When I was first getting sober, one of the slogans that I learned was “people,…
In order to avoid sugar binges, I have to be careful about the foods I keep around and the ingredients I use. By staying vigilant, I have been able to incorporate binge-free treats into my life.
My philosophy around cooking (and baking) is to use ingredients that will nourish and energize my body and not cause negative affects like compulsive binging or sugar highs and lows.
If you struggle with sugar binges, it is so important to know what triggers you (I will do a future post on identifying triggers).
Without a doubt, my body reacts to sugar the same way it did with alcohol. To sum it up:
If I put something processed and loaded with white sugar and flour in my mouth, I have a very difficult time controlling it.
This was actually tested yesterday. Our family baked Christmas cookies over the weekend. There was a variety of cookies made⏤some used traditional white sugar and flour⏤others used alternative sweeteners and flours. We got many different kinds to bring home and put in our Snowman cookie jar!
The following day was difficult for me. As I worked at my desk, I remembered what was in that cookie jar. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Finally, mid-day I broke down and decided that I would “just have one”.
Of course that didn’t happen and I ate a sickening amount, feeling completely out of control.
Today’s a new day but it was a great reminder of why I need to stay away from certain things.
This type of compulsive eating simply does not happen when I use minimally processed sweeteners and flours.
what happens with sugar
When I have easy access to refined sugars and flours I binge on it, hide it and then feel guilt and shame over it. I’ve always been this way and once I discovered alcohol, that became my drug of choice. Now that I don’t drink my sugar cravings are back, especially if I’m not careful.
Without getting too “science-y”, sugars and starchy foods raise our blood sugar levels. Many studies have shown that excessive sugar consumption increases the dopamine levels in a similar way to other drugs such as cocaine.
The more we eat, the more we crave and when our body goes into a blood sugar low, we experience anxiety, depression and lots of other fun symptoms.
Below is what I use to avoid blood sugar spikes and compulsive eating. I’ve included links if you’d like to purchase on Amazon. Most of these can also be found in the organic isles of your local grocery store.
In order to enjoy sweets, I simply use alternative sweeteners and look for those that have a low glycemic index (GI). This is a ranking of how the food affects blood glucose levels. If food has a low ranking (55 or less), it is more slowly digested and metabolized (basically you don’t get sugar spikes).
I have found that if I stick with low GI sweeteners, my cravings are minimal. I can enjoy sweeter foods without the compulsion to overeat.
Below is a list of sweeteners that I use most often:
Erythritol – this measures like sugar cup for cup, zero calorie and non-glycemic. The brands below have granular, brown and powder versions.
Xylitol – This is an alcohol found in fruits and plants. It has a very low GI and doesn’t spike blood sugars or insulin.
NOTE: Be careful if you have a pup or kitty, because it is highly toxic to our four-legged friends!
Natural sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, dates, bootstrap molasses)- I use these natural sweeteners occasionally however they have a higher GI than the sweeteners above so I keep them to a minimum.
I use the flours below for similar reasons as above. Highly processed white flour also spikes blood sugar levels and is highly addictive.
Almond flour – Gluten-free and high in protein, magnesium and vitamin E, contains fiber and low in carbohydrates.
Einkorn flour – An ancient wheat that is packed with more nutrients, vitamins and minerals than regular wheat. It also has 30% more protein and 15% less starch than commercial wheat. It’s also a great alternative for people with gluten sensitivity.
Because some of the flours bake differently than traditional white flour, you’ll typically see some additional ingredients in my recipes so I’ve listed them blow.
I’ve also added my favorite butter and chocolate!
Xanthan gum – This provides elasticity and stickiness that is missing in gluten-free baking. A little bit goes a long way (so a package will last very long).
Arrowroot powder (often substituted with tapioca powder) – Both gluten-free and act as a thickener. It’s a nice substitute for corn starch.
Grass-fed butter – I think grass-fed simply tastes better and is also higher in omega-3 fatty acids and other vitamins.
Dark Chocolate – My favorite brand of chocolate to bake with is Lily’s which is stevia-sweetened⏤meaning no refined or processed sugars.
If you have some favorite baking ingredients which keep your cravings in check, please comment, I’d love to hear about them!