Let’s make one thing clear upfront, I like sweets. My parents owned a wholesale candy and tobacco business. We had thick Hershey almond bars in our freezer (only available to distributors) at all times keeping company with ice cream. My mom passed down to me and my sibs her love for hot fudge sundaes.
Another thing I want to clarify is I’m just a regular girl sharing her story about how going sweetener free improved my health. It’s just my story. I’m not a nutritionist, although I am passionate about nutrition. Everyone is different but this is what’s worked for me at this season of my life.
A few years back when I did my first whole30, I did away with all sweeteners and baked goods and the benefit I received was amazing. I had been a “clean eater” but still baked and cooked with “healthy” sweeteners. The health benefit has been so extensive that I’ve adopted a no sweetener lifestyle. Okay. So I’m not perfect about it. If something is worth it, I eat it. But it’s not everyday that something is worth it, and the more I live with the benefits of being sweetener free, the more I want to say no to sweets.
In a nutshell, here is what helps me and the benefits I’ve experienced.
1.Eat regular well-balanced meals that include a variety of fresh veggies, especially sweet potatoes and winter sweet squashes. When I skip a meal my hunger drives me to say yes to sweets. The balance of eating an assortment of veggies (with quality protein) keeps me satiated and cravings to a minimum.
2. Keep triggers out of the house. When I bake because I’m having people over for a meal or I’m baking for a blog post or trying recipes out for my classes, I do a taste test then share or freeze them.
3. Even me…an experienced cook after 45 years of feeding family, friends and cooking class guests, I’m still learning to season with a light hand. Salty food gives way to sweet cravings. It happens every time.
4. We stay stocked with fresh fruit for dessert. The more I choose to eat fresh fruit rather than a sweetened treat, the more I prefer it.
5. Coffee with cream and honey was the hardest comfort food for me to change. I’m pleased to say it’s behind me for good. We make french press organic coffee every morning but my take on a morning cup of joe looks totally different now and it’s the bomb. I do a form of bulletproof coffee by adding some grass-fed butter, some full fat coconut milk, a scoop of vital proteins collagen to hot coffee and blend it. It gets all frothy and wonderful and so beats cream and honey. What a win!!
6. Bottled store-bought salad dressings and condiments are notorious for having sugar in them. See my previous post on whole30 salad dressing round up to make your own. I’m a label reader. It’s unfortunate that the majority of prepared foods have some form of sugar in them.
7. Baked or sautéed fruit make great desserts with out the need for a sweetener. These Baked Stuffed Apples helped us celebrate a landmark anniversary during a whole30 round.
And the benefits are so worth it…
1.I am genetically predisposed to heart disease (also breast cancer) and high LDL numbers. Since reigning in sweeteners (and eliminating grain), my lipid profile has improved with stabilized LDL numbers and HDL numbers rising. Also did the particle test (buoyant/dense) and that came back favorable. For the record (I’m really being vulnerable here) I’m thankful for these numbers….LDL/176 HDL/143 TRI/56.
2. After my first pregnancy it became apparent I had periodontal disease. I was 25 then, now I’m 63 and have been able to manage it through diet and lifestyle with a supportive periodontal team. But since the no sweetener change, my numbers have stabilized even more and I experience no discomfort. Periodontal disease is a result of inflammation but in my experience an anti-inflammatory (sweetener free) diet has made all the difference in keeping it stable. These scientific confirmations encourage me to keep on going, in spite of a minor sacrifice.
3. There is an obvious difference in my workouts when I’m not eating sweets. It’s amazing. My strength and endurance are much improved.
4. Abstaining from sweets trains my taste buds to enjoy the flavor of real foods. And it tastes so good.
5. Not eating sweets has helped me sustain a healthy weight.
6. Not eating sweets has given me a greater awareness of food and my body’s response to it.
The disadvantages are purely social. I’m still learning how to handle that graciously. The sharing of food is a beautiful bonding experience and the last thing I want to do is offend anyone. But I’m learning (read Melissa Hartwig’s new book Food Freedom Forever) which brings me to another benefit – this health journey presents the opportunity to always be learning.
One last thing…I have 2 spots left for my cooking class. See this post for details – The Winter Plate, an invitation to lunch.
E-mail me if you’re interested @ firstname.lastname@example.org. We always have a great time!
thankful for you,