No sugar, no problem

I have a sweet tooth. An insane, insatiable sweet tooth. Give me a cookie and I’m putty in your hands. While pregnant with Monkey, I kept putting off my gestational diabetes screening test because I was convinced that I’d given myself diabetes through the over-consumption of Christmas cookies. (Yes, I know that’s not how it works. The pregnant, hormonal, emotional eater didn’t see reason on the matter. I did not have gestational diabetes.)

Articles about sugar are everywhere. They have titles like “Death by sugar” and “Sweet poison.” They say that sugar is bad. It’s addictive. It’s worse than fat, worse than salt. It’s pretty much the worst. For a while, every time I read one of these articles, a tiny voice inside me would whisper, “Give it up.” And then a louder voice would say, “Make cookies.” Guess which one I listened to?

And then, at the beginning of November, in the throes of the post-Halloween candy coma, I decided to do it. Stop eating sugar for a while. I was curious about how it would feel, and I knew it would be good for me.

The pros:

  • have more energy;
  • improve overall health for self and family;
  • discover hidden and unnecessary sources of sugar in everyday foods;
  • make room in diet for new foods;
  • lose some baby weight, thus avoiding the need to buy an entire new work wardrobe for when my maternity leave is over in March.

The cons:

  • no more cookies/ice cream/sweet delicious treats.

I took the plunge. Well, in the spectrum of sugar-free eating, I really only dipped my toe in the pool. Some people give up all carbs and naturally occurring sugars as well, but I’m not going that far. I eat plenty of fruit, and while carbs have been restricted because of added sugar in some of them, I’m still eating things like pasta and rice.

I didn’t drag the rest of the family with me, but because I’m the main maker of meals and buyer of groceries, their sugar intake has been cut down a little too. (Side note – I was shocked at the amount of sugar in the yogurt Bean was eating – 21 grams in a 1/2 cup! I’ve switched to one that has 13 grams in a 1/2 cup, and I mix it with plain Greek yogurt, and he hasn’t seemed to notice. The next step is plain yogurt with pureed fruit, but so far I’ve been too lazy to actually puree the fruit.)

But because life just isn’t complete without a little sweetness now and then, I’ve been experimenting with recipes that only use fruit or dried fruit for sweetness. I was skeptical. But wow, have I found some winners.

No sugar

In a desperate, ravenous moment while shopping last week, I discovered Larabars. The peanut butter flavoured bar that I ate was good, and it had only two ingredients: peanuts and dates. What? I could make that! So I did some Googling and found Chocolate Covered Katie’s page of homemade Larabar recipes. A trip to the grocery store and about 10 minutes in the kitchen, and I was sold. Better than the store-bought ones, these things are fudgy, sweet, delicious, and dangerously easy to make. I’ve made peanut butter-chocolate and chocolate-almond, and I’m hooked. Next up will be oatmeal-raisin. (I have to remind myself not to inhale them, as even though it’s natural sugar, it’s still sugar and calories.)

That’s fudgy bars and cookies down. What about ice cream? While I had the food processor out, I remembered The Kitchn’s frozen banana ice cream that I’ve been meaning to try forever. So I did it. And it is amazing. Banana on its own isn’t really my thing, so I added peanut butter and chocolate, because peanut butter and chocolate is the combination of happiness. So good.

Sugar free me isn’t forever. For example, tomorrow is my husband’s birthday, and I will make a delicious, sugar-filled cake and also eat a piece of said delicious, sugar-filled cake. And come Christmas time, there will be cookies. Oh, there will be cookies. But hopefully I’ll have eliminated all of the hidden sugars in my diet, controlled my cravings for sugar (this is working already), and made sugary treats a once-in-a-while thing.

I can't quit you