Did You Say ‘No Chocolate’?!?
Say it isn’t so!
After being diagnosed Cancer, Polymayalsia Rheumatica, and Giant Cell Arteritis, I wanted to know what I could do to have some control over what was happening to my body. Nutrition always fascinated me and I felt that I could take some control back by making sure I was doing my part in taking care of my body.
All my research brought me to one undeniable fact - inflammation is a major factor in many diseases including mine. There are several philosophies on what causes systemic inflammation. Diet can be a big contributor. Sugar is the one food that is consistent in being proven to be a considerable factor in inflammation.
I decided it was time to make some major changes to my eating habits. For people like myself, (a sweets and chocolate lover), this is a huge life altering change. I have actually turned the corner on this in a few ways. Below are some ideas and how I incorporated them into my life.
M & Ms - My Reality Check
I used to eat one bag of peanut M & Ms daily. Not all at once, as I was tricking myself into believing that if I split it up during the day, I was being ‘good’. I was also being ‘good’ by having peanut M & Ms; after all, they contained protein! One day I decided to calculate how many calories the M & Ms were over the course of a year. I was shocked to realize that I was eating the equivalent of an extra 26 pounds of body weight in one year! I could be at my goal weight if I eliminated the M & Ms alone. What a wake up call!
Is There An Alternative To Chocolate?
For movie night or just evening time, I make a beautiful fruit plate. I found that separating the fruit and not making it a salad is more appealing. It’s also easier to just ‘pick’ at. This helps with the evening cravings because it’s readily available and helps stops your mind from wandering into ‘I’m starving, What can I eat?’ One key that I found is that if the presentation is appealing, you WANT to eat it.
Did you know that in some countries, they serve fresh fruit immediately after dinner. I was surprised to realize that this actually works to help eliminate the craving for sugar.
I keep dark chocolate in the freezer. Dark chocolate has much less sugar. I found that after lunch or dinner are the times I crave chocolate the most. One or two small squares of chocolate will actually satisfy me. Who knew!
DON’T buy cookies (or goodies) at the store! If you don’t have it easily available, you won’t be eating it. My trick is to make a batch of cookie dough, roll it into small tubes (enough for about 4 cookies), then put them in the freezer. When I need a real treat, I take out a tube, cut out four cookies, and cook them in the toaster oven. I then share them with my husband. Since there are only four cookies in the tube, there is no binge eating.
We All Scream For Ice Cream!
Is ice cream your treat of choice? I only have one immediate fix that I know of, but it’s a yummy one. This is for banana chocolate chip ice cream. First, break up some bananas in chunks. Freeze them on a tray that keeps the pieces separated. After frozen, you can keep them together in a ziplock bag. Using a food processor, process the banana, adding a very small amount of milk, until smooth. Stir in a small amount of mini chocolate chips. Use enough to get the chocolate fix, but not too much to ruin the benefits of low sugar. The banana gives a nice smooth, creamy texture and it’s so yummy!
Size Does Matter
Another weakness of mine is brownies. I found an awesome trick for me. First of all, I use the ‘No Pudge’ brownie mix because one only needs to add nonfat yogurt. I’m very picky about my brownies and this works beautifully with only the yogurt added. When cooking them, instead of making a pan of brownies that I can’t seem to cut into appropriate small sizes, I make brownie cookies. I might have invented these!! Scoop the dough just like regular cookie dough onto a cookie sheet, then bake 8 - 10 minutes. I can still have my brownie, but it’s portion controlled and smaller than a regular piece of brownie. Since the dough can’t be frozen, I share them. The ones I keep are separated into baggies (for portion control) and put in the freezer.
The Bottom Line
Overall, what I found was that if I didn’t completely deny myself, I did much better. Everyone has their own relationship with food. These tips are how I have dealt with my sugar cravings. I want to be as healthy as possible so that I can have time to enjoy my family and friends. When I continue to remind myself of my goals, my priorities help guide me. That being said, we’re all human and mistakes are inevitable. Remember the saying...
“It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce back up that counts.”