I am a sugar addict.
There, I said it. If there are chocolate chip cookies in my house, I will eat them. All of them. Donuts, pretzels, wheat pasta, bagels, or crusty French bread, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m not proud of this fact, but I think that by sharing it with you, I will show you that there is hope! Because I promise, there is!
Every three months or so, I need to readjust my carbs. I choose to make a brand new commitment to myself that I will not eat processed sugar, or super-processed foods that turn into simple sugar in my body. Somehow, over those three months, I get off track a bit and need this gentle reminder to hit the restart button. I used to make complicated commitments to myself about how I would have to donate money to my favorite charity for the amount of things I ate, or run that number of miles, or wear a big sign that said I was a sugar addict. I finally recognized that instead of punishing myself for an addiction, I just simply needed to forgive myself this behavior and hit the restart button.
No judgment, no punishment. Just restart.
I have to tell you, it’s an amazing difference! And truly, when I look at my food journals, I can tell you that I actually make the choice to eat those self-sabotaging foods far less frequently with this more gentle and compassionate view. It’s pretty neat what a little love can do.
There are many lists on countless websites that will tell you the harmful effects of eating sugar, but I would like to point out a few benefits of quitting sugar. First, think of all the things that you will eat instead! Back on track again, I’m craving sweet potatoes fries, butternut squash soup and curry. I can taste the sunshiny sweetness of a fresh strawberry from Miller’s farm, and the subtle lift of cinnamon in my favorite breakfast bread. I also sleep better. I wake much more rested and ready to go. And when I want something sugary, I take the time to figure out why. This morning, when I was unloading the dishwasher I saw my favorite mug. I instantly wanted a mugful of sweet, black tea, my ultimate weakness. I chose a big glass of water instead, but I was able to see the power of routine in that moment. Now that mug is put away and I have assigned that chore to my kids until a new morning practice is in place. Giving up sugar in your life may have very different results. You may see the scale shift and feel a difference in the way your clothing fit. You might have more energy, or feel encouraged to take the next step in a happy, healthy life. You may cook more, or eat out less. No matter what the results are, they will be a positive step for you in your journey.
“What about dessert? Oh, I must have dessert!”
Yes, me too! And cake on my birthday as well. That’s why I needed to create a guideline for myself. I think of it as training wheels to keep me from falling down, or getting too far off track. Giving myself the ‘treat’ of a sugary dessert felt good for maybe a spoonful or two, but then I would spend the next two days craving sugar as though I had never quit. For me, that just isn’t worth it! Now my Dessert Policy reminds me to make my desserts at home, and to use only natural sugars like honey and molasses. I try to focus on either raw food desserts or paleo desserts, not because I follow either of these dietary practices, but because they are both excellent at using real foods to sweeten desserts. A great example of a raw food dessert is Raw Apple Bliss, which I created for the Doctor Yum Project last summer. It’s healthy enough to eat for breakfast—guilt-free! I like to serve it with Apple Pie ‘ice cream’ and watch the surprise when I reveal that the ingredients consist of frozen banana, frozen apple slices, and spices.
It took me about two years to completely convert to my Desserts at Home policy. There were many times when I went back to my old behavior, only to be left with the cravings. It was an important lesson though. I was reminded why the practice of desserts at home was a better choice. Changing your relationship with food is not an on/off switch. I like to think of it like a dimmer switch. The choices you make about your food do not need to be either On or Off. Ideals of perfection always sabotage success as there are so many ways to fail and only one way to get things right. Instead, practice the idea of the dimmer switch, allowing lessons along the way to clarify your vision and fuel your health goals.
And now for the recipe you have been waiting for! I wanted something that felt a bit like cake when I created this Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Muffin recipe. I also wanted them to be dairy-free for folks that cannot eat dairy. I stuck to ¼ cup of raw, local honey for the sweetener, and used the beautiful farmers’ eggs that I bought last week at the market. The result was a light, fluffy, protein-packed muffin that definitely felt like dessert to me. They freeze really well and can be warmed up in the toaster oven for a sweet treat. I would even go so far as to use them for a once a week fun breakfast with a veggie omelet and some fresh berries. The size makes them an idea treat for your packed lunch as well.
Now, armed with a new Dessert Policy and a few delicious recipes to try, I encourage you to have dessert!
Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Muffins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl, and all wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Combine ingredients and allow the bowl to sit for 2-3 minutes while you prepare the muffin pan with coconut oil (to prevent sticking) or muffin papers. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for 8-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Baking times vary by muffin size and individual oven.
I often use the early morning to organize my thoughts into paragraphs. And sometimes into recipes.