Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How Sweet it is...

Confession: I have always had a serious sweet tooth. Growing up I told my parents my dream job was to open a candy store so I could eat candy all day.  I also used to hide my trick or treat candy under my bed and each night, after brushing me teeth and getting tucked-in, I would munch on candy. Needless to say, I have had many cavities filled.

In college, I was inspired by cake decorating and baking. I quickly bought dessert cook books and learned how to make cookies, brownies, cakes, and sweet breads to enjoy. I even learned how to make fondant and volunteered myself to decorate cakes for every birthday and sorority event.
*Cakes made by Moi*


In every other aspect of my diet, I use the moto “everything in moderation,” but when it comes to my love of sweets, I think “more is more.” I could easily replace a meal with chocolate and cookies, and to be honest I have been guilty of this many times.

Today after munching on fudge one of the nurses made, and some dove chocolates I walked home from clinic and thought to myself “I should stop my addiction to sweets.”
I quickly changed my mind, deciding that there was no way I could give up sweets because I enjoy them too much.

While continuing my walk, I dug deep down and realized I have never been a person to back away from a challenge. With that decided, I challenged myself to be sweets free for 50 days. No cookies, cupcakes or candy… Oh my!

For my last sweet: I stopped at Orange Leaf for some FroYo. Feeling ready to ease myself off sugar, I opted for the sugar-free flavors and some fresh fruit on top.


My Yummy FroYo
Sugar Addiction:
Recent studies have shown that there may be such a thing as sugar addiction, and that having a sugar dependency may release “feel good hormones” in your brain. Some of the symptoms of sugar addiction include: craving sugars and eating more sweets than you intend.  The rush your body gets from a sweet is simple: sweet sugary foods are simple carbohydrates that spike your blood sugar.   Once the sugar high has hit, your body counter acts with insulin leading to a rapid drop in blood glucose. This roller-coaster of quick increase and decrease in blood sugars leaves a person (me) feeling tired, cranky and searching for more sugars.
These same sugars are in healthier foods such as fruits and veggies, but they do not cause as great of a spike in blood sugar because they have additional fiber and proteins to slow down the digestion process. 

Cutting back on Sweets:
A person can slowly ease off the sugar roller coaster by cutting back on one sweet food a week or switching from regular soda to diet soda.  Limiting sugar intake can retrain your brain to stop craving sugary foods and retrain your taste buds to stop enjoying such sweet foods. Healthy swaps to curve sweet cravings can help make changes in diet also, instead of reaching for my post-lunch dove chocolate I can reach for a handful of blueberries or a banana.  Be sure to check the food labels for frozen and canned fruits that are “no sugar added.” Increasing protein and fiber intake helps you stay fuller longer and decreases the sugar spikes in your blood leading to decreased sugar cravings. 

Artificial Sweeteners:
The reviews about artificial sweeteners are mixed. While they do not carry the calories that natural sugar has, they also do not help retrain the brain to stop craving the sweet taste.

Hidden Sugars:

Reading food labels can get confusing, and sugar can be hiding behind fancy names. Most common names for sugars include agave nectar, dextrose, glucose, sucrose and high fructose corn syrup.  If one of these words is listed as the first four food ingredients, the food is a sugary trap! 

Xo

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