't do it". I grew up surrounded by family members who baked, and cooked the most fabulous desserts, puddings, biscuits, cakes, and treats. To say this has left me with a sweet tooth is an understatement. I had to have a major chat with myself and it became a mind over matter challenge.

Sugar in one form or another is in virtually ALL processed foods, making it very difficult to avoid and very easy to overdose without realising. Most people 'drip feed' sugar into their bodies through regular consumption of the likes of ketchup, mayonnaise, crisps, sweets, chocolate, crackers, crisp breads, bread, pasta sauces, puddings, ice cream, cereal bars, fizzy drinks or roasted nuts...

For the first week of my 'challenge' I went cold turkey. Nothing whatsoever that was even vaguely sweet passed my lips . I did it, but my enjoyment of food decreased massively. I needed something sweet! I've always loved baking and experimenting with food, and as a personal trainer and holistic lifestyle coach , have always tried to eat healthily most of the time (80/20 rule) but did have sugar 'binges' sometimes.

But my health became way more important than eating sugar and sugary products. I've heard it said before that people have a real mindset change when challenged with an illness and its possible to overcome almost anything. I also believe that there is always an alternative route - so I started to experiment with food alternatives that would satisfy my sweet tooth but enhance my health rather than take away from it.

I played with fruits, vegetables, gluten free oats, Xylitol instead of refined white sugar, sprouted grain flours instead of refined white flour (awesome - the body treats them like vegetables), and Raw honey instead of processed honey and other sweet syrupy substances. I'm still playing and experimenting and I'm loving it so much I've written a mini E recipe book, and am already on to books two and three with the aim to publish a hard backed book next year. 

They say everything happens for a reason, and I've found new direction and what I now define as my 'calling', my reason for being. Sugar is so detrimental to health it should come with a warning. I believe it will some day soon. In the meantime my aim is to alert people to its dangers, to offer alternatives to satisfy the mind and body, and generally get on my soap box as much as possible on this fascinatingly important subject. We're never going to get away from the fact that we are born with a naturally sweet tooth, so why not work with it using good, sustainable energy foods, instead of empty calorie, nutrition free rubbish that will harm rather than heal.

Here are a few ideas for substitutions if you're struggling : 

Eat gluten free porridge or Oaty pancakes for breakfast rather than cereals full of sugar, salt and wheat,

Have snacks made up of fruit and nuts/seeds instead of cereal bars.

Bake with Xylitol , RAW honey and Stevia instead of white/brown refined sugar.

Eat home made popcorn instead of crisps,organic if possible. Great fibre! 

Use coconut oil or extra Virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil.

Buy jam with no added sugar (or nasty sweeteners) - or make your own using Xylitol. So easy!!

Make your own puddings and desserts. Chocolate mousse can be made so easily with Avacado as the base! And you would never know!

Eat very dark chocolate, preferably organic and raw rather than the processed varieties. 

These are just a handful. There are so many other ways. Check me out on Facebook Sweet Enough for lots of ideas. 

In summary, it's very possible to obtain sweetness in food without succumbing to processed foods. It takes a little planning  and effort to start with , but you'll soon get the hang of it. So much so that you'll   wonder why you didn't try it a long time ago. 

Have a great healthy day.

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