A great thing about the chocolate hazelbnut spread recipe I posted the other day is that it tastes like dessert without having any refined sugar in it.
One of the biggest benefits I found from doing the Elimination Diet was cutting out all refined sugar from my diet. I felt great and my blood sugar levels were noticably more stable (I still get hungry but I can control it and I'm less cranky). I am hoping to continue with mostly refined sugar free eating habits.
Sugar only on special occasions is something a lot of people try to live by. The problem with this is there are too many special occasions in my life. Friends come to visit, a party, some coworker's birthday or baby shower, holidays, etc. This turns into multiple special occasions a month and then its no longer an occasional sweet treat, but a big part of your diet. Its too much sugar for me. I do believe celebrating is important, but I feel like that can be done with a special meal or activity that doesn't need to include a sweet ending.
I am re-doing the elimination diet now so I don't need to worry about having sugar for a while. Once I am finished I plan on limiting any type of refined sugar to a immediate family member's birthday (mine or Aaron's) or anniversary celebration, plus the occasional piece of pie when visiting my mom. If I don't set limits for myself it is too easy for me to grab something sweet (or bake it myself) and then lose all of the health benefits of being sugar free.
In reality, there are plenty of natural sugar options: dates, agave, maple syrup, fruit (especially pears, bananas, and applesauce), so you don't have to miss out, you just have to bake it yourself.
Maybe you don't think you consume that much sugar, but if you really look at what you are eating and drinking you might be surprised. If you are concerned about sugar like me, here are some unlikely places I've found it hiding:
- Bread. Sugar is often the 2nd or 3rd ingredient in pre-packaged bread. We buy bread from the bakery section instead which only has flour, yeast and water or oil.
- Tomato Paste or canned tomato products. Often as high fructose corn syrup!
- Dried Cranberries. Luckily the bulk section at our stores have apple juice sweetened ones.
- Salad Dressings. Your best bet is to make your own!
- Flavored Yogurt. Tons of sugar in this stuff, try plain greek yogurt with honey or maple syrup instead.
- Granola Bars. Look for date or honey sweetened bars, like Lara Bars.