Let’s start by saying, that if you have a constant sweet tooth or a craving for something sweet; it is not completely your fault. Blame it on the processed food industry. The amount of sugar that is consumed in North America is obscene. Americans consume more than 60lbs of sugar a year. Now if you think about the amount of sugar that you sprinkle on your cereal, or in coffee, that leaves a lot of sugar unaccounted for. That remaining balance is consumed in processed foods of all types.
I’m not an accredited Nutritionist or Dietitian, but the following is my version of Food Chemistry 101. Google “bad sugars” or “sugar alternatives” and you will have enough info to digest. This will probably help you to forget all about your sugar cravings. Now on with the lesson:
Sugar is a carbohydrate. There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Simple carbs are things like sucrose, fructose, and lactose, which have one or two molecules of sugar. These carbs are like high octane fuel that has to be burned up or stored as fat; it also causes your Glycemic Index (GI) to shoot through the roof, providing a quick fix of aerobic energy. This is all well and good if you are being chased by a lion, but it has a different effect if lying on the couch watching The New Jersey Housewives. Your GI skyrockets, then crashes, which leads to fatigue and the cycle continues. On the other hand, complex carbs slowly releases sugar into your bloodstream which helps to maintain a more healthy GI balance.
Here endeth the lesson. It’s time to get back on topic, “How to Satisfy a Sweet Tooth.” Now that we know one reason why we crave sweets, it’s time to do something about it. Starting with AVOIDING PROCESSED FOODS, the crap that they hide in packaged goods is sinful; all to make a product as cheaply as possible to keep you coming back for more. I started out by saying that it is the processed food industry that is responsible, but the real truth is that they are only responding to our demands for cheaper and cheaper food. You get what you pay for.
If you are looking for something sweet, reach for fruit, avoid fruit juices which are often masked with added sugar, or at best is a concentrated version of the real thing. Try to eat fruit in the morning or early afternoon. It will give you time to burn off the fructose. Fructose and glucose are primarily the same types of sugar with the major difference being that glucose begins to digest in the stomach and requires the release of insulin into the bloodstream to metabolize. Fructose is processed in the liver and doesn’t require insulin.
There are several alternatives to refined sugar such as coconut palm sugar, agave, date sugar, honey, stevia, maple syrup, or molasses. These can all be used in baking, however, they are all high in fructose and several studies show that fructose is equally as bad for you. The benefits of some of these alternatives are they have a more intense sugar profile and may have added vitamins and minerals.
This may all sound like terrible news and you may be thinking “damn everything is bad for you, life sucks, I need a piece of cheesecake”. The reality is that we all get our just deserts; so we have to try and make the most informed decisions possible. Learn to understand your sweet craving. Is it boredom, fatigue, do I need to get busy, or do I really need something sweet? Go head treat yourself “occasionally”, because after all “You can live long, or make it seem long”.
Enjoy the journey.
– James West,