As all of us sugar addicts know, once the cinnamon bun hits the tongue, that sweet sugary goodness lights up the brain’s reward center, instantly lifting our spirits.
But, that’s the short-term effect; the long-term picture isn’t as pretty.
Consuming copious amounts of sugar can lead to increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, a slowed-down brain, increased stress, bloating and even premature wrinkles. Even if you stay away from candy and chocolate, ‘added’ sugar is often hidden in packaged foods, protein bars, juice drinks and coffee products.
Exhale consulted with Andi Wolfgang, a nutrition coach and chocolatier based in Boston, for her advice on how to curb sugar cravings with healthier alternatives.
But, First, a Detox
For her clients who want to cleanse their bodies of sugar and other inflammatory foods, Wolfgang usually starts them off with a detox.
“We cut out animal foods, gluten, dairy and, of course, white sugar,” she says. Fruit and locally sourced raw honey are recommended alternatives to any kind of sugar or sweetener.
Depending on the individual, detox can last anywhere from two weeks to two months. “From there, we reevaluate their cravings, which are usually in a different place by then,” says Wolfgang.
At this point, the body’s sugar cravings can continue to be satiated with healthy fruit and honey.
Indulge in Fruit & Honey (But Not Necessarily Together)
For people in good health with normal exercise habits, Wolfgang recommends eating any kind of fruit as a healthy alternative to sugary snacks. “But for those with any health concerns such as blood sugar, diabetes or high cholesterol, I would recommend berries or low-sugar fruits like melon,” she says.
Combining fruit with raw honey is a good idea, but a better alternative would be eating fruit with sliced celery or cucumber, according to Wolfgang.
If you want a cleansing diet, eating nuts and fruit together “isn’t the best for smooth digestion,” she says. “I would start the day off with fruit, and have your fatty foods like nuts later on in the day.”
Wolfgang says using honey is a healthy alternative for everything you normally use sugar with, including coffee, tea, baked goods, sauces and more.
“There are so many different kinds of honey, too, based on the flower it comes from, so there are many options to explore and figure out which one works best for your taste,” she says.
Wolfgang emphasizes that locally sourced raw honey is the best option because “it comes from your local environment and you can avoid any possible allergy symptoms.”
Evening Dessert Is Ok With This Recipe
You’ve had your serving of fruit in the morning and added honey to your tea in the afternoon.
But, after dinner, you’re still craving something sweet. Now what?
“I tell my clients to keep bananas in the freezer and make banana ice cream with a food processor,” says Wolfgang.
All you need is peeled, chopped, frozen bananas, unsweetened almond or peanut butter and unsweetened cacao powder.
“When put together in a food processor, it comes out creamy, filling and rich,” she says. “Your choice of nut butter helps to bulk it up and give it substance like an actual ice cream dessert.”
So long, Ben & Jerry’s.