If you have been following me for a while, you know I have strong opinions about sugar. I have strong opinions because I both love it (I’m human after all) and also, working with many sugar-addicts (I was one too), understand its destruction up close and personal.
Even though I have seen sugar’s damage, I also understand that eliminating it completely can wreak havoc as well, causing binge and deprivation cycles, disempowerment and feelings of serious self-flagellation. Oftentimes, when it is eliminated completely, its hold on us becomes even tighter and the relationship becomes even more complicated.
Sugar provides us with pleasure and we all NEED pleasure! Yes, I said need. We NEED it. Our relationship with the things that provide us with pleasure (booze, chips, cookies) only become a problem when we are developing an unhealthy relationship with pleasure; when substance-pleasure becomes our method of choice to distract ourselves from the fact that we feel lack elsewhere in our lives. My clients are sometimes surprised to find that I am a huge proponent of treats, of gelato, champagne, and crusty french bread but only when eating them is accompanied by a feeling of empowerment, and when you feel as good after the treat as while you were eating it.
In order to give ourselves the gift of treats and the undisturbed pleasure that can come from them, we need to take an extra close look at the hidden sugars in our everyday diet that aren’t even necessarily providing us with pleasure, but rather serving as a filler that keeps us sugar-addicted and heavier than we may like to be.
So, how do we keep the sugar intake low and still experience the feelings that come along with sugar?
Good question! I wanted to share some special snacks with you today that I absolutely LOVE. These snacks combine real pleasure (I’m not kidding here) AND nutrition. So, you can eat these, get the hit of pleasure, and avoid the hormonal imbalance that will store some padding on your waistline. Pleasurable and healthy? It’s true. They taste like full on dessert.
Here we go:
1) Nut & Spice KIND Bars (under 5 grams of sugar)
I used to feel a little torn about KIND bars. I loved that they only had around 4 or 5 ingredients and they were all-natural and gluten-free, but they often contained glucose as the third ingredient and in addition to the dried fruit, would come in between 10-17 grams of sugar per bar (as much as Dunkin’ Donuts glazed donut). I knew the KIND company could do better and they did. KIND came out with the Nut & Spice variety, which has between 4-5 grams of sugar per serving. Plus, they are incredible tasting! Honestly! My favorite dessert inspired KIND Bars are the Maple and Glazed Pecan, the Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt and the Cinnamon Dark Chocolate. Give me a small cappuccino and a KIND bar, and I get my pleasure fix for days.
2) Barney Almond Butter with fruit.
I stumbled across Barney Almond Butter at my neighborhood grocery store, and while it was expensive ($10–you gotta love Brooklyn prices), when I took a bite of the Vanilla Bean & Espresso variety (only 1 gram of sugar), my eyes rolled back into my head. I think I called my fiancee at work just to tell him about it. I made him try it multiple times. Now, I have discovered the Cocoa & Coconut variety (3 grams of sugar). The flavors are complex and super reminiscent of donuts. Pair this with an apple of half a banana and you will be in heaven.
3) ThinkThin Crunch Bars
My clients rave about these snack bars. Typically, I try to help my clients to implement whole, fresh food whenever possible, but sometimes, especially living in NYC where the pace is fast, you need a back up plan. So, I always suggest they have a non-perishable protein-heavy emergency snack in their desk, bag or purse that they restock whenever they eat it. ThinkThin Crunch Bars contain a good amount of protein and healthy fat, but contain very little sugar because it is replaced with sugar alcohols, which are not absorbed by the system. They are similar to artificial sweeteners but without the neurotoxins. Beware, sugar alcohols (like xylitol and maltitol) can sometimes be rough on the digestive system (depending on who you are), so test it out and see if these are right for you before eating 3 in one sitting ( I wouldn’t recommend that anyway).
4) Spiced Cocoa Banana Frosty
My fiancee made this for me one day and we both flipped over it and enjoy it a couple times a month as an indulgent weekend snack. There is no added sugar, only the sugar from the banana and a tiny amount from the natural peanut butter. Plus, the peanut butter serves as a protein, which slows down the absorption of the sugar from the banana. Check out the recipe here.
5) Paleo Pumpkin Bread
I found this recipe on Elana’s Pantry. I love her baked goods blog because she follows a Paleo lifestyle (which has helped to improve her MS dramatically). She steers clear of all grain-based flours, dairy, grains, gluten and beans. She uses almond and coconut flour and natural sweeteners instead of high-glycemic flours (corn, rice, and wheat) and refined sugars, which both spike blood sugar. Almond and coconut flours contain protein, fat and fiber but very little excess carbohydrate, which means they will not incur cycles of carb and sugar cravings. Do they taste exactly the same as regular baked goods? Not exactly. But they are a pretty damn good substitution. Sometimes they even taste better. Click here for the recipe.
Snack away pleasurably!
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Rock On and Be Well,