Byline: Lana Shay
Brownies, cupcakes, tiramisu, and caramel macchiato, oh my! We are all too familiar with these sweet, sweet treats that tantalize the taste buds. What comes to mind when you hear the word sugar? Do you have visions of your favorite dessert as your mouth waters? Or are you the one who declines when the dessert menu is offered after a meal? It’s undeniable that when we consume sugar, we feel that rush of bliss when our craving is satisfied.
Only a few years ago, my husband Joe and I would go on frequent late night missions for Newman-O’s (the Oreo alternative) and soy milk. What is it about milk and cookies that is so enticing?! On an average weekday we’d be working diligently from home, and having a productive and inspired day. Dinner was generally simple and consisted of brightly colored veggies and plant-based protein. We’d end our meal feeling satisfied, yet we’d finish the dishes and the craving would erupt! One of us would volunteer to make a quick trip to the local grocery store to get the sugar fix. I recall literally feeling an uncontrollable pull to the grocery store. It was as if the day would not, could not, go on without the cookies. Our minds were fixated on the sweet tooth mission.
Have you ever experienced the uncontrollable urge to get your sugar fix?
Why couldn’t we deny our after dinner cookie craving? Like anything, it wasn’t impossible to escape the sugar craving. However, research suggests that refined sugar is highly addictive, and some studies reveal that it is more addictive than cocaine. It acts on the reward signals in the brain, which leads to addiction in the same way narcotics do. Considering this, it’s no wonder that we would find ourselves racing to the store for the cookies after dinner.
In a 2012 article published in the journal Nature, it was stated that sugar is a toxic substance and should be regulated like tobacco and alcohol! This may seem extreme, yet the truth is that the chemical-intensive process to create sugar results in a product with no benefit for the human body. It provides only empty calories and no nutritional value. Over-consumption of refined sugar is not only addictive, it has been linked to many physical issues and can be detrimental to overall health. Weight gain is one inevitable result of excess sugar consumption. What is excess? Well, I believe it’s important to note how you feel, both physically and mentally after a dose of sugar, whether heavy or miniscule.
If the cookie craving that Joe and I experienced is familiar to you, you’re probably wondering what to do now, right? First, don’t worry one bit about that cookie you ate the other day. You’re certainly not doomed, and there are solutions.
Different Types of Sugar
Before considering alternatives to satisfy your sweet tooth, it’s important to identify the sugar in your food. Sweet comes in many forms-maybe you’ll recognize a few:
- Agave Nectar
- Barley Malt Syrup
- Beet Sugar
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Brown Sugar
- Cane Crystals (or, even better, “cane juice crystals”)
- Cane Sugar
- Coconut Sugar, or Coconut Palm Sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
- Dehydrated Cane Juice
- Evaporated Cane Juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Maple syrup
- Palm Sugar
- Raw sugar
- Rice Syrup
- Sorghum or sorghum syrup
- Turbinado Sugar
These labels do not change the way your body processes the sugar. It’s all the same. Many unsuspecting packaged products include one of the disguises listed above. Our bodies truly do not need a heavy dose of sugar on a daily, or even weekly basis. Sugar from real food can satisfy that sweet craving while avoiding potentially harmful effects of the refined version.
You Don’t Need To Give Up Dessert
Just recently, I’ve found a new love for baking. It’s thrilling to share delicious sweet treats with friends and have them exclaim, there’s seriously NO sugar in this?! Dates are my first go-to. They are truly nature’s candy! There are many recipes that call for dates as the only sweetener. Stevia is another sweetener that is astonishing as it’s actually an herb! It certainly has a different flavor than your conventional sugar, but it can do the trick in a cookie recipe. Then there’s molasses or raw honey. Of course, indulging in these alternatives can resemble the effects of the refined version, but they are much better options by far! Even if you’re not into baking, it gets even simpler.
Nature provides us with the most satisfying form of sweetness. It’s the kind that also does a body good…fruit! Raisins, pineapples and bananas are all incredibly sweet and also provide nourishment for the body. All fruit contains sugar and is the best alternative to white sugar beyond a shadow of a doubt.
If you haven’t been the one to decline the dessert menu, you may be slightly more inclined with this information. The good news is, you can always ask for a bowl of fresh, juicy, satisfying fruit!
real food like this makes it easy to avoid sugar…nothing hiding in this meal!
A Challenge For You
Here’s your challenge: go for three days without any refined sugar! If you stick to real, unprocessed foods, it will be a breeze. The first day, have some fruit if you feel the urge to satisfy a craving. The second day, skip the fruit and the third day, do the same. If it’s easy for you after the third day, continue and take notice as to whether your cravings are decreasing. Make sure to leave a comment below to commit to this challenge, and make a public declaration. Extra points if you’re brave, and share a sweet tooth story (like my late night Newman-O’s run). Set yourself up for success and share this article with a friend, and jump on the three day challenge together!
Lana Shay is the Sensual Foodist. She believes in enjoying the food that ignites all of our senses. Sensual food (aka Real food) is the secret ingredient to a juicy love life and having the energy to live each day to it’s fullest! Lana is passionate about meeting french bulldogs, discovering new sugar-free desserts, traveling to exotic destinations, and teaching couples how to eat orgasmic and feel incredible.