If you have switched over to Paleo, you probably realise just how present sugar is in the modern diet. Going to an all-natural way of eating is a smart move to avoid all this extra sugar and empty calories. Unfortunately, many of us suffer from a sweet tooth after years of gorging on this food. Paleo helps re-calibrate the desire for sweet food, but what do you do if you want to satisfy that craving without slipping back into your old ways?
The obvious answer might be ‘cheat’. This is a possibility, but when you think just how addictive sugar is and how hard it was to wean off it in the first place are you sure you really want to take the risk?
So no cheating then? Yes, you can! The thing is, you need to re-test what you mean by cheat. I have had people swear blind they were rigorous with their diets and can’t understand why that body fat doesn’t seem to go anywhere. and then I see that ‘little cheat meal’ that they had at the weekend. It sounds like what a pack of ravenous kids might eat on Halloween. Sweets, donuts, fizzy drinks, the list goes on. All the hard work done in the week has just been destroyed in a couple of hours.
So what does cheat mean to me? Well, let’s take chocolate. Stuffing your face with snickers is not the answer. What about considering anything over 70% cocoa instead? Now you can scratch that itch for sweetness but you aren’t doing a lot of damage. In fact, dark chocolate is actually a great food for you and your health.
Think of fruit in the same way. Eating a (small) bowl of cherries or raspberries should be what you look at when you want sugar.
The other thing about this natural approach to ‘cheating’ is that it is self-limiting. Here’s an example. I’m sure we have all experienced something like this. You reach for the Ben and Jerry’s, deciding to treat yourself to a little. You look down a while later and find that the spoon is scraping the bottom of the empty container! Or maybe you decide that an Oreo or two can’t do much harm and somehow the whole packet disappears!
That’s the problem with these sorts of foods. It is virtually impossible to limit yourself because they have no satiety value -you don’t feel full. The sugar just stimulates your eating reflex and the damage is done. With dark chocolate, this isn’t the case at all.
As you gradually get used to less sugar in your diet, you find that the sweet hit of fresh fruit or dark chocolate is enough. Until you hit that reset point, every time you relapse to cookies and ice cream you are going back to square one of getting your sweet tooth cravings under control.
Sugar isn’t banned on Paleo by any means. something like natural honey is plenty sweet enough for most. The point is to work towards becoming free of this addiction so that these cravings don’t dominate your life and eating habits and don’t lead to completely falling off the healthy eating wagon.
The real key to all this is mental. We are so used to giving in to this call for sugar we think it is a need when it is just a desire. The first time you say refuse to give in to temptation can be kind of unpleasant. We aren’t used to saying no to ourselves! However, the more you do it, the more you realise that you really do have control over your sweet tooth and the less often you will have to deal with this call back to the bad old days altogether.