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March 12, 2012 3:58 PM   Subscribe

Be gone, processed sugars! But I need some help, please.

OK, this is it. I've attempted to give up processed sugar in the past for short periods at a time (a few weeks), but it has been a challenge. Yesterday after eating a chocolate croissant and later a ginger cookie and feeling absolutely exhausted after each treat, I decided that it's over between me and those sneaky little granules. The high is short and fleeting, and the crash is huge and obvious. Wah!

I don't drink pop or keep lots of store-bought sweet things in the house, but my downfall is eating sugary stuff when I'm already tired, stressed, or when I just feel like sitting in front of the computer and mindlessly eating. I also have a hard time avoiding dessert; I always want a little something after dinner. I made the aforementioned ginger cookies mainly for my co-workers but ended up eating a bunch of them myself. I have learned that if it's in the house, I'll eat it.

I need some help getting past these cravings! My boyfriend, thankfully, has been off almost all sweets (aside from the occasional dark chocolate or hot chocolate) for about a year, so he's a good cheerleader. I don't feel crappy when I eat natural sugars like those found in fruit, so I'm OK with keeping fruit in my diet for now. I also feel fine eating small amounts of honey and agave (with yogurt or steel cut oats, for example).

I'm looking for dessert-esqe recipes or ideas that are a little sweet, but naturally so. If you are sugar-free, how did you do it? Do you feel differently? I feel overwhelmed by the prospect of never having sugar again. It makes me sad that I may feel better giving up yummy desserts at restaurants (especially after living in France, this feels almost impossible!) It's so flipping good but it makes me feel like crap (I have to remember that!)
posted by sucre to Health & Fitness (36 answers total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
yogurt (a lot of people like greek yogurt, but I'm fine with regular yogurt). I recommend low-fat (but not fat free) as this will help with keeping your blood sugars stable and it tastes soooo much better. mix some plain yogurt with a couple of tablespoons of sugar-free jam or jelly and yummmmmyyyyy you are good to go :)
posted by saraindc at 4:09 PM on March 12, 2012

sugar free meaning no added sugars besides sugar naturally occurring in fruit, of course.
posted by saraindc at 4:10 PM on March 12, 2012

I trained myself to not really crave sweets anymore by replacing all of my sweet snacks/desserts with savory ones. Cheese makes a GREAT dessert! Some people believe that eating cheese tells your body that you are done eating and will help it turn off its cravings; I don't know if that's true, but I do know that a little cheese course at the end of dinner is really satisfying to me now.

For times when you feel like you just need something to mindlessly consume, go for tea instead of food. My favorite right now is Good Earth sweet and spicy tea- it doesn't contain any added sugar yet it tastes sweet because it has a crap-ton of cinnamon in it.
posted by joan_holloway at 4:18 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Trader Joe's has no-sugar-added chocolate bars. A square or two of the sugar-free dark chocolate, left to dissolve ever-so-slowly on my tongue, deals with my evening desert cravings. Ginger tea can also fake out my taste buds.

Focusing on sugar may not be enough. You might find that cutting back on other highly processed carbs (e.g., things made from wheat) will go along way towards cutting down on cravings.
posted by dws at 4:21 PM on March 12, 2012

Another thing to put in yogurt is a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa and a teaspoon of xylitol. Yum, chocolate yogurt!

I like xylitol because it tastes like sugar but is low glycemic index and prevents cavities rather than causing them. Xylitol can also be used in baking, as long as you're not using yeast (so not in breads, but cakes and pies work great).

Berries are kind of my go-to healthy sweet dessert -- they're very filling, and have less fructose than some other fruits.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:21 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here is what has helped for me in a similar place. I've been eating low carb, including low sugar, for the last year. Two things that have helped a lot are:

a) eating more fat. Higher fat foods make me feel satiated longer. I eat full fat greek yogurt, for example, and it still feels very luxurious to me. Eating low carb I had to let go of everything I had internalized about low fat, but it's been a huge success for me in terms of my health. It still feels a bit like a "reward" but doesn't set off my insulin spike/crash the way carbs/sugar do.

b) eating small amounts of really good dark chocolate when I absolutely need something sweet.
posted by gingerbeer at 4:21 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you really feel like you need to give up sugar *permanently* - no exceptions - to make this work and start feeling better? Seems like this might be a less daunting process if you reserve the right to enjoy a fancy dessert at your favorite restaurant from time to time or a piece of cake on your birthday, while generally going sugar free on a day-to-day basis. I know cold turkey is much harder for me because of that idea of "never again!" - that can stop you from taking non-100% but still very meaningful steps toward your goal, particularly since it sounds like there is not a medical reason you need to do this (such as someone with celiac's and gluten).
posted by cupcakemuffin at 4:23 PM on March 12, 2012

Banana + cocoa powder. Blend. Freeze. It's kinda like ice cream. You might want to try adding cinnamon.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:23 PM on March 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

I have a terrible sweet tooth. I think that a lot of it is due to habit, though - having a sweet thing after dinner or coffee is just something that I do.

