So I should start off by saying, I am addicted to sugar. I have a huge sweet tooth and feel that dessert is a must on a daily basis. Life is too short to deprive yourself of all the wonderful sweet, sugary goodness out there right? Well, one of my goals since becoming a vegetarian has been to reduce my processed sugar intake as well. This will probably be easier said than done.
When I begin thinking about what sugar does to my body and mind after ingesting it is enough to make me want to give it up. I wasn’t joking when I started by saying I was addicted to sugar. Sugar, for some people, is like crack. This sounds extreme, but processed sugars and carbohydrates, which turn into sugar, cause a rise in the insulin level in the blood. This also raises the endorphins level, a natural mood upper in the brain, and makes you feel good. The result is a chemical high, mentally. Now, I know what you’re thinking….”that sounds great”. However, this chemical high is also followed by an extreme low, or crash……..just like crack. The problem is that sugar’s effect on the body is short lived and wears off within an hour. The effect of the insulin has greater staying power. It is there long after the sugar wears off. This causes another mood swing. This time the mood is one of depression. Physically the body experiences lethargy. This usually causes the individual to use sugar to feel better, which evokes an endless cycle of sugar ups and downs.
When you think about it, don’t you feel sluggish and like you are in a fog after eating a lot of processed foods or sugary snacks? I’ve had intense chocolate sessions (what girl hasn’t) where the following day I feel hungover. This is the effect sugar has on the body. So, the good news is that you can still enjoy sweets in moderation, or find alternatives. I still like to have a sweet on most days so I chose to start finding alternatives for processed sugar. Naturally, fruit is a healthy and sweet alternative so I try to choose this most often. However, you can also use natural sweeteners in different recipes, such as honey, brown rice syrup, and cane juice. The difference between fructose, that is the natural sugar in fruit, and processed sugars is that fructose still has its chemical bonds intact. This causes the body to take a longer period of time to break down the different chemical bonds. As the body dissolves each type of sugar it is releases a moderate amount of sugar over time. This gives a continuous energy boost to the body and a slightly elevates mood (aka, no blood sugar spike and no hangover feeling after).
I started off with something simple and recently made vegan peanut butter rice crispy treats and they are so freakin’ delicious. I’m actually eating one as I write this! All naturaly peanut butter, carob chips, brown rice syrup, and brown rice crispy cereal make up the ingredient list of these super yummy treats. I, of course got the recipe from “The Kind Diet”, which has become one of my daily go to’s for tips and recipes. So experiment! Life without sugar is pretty great! More recipes to follow soon….