The Sweet Life

Sugar is the root of all evil.

Sugar: the root of all evil. Causes cancer, diabetes and depression, just to name a few. Photo: Turchuk.com

Sugar is my worst enemy. Its insidious presence in so many food products gives me cause to wonder if the Big Ten are actually mass marketing sugar with government permission to reduce the overall world population, rather than “feed the world”. Conspiracy theories aside, we all know it’s about the money. Presumably, they do it for the massive profits. You eat sugar. It gets you “high” and you want more sugar. And next time, you want even more more sugar. They take more and more of your hard-earned money (Did you know that Nestlé is the currently the world’s most profitable corporation?). When you crash, you feel like crap. It’s a never-ending circle that’s really hard to break. But “hard” is not impossible. And it can be done!

Unlike identifying my specific food allergies, the sugar-addiction thing actually took me a very long time to figure out. When I realized that sugar was the culprit, guilty of numerous crimes against my person, I decided to change my life style and eating habits. You know, I hit the “health wagon” which dictates that brown sugar is healthier…. and honey is even better. But that propaganda is not true either, so it took quite a while to rid my diet of processed sugars. Eventually, I turned it all upside down. Everything lurking in the back of the pantry that came in a packet, jar, can or bottle was tossed out. However, even though it contains fructose, I did not eliminate fresh organic fruit. Without regrets, I broke up with the supermarket and got engaged to the Farmer’s Market instead. Now I know exactly what I’m consuming, and there are no secret ingredients. Fruit is what saves me from sweet cravings at any time of the night or day. In fact, to be specific, low-fructose bananas totally save my butt. I have another blog called Going Bananas which – apart from sharing other fascinating foods made from bananas – also shows how you can replace sugars in cakes with ripe bananas, with some fabulous recipes. Believe me, learning about how to sweeten my life without sugar was a miracle!

I like to eat sweet things. I love chocolate. Very often, after dinner, my sweet-tooth kicks in and my body wants something sweet. Usually, I choose a piece of fresh fruit. Sometimes, I want something that feels more “naughty” than a holier-than-thou slice of pineapple – as delicious and fresh as it is. A brownie? Hell yeah! I make mine with bananas and olive oil instead of sugar and butter. As I type, I’m drinking a banana-chocolate shake made in the blender with two bananas and a spoonful of organic cacao beans. I get my sugar hit, my chocolate hit and my sweet-tooth is satisfied for the rest of the day. Woohoo! Occasionally, to satisfy my “need” for chocolate, I even snack on a few organic cacao beans while I’m working in the garden – this is an acquired taste, but well worth it. And guess what else…. I’m not going to be crashing into a depression because of sugar.

The best thing about eliminating processed sugars from my diet is feeling great. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a magical “cure” for my Bipolar Disorder. There is no cure. There is only finding a way to live beside what I now refer to as “a terrible neighbor”. Once a level of inner peace is achieved, it’s doable. Sometimes, bouts of depression still occur. Days when I can’t get out of bed and face the world still take place. But it’s not because of sugar. There’s none of that searching every corner of the house like a desperate drug-addict, looking for some snack I’ve hidden somewhere to satisfy my insatiable craving. Some of the edge has been taken off my disease. When it comes to what I put in my mouth, I have a lot more control now.  No more Michelle Pfeiffer (I am Sam) style marshmallow binges, puking it up later and crying on the bathroom floor. No more late night movie tantrums because there are no more toxic gummy bears. Freshly made Chili Popcorn has become my favorite movie snack. I’m preferring more salty home-made snacks nowadays, but low-fructose fruit has become the new path to sweetness in my life.

There are several great low fructose fruits that really help me out in the sweetness department: berries, kiwi, grapefruit, pineapples, and avocados to name a few. There are several sites online that go deeper into that, I won’t do that here. But there is also something else that has happened recently. Something so vital to my mental health that it deserves a mention. Whenever I choose fruit, I also congratulate myself on a wonderful choice. I look at directly at my face in the mirror and compliment myself on my smart decision. The smile that comes back at me is pretty hard to beat. This self-esteem boost is amazing. I am both physically and psychologically combating my Bipolar with powerful weapons it can’t easily break through. I’m beginning to believe that poor self-esteem has a lot more to do with depression than we understand. As for that bleak crazy depression skulking around somewhere in the darkest shadows of my messed up mind, well, these days it’s got a whole bunch of large complicated obstacles to get over before it can ruin my day! Happy sugar-free days!

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