When I'm trying to cut down on processed sugars, I keep a lot of fruit in my apartment - stuff like oranges and berries, that are succulent and sweet. That way I don't have to fight the craving for sweets and the habit of having sweets at the same time. The other side of that is just not buying things that I feel like I shouldn't eat, so that my only option if I'm craving them is to actually go out and get them.

I don't crave carb-y sweets, though - for me it's entirely about the sweetness. This might not work for you.

(I also like the suggestion of a cinnamony tea! I love those, especially when it's cold.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:29 PM on March 12, 2012

I agree with gingerbeer. I've been doing keto or LCHF and the best cure for a sugar craving is something high-fat.
posted by callmejay at 4:30 PM on March 12, 2012

I began using the recommendations here something like eleven years ago (jesus christ) and eliminated all sugar and simple carbs six months later; other than inadvertently, I haven't had any sugar since. For me, eating breakfast with protein every day, as well as getting enough protein and complex carbs throughout the rest of the day, were really key to marginalizing sugar enough that in the end, my body really just didn't want it anymore. Which isn't to say I don't still crave it, but the repulsion wins out easily. I highly recommend the method outlined in the book - I don't think I'd have been able to give up sugar permanently without it. YMMV, obviously.
posted by granted at 4:33 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Using palm sugar, coconut sugar, maple sugar or maple syrup, which is much lower on the glycemic scale than agave, gives one a bit of sweetness without the blood sugar spikes.

You can make a zillion things with maple syrup, for example, from cookies to crumbles to pudding. And they sell chocolate flavored with just agave if you want it.
posted by devymetal at 4:34 PM on March 12, 2012

oh i feel for you. this thread had alot of recipe ideas. i also look for raw foods and gluten free type of recipe blogs for stuff made from non-sugar ingredients. & yeah, line up a bunch of healthier goodies to keep yourself from going crazy-crashy-bingy, that's what i try to do. mine seem to keep well in the freezer, then toast up (i do alot of non gluten muffin/cake things).

also i ascribe to the eating thing where you have fruit breakfast, wait an half hour, have other meals that do not include fruit. i find having that all-sweet mealtime, then staying full, helps. (best to start with low-fodmap fruits if you are not accustomed to eating alot of fresh fruit, is something i wish i'd known.)

your palate will reset eventually! just think of it as quality-time, not quantity!

Also, watching things that convince me how superduperevillikecrack sugar is helps the resolve. good luck!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 4:39 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

In the beginning of our relationship, my partner and I had sugar bets to see who could go the longest without a dessert treat. It was a playful start to a difficult battle to get off sugar. Now, we use this lecture (slyt, which has become quite popular) to help with the motivation.

There is a funny supermarket story which gave me the phrase that I use now, quite successfully, to quell the urge. I was in a grocery store, on vacation from my organic agriculturally based intentional community, reaching for my once-a-year-superbowl-treat-bag-of-Doritos when a complete stranger slightly intrudes on my friend and I and kind of yells, "that shit will fuckin' kill you". Now, the audacity alone made me love the guy, because I agree and love the conviction, but, see he didn't understand that this was just my yearly treat...which means I'm justified. Right? After that, we end up chatting for a good hour about life and yadda yadda yadda.

Fast forward to current day. I remember that phrase, for some reason, and thought it would be great ammunition for me to suppress sugar cravings. So, repeating "that shit will fuckin' kill you", when I want a cookie, and the knowledge of the toxicity of sugar, from the video, make the cravings easier to deal with.

When I want a treat, I try to have something nutrient dense (read, rich). Shortbread is a current fav. I use Madeliene Kamman's recipe and use between 50 and 75% of the sugar (usually rapadura). P. 132 of this link.
posted by danep at 4:49 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you really feel like you need to give up sugar *permanently* - no exceptions - to make this work and start feeling better? Seems like this might be a less daunting process if you reserve the right to enjoy a fancy dessert at your favorite restaurant from time to time or a piece of cake on your birthday, while generally going sugar free on a day-to-day basis.

