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Taming the Sweet Tooth

I have a total sweet tooth, and if I'm not mindful, over time it can creep up, much like a caffeine addiction, where you need more to be satisfied, blah blah blah.... So to keep it in check I found the best way is to satisfy the need for something sweet in ways that don't over-excite those parts of the brain that scream "SUGAR!!" Honestly, I don't avoid carbs at all. I just know that foods like brown rice, oats, and any other whole grains really feel good to my body whereas eating a store bought muffin for instance will set off a little "crazy" in my brain. I mention Amy Green below- you'll see her link- because I can relate to what she says- "I don't avoid this stuff to lose weight- I avoid it to gain peace." Maybe we ladies have a sensitivity to it, maybe an allergy, who knows or cares. At this point the reason doesn't change the solution. 

Naturally and mildly sweet whole foods like sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squashes and fruits, spices like cinnamon and mildly sweet sweeteners like blackstrap molasses are winners for my body I've discovered after much trial and error of the right balance between having nothing sweet and a sugar buffet- they are all delightfully sweet enough but also nutritious and don't send me looking for more.

Believe me, its taken years to figure out just the right balance for me- everyone is different. I've tried no white sugar, no sugar during the week but ok on weekends, only sugar alcohols, total elimination (low carb), etc. I've found there is a certain threshold I can have sugar and my body is like, "ok that's cool, enough." It's a pretty low threshold, though. Once I pass that, my brain/body wants more and then just a little more, then just a little bit more than that, on and on. Then comes  the energy ups and downs, mood swings, weight gain, cravings, and just a general disorganization of my appetite in general. But, if I'm proactive, like adding the blackstrap molasses to my plain whole or 4% fat Greek yogurt when I'm feeling like it, I'll completely avoid a sugar craving all together. The body is so amazing (and perplexing). Another craving preventer is a ridiculously easy to assemble lunch that Amy Green from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free's blog/website/cookbook eats (she's so great!).  It's cottage cheese, topped canned pumpkin puree (organic tastes WAY better than Libby's) sprinkled with pecans or walnuts and cinnamon on top. She sprinkles a bit of stevia on it too, either way is fine for me. Sounds strange, but its so good! You can even put the whole thing on a bed a baby spinach leaves and its a nutritional powerhouse lunch. 

So, I just made this smoothie the other day and it was just right for my emerging sweet tooth craving- it satisfied that sweet tooth right then and there. I felt so much better afterwards than if I'd gone for a chocolate milkshake, which ends up making me feel nauseas and sluggish, and being post-partum, way more difficult to lose the baby weight (which is hard anyway!). 

Try it and tell me what you think....

Serves 2 regular people or 1 nursing mama who has a sweet tooth and no time to make lunch! Feel free to add a tablespoon or two of flax if you want for more protein, fiber and Omega-3's. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Smoothie

2 cups almond milk (unsweetened- vanilla or plain) 

2 bananas

1 cup ice

2 tablespoons raw cacao powder, dutch processed cocoa or natural cocoa (unsweetened)

pinch of sea salt 

2-3 tablespoons almond butter- unsweetened or mildly sweetened with a little honey or maple syrup already mixed in it. Check the label- every brand and type is different. I have both a totally unsweetened one that I love and one with maple syrup (Justin's brand). 

I know the title of the recipe is misleading- almond butter tends to be a better alternative nutritionally but tastes the same in a smoothie. This seems like a lot of fat- but its good kind. And you'll probably share this smoothie anyway, it makes plenty. There's a difference between this and the same amount of fat from Crisco! Ground nuts in this form are a whole food fat- similar to a whole food sweetener like the bananas- offer more nutritionally and are absorbed more slowly than concentrated fats and sugars. Fiber is your friend. 

Mix in a high speed blender and enjoy.