Saturday, April 14, 2012

Strawberries to the Rescue

"You need to gain at least five pounds," my doctor said.

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:
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:

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.


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:


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.


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!


  1. Dear Peggy,

    Thank you for so kindly recommending my book! I feel grateful and happy that it was helpful to you and appreciate your sharing it with others here.

    I'm also chuckling because I had a bowl of delicious strawberries for breakfast this morning! It's like having summer in a bowl.

    Lastly, I appreciate your encouragement to slow down and savor. You may enjoy my dear friend Abby's book on this very topic, Finding the Deep River Within:

    Warmly, Karly

  2. Hi Karly ~ Thanks for dropping by and I do hope others who have intense sugar cravings treat themselves to "Overcoming Sugar Addiction"--a true eye opener. Thanks for helping others live a healthier and more satisfying life ~ Peggy

  3. Mine is warm mashed potatoes, smothered in gravy or butter. Whenever I'm depressed or sick, this is what I want, so I limit it to those times only because I can't stop eating it.
    Strawberries are certainly a good choice - juicy, sweet, tangy and healthy.

  4. @ Peggy - On "Strawberries to the Rescue": Thank you for this very interesting and well-written article. It was enjoyable and informative writing. Makes me think of ways of satisfying my sweet-tooth,...pastries!

  5. Peggy - from another Peggi - I'm with you. I also have a totally overactive sweet tooth and am trying to cute back on sugar. (I do LOVE dark choc. - so thanks for the good news on that.) Thank you for your encouragement and delightfully written blog.
    Peggi Tustan

  6. Hi Peggy,
    I got the video this time!!! The kick back song is great. Just for your information, the German people are also having problems with sugar and you can see it on their hips and upper body. I really enjoyed your blog and had to laugh because I cut down my sugar content last year and went through some heavy withdrawal, but I stuck with it. Now I am fighting staying the course and not slipping back to where I was.
    Your blog was not only entertaining but also very helpful to me because it encourage me to keep on.

  7. I'm a chocoholic big-time and I'm just beginning the dietary transition from processed foods to whole foods and it's not easy! Love your blog and I subscribed!

  8. It's always amazing to me how much we struggle with food, especially food that's not good for us. It's good to know I'm not alone with my sugar cravings. I do have to re-emphasize that reading "Overcoming Sugar Addiction" by Karly Randolph Pitman really did help me to understand what was going on in my body when I ate sugar and then craved more. I strongly recommend it if you have this same issue.

    All the best and thanks for stopping by ~ Peggy

  9. I used to eat a lot of sweet stuff, but I have always enjoyed salty foods like the very bad potato chips, corn chips, nachos, etc. (but now French fries) even more. I haven't eaten excess sugar for years now and if I do eat something very sweet I really don't enjoy it.

    I do love chocolate, but buy the 85% dark with only 9 grams of sugar in the whole 100gm bar. I eat one strip (10/bar) per day. That satisfies me. I used to love milk chocolate and bought a bar last year. I could hardly eat it because it was so sweet. As for the other bad stuff - chips - I buy a bag once in awhile. If I buy nachos, I get whole grain.

    What I really love is fruit, and I make a fruit smoothie every day with several different fruits, plain yogurt, carrot juice, almond milk, parsley, alfalfa sprouts and sometimes cucumber. It's wonderfully satisfying both for the taste and for being filling.

    1. Diane ~ I bet you feel great after cutting out all of the junk food and isn't strange how you really don't like the taste of sweet anymore. I really do think the body knows. Once you start feeding it healthy foods, it wants more. ~ Peggy

  10. When I was young my Mom would scrap off the icing off any cake she ate. She said it was too sweet. As a kid, I would think she is giving up the best part!!!

    Now guess who scraps off the icing, that is if I eat any cake.