I think this really depends on the person. For me, cutting out sugar completely was initially more psychologically overwhelming, but it gradually became apparent that "none at all" was going to be much easier than "a little bit." I guess it's like any habit or addiction - for some, moderation is best; for others, it's all or nothing and (speaking from experience here) "moderation" ends up falling into the "all" category.
posted by granted at 4:49 PM on March 12, 2012

I really like to slice up some strawberries and dust them generously with cocoa powder. You could add a tiny bit of agave, too, to make it a bit sweeter. The sugars and moisture from the berries turns the cocoa powder into a lovely paste over the berries. I like to add enough cocoa so I have some powdery goop to lick from the bowl at the end.
posted by shortyJBot at 4:53 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

How do you feel about souffles?
posted by spunweb at 4:54 PM on March 12, 2012

Sugar-free cocoa! Oh man, sugar free cocoa is the best thing ever for this. At first it will taste bitter and strange and not at all like the cocoa you're used to. But it grows on you.
posted by cairdeas at 5:02 PM on March 12, 2012

If you can really cut out sugar pretty harshly for a while, you will notice that your cravings for excessive sweets will go down. You might also notice that you start filling the voids with odd things that you "justify" -- fake sugared beverages, far too much of the dark chocolate that you were only going to have a bit of, you chug half the bottle of Kefir that you were going to drink over a week. At least that is me, I will find ways to get something sweet and that was a good indicator that I needed to cut even the decent sweets back. Also, there are some claims floating around out there, that even the fake sugars (splenda, stevia, aspartame) can affect insulin and those things we are trying to avoid. I try to cut all those out too. I make exceptions for honey, though I try not to mouth-feed myself from the bear.

So, I have one good tip: try and add a bit of labor between you and the sweet. I don't necessarily mean, put that dark chocolate bar on the other side of a field of razor wire. Just try and keep yourself from "easy sweet".

I had a giant bag of dried blueberries from Costco. Anti-oxidants, yay, right? I would jam a fist in there and shove them in my maw like a bear. Ugh.

Then I had a brilliant idea. I also had purchased this big bag of pumkin and sunflower seeds (in there shells). I mixed all that up. F. Now, if you grab a fistful, you have to sift through all the seeds.

This might sound a bit ridiculous. But a better example is an orange. The act of having to stop and peel the orange takes time. Chugging a glass of orange juice does not. The peel, fiber, seeds, all that slows you down enough to look in the mirror for a split second.

As far as dessert, well, I don't bake, so I don't really have good examples on that front. The best example I can think of is that King Cake with that little baby inside, but I don't think that is the best example.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 5:15 PM on March 12, 2012

I used to always have a really bad sweet tooth and had to have dark chocolate or something sweet pretty much every after and/or every evening + always having some sort of bagel or muffin every morning, but I had high blood sugars the last time I got a physical so I've gone healthy low carb (lots of salads, roasted veggies, lean meat, cheese) and I no longer crave sweets except for about once a month. My experience is that it's easier to cut out starches & sugars altogether than to try to go half way. It's a big change, but I dont think I could have cut carbs without cutting starches.
posted by theNeutral at 5:35 PM on March 12, 2012

I like making super-dark chocolate with stevia, a sweetener that's made from a plant. Just buy unsweetened baker's chocolate from a market, melt in a double boiler, and mix in some stevia powder (which is also available now in supermarkets in my area - northeastern U.S. - but you can easily buy it over the internet as well.) I'm a diabetic and it definitely doesn't affect my glucose level as much as sugar does.
posted by XMLicious at 6:02 PM on March 12, 2012

It helps me when I don't have sweets at home , not at all . But I do buy it sometimes .
Nice and very filling dessert : sweet potato . I will cook it ( I like it easy way , simply boiling without peeling ), then peel , mush and put a little into pretty little dish . The rest goes into container in the fridge or freezer .
Or , pumpkin : cut into cubes , put into pan , cook it in it's own juices with little bit of oil .
Pretty tiny dishes that I use come from Japan . The spoon is very small , "coffee spoon". I noticed that dishes in USA are getting bigger every year , and spoons too. Tiny pretty spoon will let me enjoy tasty stuff longer without eating too much.
posted by Oli D. at 6:21 PM on March 12, 2012

I take calcium+vitamin d 2x / day. It cuts my sugar/ cravings to near zero. I definitely can tell when I don't take it.
posted by meeshell at 7:09 PM on March 12, 2012

Do you eat enough fiber/protein with your meals? If you start eating more beans/lentils, it might help your sugar cravings. When I have a big bowl of lentils or something for dinner, I do not crave sweets(or anything) later. I like to bring roasted chick peas to work when people bring in sweets - that way I can have one and snack on the chick peas and not crave anymore sweets. For some reason it works.

