I nodded once and replied, "It shouldn't be a problem. I'll just eat hot, crispy French fries and drink frothy chocolate shakes instead of munching on celery sticks and sipping skim milk."
"Good idea. And plop some whipped cream onto your shake. The extra fat and sugar are good for you."
As I gazed at the this cupcake display in the restaurant where I ate Easter dinner, I wondered if that conversation really happened or was it a really good dream. Unfortunately, neither. I was wishful thinking as I confronted temptation. You see, I've made a promise to myself to significantly decrease sugar from my diet.
I have a very active sweet tooth and and like a spoiled child, I indulge it way too often. As I took a step back from this decadent offering, my nagging molar begged me, "Just one cupcake, please."
Really? I thought. I couldn't be fooled. One would turn into two, then my sugar craving tooth would notice this sitting so luscious on the dessert table:
You're probably thinking, Go for it. It's Easter. Believe me, I don't need too much prodding. Did I mention however, that I had jelly beans and chocolate peanut butter eggs for lunch. It wasn't intentional. They were hanging around my house and eventually found their way into my mouth. That sweet tooth sure is sneaky. And on Thursday, I accepted a piece of a colleague's birthday cake just to be polite and on Friday I said, "Yes," to a slice of mixed berry pie at a friend's house just because everyone else did.
Think about it. How often are we tempted by sugar? The grocery store, the mall, bakeries all over the place, the office, home, friend's house, restaurants, etc. It's everywhere. Why? Because Americans (not sure about other countries) eat an average of 160 pounds of sugar per person each year.
Why do we eat so much sugar? It's not because it's good for us. I did a Google search and, unlike coffee and red wine, sugar doesn't have a single redeeming quality. It's high in empty calories and makes us fat; it's addictive; it suppresses our immune system; it promotes inflammation; it raises insulin levels; it suppresses the release of human growth hormones, and as a result, accelerates the aging process (read more at: http://nutritiondiva.quickanddirtytips.com/how-sugar-affects-your-body.aspx).
No question about it. Sugar is body pollution. Then why do we eat so much? My best guess is, it tastes good and gives us momentary pleasure in a not so easy world. Plus, as already stated, it's addictive. Check out this report from ABC News if you have questions about that: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Diabetes/addicted-sugar/story?id=10869006#.T4VpgKs1-8B
So, did I think about all of this at the moment I came face to face with a tray full of cupcakes. A little, but not enough. Who cares? What's one day? I stepped closer to the cupcakes.
Then out of the corner of my eye I saw this:
Red, ripe strawberries full of sweet juice and loaded with nutrients. By the way, the sugar in fruit is called fructose, which is all natural, very different from refined sugar. There can't be too much fructose either because one cup of these beauties contains a mere 49 calories. As I thought about my choices, cupcakes or strawberries, I imagined tasting both. Strawberries won.
I plucked five from the bowl and drizzled a bit of dark chocolate, from a nearby fountain, on top. Was that cheating? Maybe a little, but it was Easter and dark chocolate does have health benefits when eaten in moderation. I took my dessert back to the table, enjoyed every bite of the fresh fruit and didn't have a craving for more. In fact, my sweet tooth even seemed happy.
What's your food weakness? Please share any tricks you use to deal with it.
KICK BACK SONG OF THE WEEK:
Strawberry Swing sung by Frank Ocean in this video, (original song by Coldplay). Lots of kick back moments in this video from another era--really worth viewing:
KICK BACK BOOK OF THE WEEK:
If you sometimes feel that sugar is controlling you and don't understand why, try reading Overcoming Sugar Addiction by Karly Randolph Pitman. This book is full of helpful advice on how to beat sugar before it beats you.
A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA:
Good News: A Dove Dark Chocolate bar, like other dark chocolate bars with high-cocoa content, is loaded with something called epicatechin. Epicatechin is a particularly active member of a group of compounds called plant flavoniods. Flavoniods keep cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels, reduce the risk of blood clots, and slow down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries.
A dove dark chocolate bar contains 220 calories and has 16 sugar grams (nutritional guidelines recommend no more than 40 grams per day for non-diabetic adults). Here's a great, easy recipe that is sure to satisfy even the most demanding sweet tooth. Take 1/2 the dark chocolate bar and melt it in the microwave (or in a pot on the stove). Dip strawberries, or other fruit, into it and eat--so good!