My last name isn't Sugar for nothing. You see, I come from a long line of sugar-lovers. I learned from the very best, my mother, who has an entire kitchen cabinet devoted to Peanut M&Ms. I once watched all 5 feet of her devour a king-size Hershey's Almond Bar in one sitting, so I know the apple (pie) didn't fall far from the tree. And the scale was living proof.
I had learned through my many weight-loss mistakes that I needed to eat healthier all day long, but eating healthy all day made me want to cave at night. As soon as that last bite of supper made it to my lips, my brain immediately went to dessert.
I knew the issue went deep when I'd have a decent-size serving of dessert but always wanted more. One small bowl of ice cream easily had me rummaging through my cupboard for a handful of chocolate chips. Oh, and while we're at it, let's crumble that cookie on top. I wondered why I felt foggy, had dull headaches, or woke up in the middle of the night with stomach cramps. I also didn't want my husband to know. Then came the day he caught me hiding behind the freezer door with a spoon hanging from my mouth. I knew right then and there, I was an addict who needed to break this sugar habit.
After polishing off a pint of So Delicious Snickerdoodle Cashew Milk ice cream (holy deliciousness!), I went cold turkey. I had to. That's just my personality. It's all or nothing, baby, and I knew I couldn't have just one little taste, so I had to have none at all. But instead of denying myself anything sweet, I switched to fresh fruit. I didn't just have a boring old banana. I took the time to prepare a gorgeous rainbow-colored fruit bowl. Sliced mango, strawberries, blueberries, pear, cantaloupe, apple, banana, kiwi, and clementines. I'll tell you after that first bowl of fruit, I was pissed. Because fruit is not ice cream. I stuck with it though. For an entire week, then two weeks, then three. By that time, I was completely in the habit of eating fruit, and since I had stopped buying and baking all those treats, the temptation and the cravings dissipated. Now after dinner, I crave sweet juicy grapes, watermelon, and raspberries. Seriously.
But a week later, while
pressing my face against the glass door of the ice cream freezer shopping one day, I noticed a new flavor of cashew milk ice cream — salted caramel cluster. Sweet dairy-free goodness! I'm sorry, but as a vegan, it was my duty to buy that sh*t. And I didn't even wait until after dinner. As soon as I got home, I tore off the lid. It was so perfectly soft and creamy, and that first spoonful was heavenly. But to my absolute shock, it tasted too sweet. TOO SWEET?! How is that even possible? I was addicted to sugar, remember? After a few more spoonfuls, I couldn't take it, and get this — I put it back in the freezer. I had finally beaten my sugar addiction.
Don't get me wrong — I still eat real sugar but not every single day. This little experiment gave my habits a reset, so now I'm able to enjoy things in moderation without going overboard. I've realized there are ways to get my sweet fix without eating refined sugars. I bake date-sweetened cookies, swirl up some ice cream made with frozen fruit, or use fresh fruit to sweeten baked goods like these banana strawberry apple grape muffins. And for those times when I'm really craving something more, a handful of raw almonds with chocolate chips usually does the trick. Or I go a little nuts and bake chocolate cupcakes, eat one (or four, you know, whatever), then I give the rest away.
So if you want to cut down on the white stuff, what you need to do is — get ready for it — cut down on the white stuff! I did it cold turkey, but you can do it more gradually. The end result is the same. I found the more sugar I ate, the more I craved it. So when I didn't eat it, I didn't crave it. I felt a sense of lightness and mental clarity, but the freedom I felt from not being chained to sugar was refreshing. You know when you eat healthy and you feel good? Yeah, that happened. And that's what keeps me going.