You might also need to retrain your sweet tooth. I used to hate dark chocolate and I ate tons of sugary candy bars. I've managed to change my tastes to where I now prefer dark chocolate, and with dark chocolate I can eat a square or two and be good. If I eat a candy bar, I will want another candy bar and another and another...

Anyway, I've basically cut all the junk out because I do not have much self control when it comes to junk food. My weakness is ice cream and my solution is to simply not buy it. I either buy one serving cups or I just know that I will eat the pint in 1 or 2 days. I will think about the ice cream sitting in the freezer until it is gone...but if it's not in the freezer I don't think about it at all.
posted by fromageball at 7:45 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I crave sweets, it usually helps if I eat a small protein snack. For me, that usually means nuts.
posted by annsunny at 8:51 PM on March 12, 2012

Try fasting for a day and then giving up sugar for a month or two (or more). Fasting breaks your eating/taste-related habits very effectively. If you find yourself getting used to sweets again, simply repeat the one day fast and quit again.

Try dried apricots from WholeFoods, they are a great replacement for sweets, so tasty.
posted by rainy at 9:05 PM on March 12, 2012

Seriously, google sugar free souffles. They're a nice little protein bomb because of the eggs, and you can normally sub in agave, stevia, etc for the sugar. This is a good one, for strawberry souffles:
posted by spunweb at 9:06 PM on March 12, 2012

Mango sorbet:
(use honey for the syrup, but you won't need much if the mangos are sweet)
posted by piyushnz at 10:31 PM on March 12, 2012

I've given up processed sugar. I still eat maple syrup, agave syrup, fruit and stevia. Agave and stevia a supposed to be best for glycemic index. It has been easy for me because I get a pretty quick negative reaction to high sugar foods. It has been a blessing in disguise.

My exceptions to this include sugar that is in things like ketchup, or a restaurant sauce or glace.

I still eat dessert but I have to make them myself. I primarily use Baking with Agave Nectar and Sweet Freedom. I also have become reliant on Booster Juice as a treat on the go because I can't eat many convenience treats. I don't drink any pop or juice even if it diet.
posted by Gor-ella at 6:59 AM on March 13, 2012

er Baking with Agave Nectar and Sweet Freedom are cook books!
posted by Gor-ella at 7:00 AM on March 13, 2012

Not a recipe, but the list of sweeteners I use in the house is as follows:
Raw Honey, sucanat, agave nectar, blackstrap molasses, turbinado sugar, muscovado sugar, maple syrup.

There is also processed white sugar, which I only use for my coffee.

Also, almost everything with chocolate in it has refined sugar in it. I am not finding a chocolate using agave nectar instead of refined sugar or making my own chocolate. As such, I accept that and move on. I use the best quality chocolate, but I accept that as an acceptable process.

I make muffins and granola bars for snacking on. Greek Yogurt + raw honey is a frequent snack.

I like sorbet all and all, but hell... if I wanted ice cream - sorbet != ice cream. There is no substitute. I could go to the store, buy some heavy cream (I don't stock this normally), come back and make it (eggs, sucanat, cream, vanilla bean, etc), chill the custard and let it sit for 24 hours and then make ice cream *tomorrow* or I can just cut back the amount of ice cream I consume by buying the little mini ones. I minimize the ice cream consumption by purchase size and elongate the trips by either making it or making a sorbet - but I am not completely eliminating the processed element. It is not practical for me.

Good cookbooks for decent sweets (sorry no links): Eat Clean Cookbook / Mayo Clinic Cookbook. I've got an old Techniques of Helathy Cooking textbook from culinary school with decent recipes in it as well.

FWIW: My wife drives the nutrition in the house. I cook it. If you have a specific recipe that you love that you do not know how to improve its healthiness, memail it to me. I will retool it for you, and probably correct a few poor techniques the recipe uses.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:54 AM on March 13, 2012

The best thing for me, a confirmed sugar addict, was a 3-pronged approach.

