Cutting down on refined sugar

I’ve been wanting to talk about this decision for a long time now. I’m not the person to try all these silly diets around the internet. 5-2? Low-carb, high-fat? Paleo? Not for me. I just don’t like to put restrictions on myself, because I know that I can’t keep up with them in the long run. Or worse, I may end up eating only things that were not allowed after the diet is over. However, these diets are very popular, especially in Norway, and this inspired me a lot when, last year, I decided to change my eating habits for good and eat more healthy for the rest of my life. You see, I didn’t want to follow any particular diet on the Internet too closely, but cutting down on refined sugar, eating less bread and pasta and eating more fruits and vegetables made sense to me. And, all the healthy recipes, noted as Paleo-friendly or LCHF or whatever else, circulating the Internet follow these rules and make it easy for me to find substitutions for my everyday meals. Too easy. Sugar-free and white-flour free brownies with only natural sweeteners? I can give that a try. No refined sugar chocolate spread? Yes, please! So even though I haven’t completely cut off white flour and pasta, I’ve been quite successfully avoiding refined (and most of the time unrefined also) sugar for almost a year and a half now.

chocolate-meringue-cakeChocolate cake with meringue

chocolate-brie-sandwichRoasted strawberry, brie and chocolate grilled cheese

I set the rules at the beginning and these are quite simple:

  • YES to all natural sugar in fruits, like bananas and apples.
  • YES to Greek honey.
  • YES to unrefined sugar in moderation (if I really want to make a recipe that calls for eat).
  • YES to dark chocolate in moderation (even though it has some sugar).
  • NO to artificial sweeteners, like sukrin or xylitol etc.
  • NO to refined-sugar.
  • NO to syrups, nectars, whatever is now trending…

It took me a month for my body to stop craving sugar and few more months to stop dreaming of gooey chocolate cakes, but since the initial six months were over, I can’t imagine myself going back to eating sugar. It took some time, but over time, my taste buds adjusted. Now, I am better at resisting a sugar-loaded dessert. One tip that has helped me a lot is keeping healthy snacks with me so that I don’t get too hungry and eat sugar instead. Also, I can really taste the sweetness in fruit and I don’t need an excessive amount of honey to make my desserts sweet enough. I’ve tried eating “normal” cakes and ice-cream, but it seems like 2-3 bites are overwhelmingly enough to satisfy me. Another thing I noticed is that my energy levels are mostly stable through the day (probably because my blood sugar levels are stable through the day too). Lastly, I realized that at first I was worried and nervous (maybe even a bit obsessed) when I was eating out or visiting friends that offered me sweets. After sticking to it for over a year, I am now way more comfortable with my choice and know that cheating every once in a while is perfectly fine, as long as I keep up with it in the everyday.

black-forest-cheesecakeBlack Forest Cheesecake

Do you follow a special diet? Anyone else who is avoiding sugar?

ps. I also cut down on caffeine earlier this year. I promise I haven’t stopped eating anything else. Oh, wait! Unless you want to know about my newly found kale and lactose intolerance. No? You don’t? It’s OK, I get it…

ps2. The photos are an ode to what I’ve given up. More sugary recipes on my Pinterest dessert board. Cutting down on refined sugar doesn’t mean that I will never make them, just that they won’t be on my weekly treat list. They’re perfect however for a birthday or a celebration.

ps3. Another interesting post about life without sugar.