Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Yanking the Sweet Tooth

I was the last person I'd thought could change my sugar-lovin' ways. But two months ago, I decided to clean up my eating habits: I eliminated refined sugars and sodas (I drank diet, but still, lots of chemicals), started eating whole grain products and more vegetables, and started weighing and measuring portion sizes. It was really, really hard for the first couple of weeks, I felt really headachey and crummy. I think it helped that I timed the beginning during menstruation, when I'd be feeling all bloated and crummy anyhow. But now I feel great. (It didn't take two whole months to feel great either; I was feeling much better at the end of the month.)

Tips for staying away from sugar? Hard to say, everyone differs in their cravings. I went totally without added sweeteners for those couple of weeks, just to break myself of the habit. I did have a bite of baklava on July 4th, but have otherwise stayed "clean." Here's what helps me:
  • Enjoy your fresh fruit. I did not cut fruit from my diet when cutting the added sugar, because of its other benefits. I did limit to two well-timed portions per day, fit in with my diabetes food plan. A good snack for me: chopped apples in plain yogurt (Greek style has less carbs), with toasted wheat germ, milled flax seed, and cinnamon mixed in with it. If you can tolerate oranges or pineapple, those add a bit of extra juice. (My mom and I enjoyed pineapple & plain yogurt a lot, so it wasn't a new thing for me. But back then, I'd put Cracklin' Oat Bran cereal on top...good, but a bit too sweet for me now.)
  • Use artificial sweeteners, but not too much. I enjoy a sugar free Popsicle now and then, and when drinking tea, I sweeten with splenda or stevia. But I try to limit those to one per day. I was delighted to find that Peet's has a no-sugar-added mocha now. Yeah, baby! I was worried that they might've mixed up my order and given me the regular, it was so good. I had to chuckle a little when the barrista asked me if I wanted whipped cream on it.
  • Find a sugar-free flavored tea that has some natural sweetness to the flavor. I have always loved Good Earth original tea, and they now have an organic version of their original flavor (the original has artificial flavoring).
  • Make your own hot cocoa. I used to be a total chocolate fiend. Every now & then I make my own hot cocoa with unsweetened cocoa powder (use good quality cocoa!) and with stevia sweetener. (Splenda works well, too.) I know mochas and no-sugar-added hot cocoa aren't exactly low carb choices due to the milk, but they're good if you're not on a total carb fast and are accounted for in your food plan.

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