1) cut out everything sweet. It's not just refined sugar that's a trigger for me, it's anything sweet. There is some scientific evidence forming out there to indicate that I'm not alone. I've also eliminated honey, fruit juice, maple syrup, agave nectar, Stevia, sucralose, aspartame, etc...

2) cut out a LOT of your refined carbs, as much as you can handle; i.e. starches, white flour, white rice, etc. The reasoning being that they act just like sugar in the digestive tract, and have similar insulin response. high carb foods trigger food cravings, headaches and fatigue for me, so out they go.

now I'm sure you're looking at this going "OMG there's nothing left! what in god's name can I possibly eat?! Which leads me to:

3a) Eat. Fat. Healthy fat, I mean - I'm not advocating a mad Atkins bacon-and-butter bender here. I'm talking stuff like tuna, avocados, whole roast chicken with the skin and dark meat, etc. This step is critical to both satiety and actually enjoying your food. Yay for stuff like tilapia fillets sauteed in olive oil, lemon juice and garlic, with a little sprinkle of Old Bay! If you can't handle butter, try ghee instead - it keeps better anyhow, and smells terrific.

3b) Eat. Protein. If you're sedentary you can get by with a little less, but I'm currently heavily active (running, lifting, cycling, Nordic skiing) for at least 45 minutes daily, 6-7 days/week. If I'm not eating protein, I'm burning off muscle, so I'm trying to get at least 150g/daily.

This is important: You HAVE GOT to eat enough calories. Most women trying to make dietary changes obsess over restricting calories waaaaaaay too much and essentially trip their metabolism into starvation mode, mainly by eating their entire daily allowance as processed "lowfat" garbage that is chock full of highly processed carbs, chemical additives and "hidden" sugars like "cane juice" or "natural sweetners" (this is food industry weasel wording for "high fructose corn syrup" btw). By eating these things, you are essentially wasting your calorie budget on calorie-dense, unsatisfying "food-like-substance" that does nothing to nourish you, yet gets sent straight to your fat storage mechanism. The problem with sugar and simple carb is that there is basically nothing bioavailable in the small amounts of nutrients they do contain. The "lowfat" fat-phobic, cereal-and-grain heavy dietary craze which sprang up in the 70s and 80s has in essence created a population that has become simultaneously overweight and malnourished.

When I say you have got to eat enough calories, I'm not messing around. I have a ~20 oz protein/fruit smoothie that's in the realm of 600+ calories every. single. morning. The only difference between this thing and a full-fat latte is the lack of sugar / simple carb - the dense calorie load comes from fat and protein instead. I'm eating tons of fresh produce, fruit, nuts and lean meat. Lunch is a salad with fresh home-roasted turkey breast, that kind of thing. I'm eating in the realm of 2500-3000 calories PER DAY and have lost 15 pounds in the past 8 weeks. I happen to be a 43 year old woman btw, not a 20 year old boy, so from this you may infer that my activity levels are through the roof. And the reason they're like that is because I am eating the right things and have tons of energy to burn. Seriously, I have not been this active or motivated since I was in my teens and early 20s.

LEARN HOW TO COOK if you don't already know. And for "cooking" I mean Cooking, not just reheating reconstituted Human Chow from the freezer aisle. Roasted vegetables with savory spices are absolutely amazing; I could eat them for every meal. Buy this book and a few staple herbs/spices, and you'll never be stumped over what to do with all that weird produce you got in your CSA delivery ever again.

I hate to tell you this but if you are serious about going sugar-free then "dessert" as you know it is pretty much off the table. Berries with some greek yogurt are about as sweet as it gets for me these days. A *small* square or 2 of high quality dark chocolate (Valrhona, etc.) once in a great while, like maybe every couple of weeks.

The sweetest thing I consume these days (and to my realigned taste buds it's almost too sweet) is a post-hard-workout protein smoothie I make with 14 oz of full-fat coconut milk, a banana, 2 pitted dates, a tablespoon of unsweetened extra-dark cocoa (King Arthur ftw), and a pinch of salt and cinnamon. Now that I've weaned myself off of sweet things, this bad boy is like drinking a Blizzard straight, and it's in the realm of 800 calories at one pop.

If you're a vegetarian, of course, then all bets are off and things get tricky. I'm not saying it can't be done, but oh my god there is SO MUCH processed crap food-like substance out there masquerading as "healthy vegetarian" and "vegan" and soforth. Tofurky, I'm looking at you! My husband actually (voluntarily) gave up a lifetime vegetarian diet in January, after being diagnosed with both Crohn's and an iron deficiency last fall, and the subsequent discovery via food journalling that he has pretty strong gluten, dairy and soy sensitivities, and that in fact nearly all grains and pseudograins (like quinoa) also tend to trigger his GI symptoms.

A food journal is a really, really helpful idea btw. I started journalling in part to support my husband and to help eliminate things I was preparing that were making him sick. I stuck with it after I discovered on my own all the stuff that triggered nausea, fatigue, SAD, headaches and food cravings in me as well. Side benefits for both of us have been fat loss (my husband, who at 5'9" and 145 was the classic definition of "skinny-fat" lost the mini-donut around his waist and put on 8 lbs of healthy muscle), clear skin, and better ability to concentrate. I am pretty well convinced that the ongoing "epidemic" of ADHD in this country is going to turn out to be related to carb addiction.

We are both so much healthier, happier, and more energetic for having gone through this. If you do decide to quit carbs altogether, do be warned: you are in for roughly a week of PURE HELL. It is so, so very worth it though if you can manage to do it.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:53 PM on March 13, 2012 [11 favorites]

You need to reteach your body where to get energy from, you want it to burn fat and that is why you should eat fats and proteins when you crave sweets. You aren't craving sweets, you are craving energy. (Not including the fact that we are wonderful creatures for deluding ourselves into thinking we need something we do not.)

You want to cut all sweets that aren't fruit, including fruit juice, at least for awhile so that your body can take that time to relearn, and after that if you choose to eat those sorts of sweets it should be very sparingly. Honey is NOT good. The main problem with those 'other' sweeteners is that they continue to confuse your body into thinking you need sugar for energy. Artificial sweeteners are particularly bad.. if you start eating a bunch of aspartame you will want sweets very badly.

My advice is this, detox completely and stay away from other simple carbs as well during this time, especially flour. Flour is basically sugar to your body. After you feel miserable for a week or two you should start to feel much, much better. If you crave sweets eat protein and fats, I like hard boiled eggs and avocado for this. If you have a particularly strong craving you just cant ignore try an all fruit smoothie with no added sweetener. I like to do strawberry, banana and pineapple with water or green tea. That usually tricks my brain into thinking I just had a fabulous dessert.

I have been off and on sugar free for 10 years and have read sooooo many books about it. Feel free to ask me more!
posted by trishthedish at 4:05 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow wow wow! There are so many wonderful suggestions here, and lots of support. To address a few of the questions:

I could definitely do with a lot more protein. My bf notices how grumpy I can be if I have too much sugar/carbs and not enough protein. Something I can work on!

Carbs! I think I'd feel so much better if I reduced my carb intake. I notice how sleepy I feel after a very carb-y meal, for sure!

I think about eating out with my dad on Tuesdays and ordering whatever I feel like (tonight we shared calamari with bleu cheese, tempura green beans, and shrimp wraps), and I worry about feeling restricted or punished somehow. Something to think about.

I adore tea and drink it daily so I think an after-dinner tisane habit could definitely work. I've also done well with a small square of really dark chocolate (and usually just need a little taste to feel satisfied).

Thank you all sooo much. I feel like this is much more do-able, whether I go cold turkey or gradually reduce my general sweets intake.
posted by sucre at 5:57 PM on March 13, 2012

superduperevillikecrack is onto it with raw foods.

If processed sugar is what you are avoiding, you can go very far with raw desserts.

Before trying to make the raw desserts at home, go to nearest (and best that you can afford) raw restaurant to try things out.

If you like them, depending on your city, you might be able to buy them pre-made (raw brownies, cheesecakes, cookies, truffles). Ease into making your own recipes by starting out small (it can hit the budget hard and be a lot of work to make more complicated recipes at first)

failing that, high quality dark chocolate.

fyi, Raw desserts can have many more calories (often made from cashew or other nut bases), but a raw cheesecake, for example, is not refined/processed at all. And are usually healthful in other regards if calories are not a concern.
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 12:00 PM on March 14, 2012

The French Royalty were made to eat dessert.

The human body wasn't made to eat that part of a meal. It's an artificial invention that's terrible for us. Dessert is a treat you have at a once-in-a-month-or-less meal; it's not something you should be striving to include.
posted by talldean at 5:56 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

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